Russia tests Orion UCAV in air-to-air role

by Samuel Cranny-Evans

Russia has tested its Orion UCAV in an air-to-air engagement against another UAV. This screenshot from video footage of the test shows the launch of what appears to be a Kornet variant during the test. (Russian MoD)

Russia has tested an Orion unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) in an air-to-air engagement against a rotary wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) during tests in Crimea, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported on 19 December.

The Orion was shown taking off with a missile tube under each wing and tracking the rotary wing target before engaging it with a missile that appears to be a variant of the 9M113 Kornet anti-tank guided missile family. The engagement reportedly took place at a range of 4 km.

The UCAV also conducted air-to-ground engagements using the missile, the MoD said.

The missile used may be a development of the Kornet-D that was referred to as X-BPLA by an industry source cited in an 18 December Sputnik article. It was designed for use on the Ka-52 attack helicopter as well as the Forpost and Orion UAVs, the source said.

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SOFINS 2023: Airbus unveils Capa-X modular UAS

by Amael Kotlarski

An Airbus Capa-X UAS. (Janes/Amael Kotlarski)

Airbus unveiled its new Capa-X unmanned aircraft system (UAS) at the SOFINS 2023 exhibition, held near Bordeaux, France.

The aircraft has been designed with a modular architecture that is intended to enable it to undertake a wide range of missions, and according to Airbus, it will be able to accommodate up to three different payloads in a 10 kg-capacity internal bay. Capa-X will be reconfigurable for different operating profiles; in addition to horizontal take-off and landing via a runway, the aircraft will undertake vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) when equipped with a set of four electrically powered rotors. These form part of a VTOL twin-boom empennage that is installed in place of the standard one. Furthermore, the aircraft will have two wing options. The longer one is optimised for range and altitude, the shorter onefor low-speed manoeuvrability and to support hover flight.

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Israel launches new surveillance satellite

by Olivia Savage

The Israeli Ministry of Defense has launched its latest surveillance satellite, Ofek-13, which will be operated by the IDF's 9900 Intelligence Unit, part of the Directorate of Military Intelligence. (Israel Ministry of Defense Spokesperson's Office)

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) of Israel launched its latest surveillance satellite onboard the Shavit rocket on 29 March, the MoD announced.

Known as Ofek-13, the satellite utilises the latest synthetic aperture radar (SAR) technology to collect high-resolution spatial intelligence for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and its 9900 Intelligence Unit.

According to the announcement, the satellite was launched in central Israel and has begun to transmit data.

Ofek-13 was developed in collaboration with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the MoD Space and Satellite Administration, the Israeli Air Force, IDF, and the 9900 Intelligence Unit.

IAI is the prime contractor for the programme, having developed the satellite, the ground station monitoring system, and the launcher, while its Systems Missiles and Space Group operates the project alongside the company's MLM division and subsidiary ELTA. In addition, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Tomer, a government-owned company, supplied the launch engines.

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Airbus trials autonomous aerial refuelling of unmanned aircraft

by Gareth Jennings

Airbus demonstrated its Auto'Mate autonomous aerial refuelling of drones using an A310 MRTT and DT-25 target drones during two trials held earlier in March 2023. (Airbus)

Airbus Defence and Space has trialled the autonomous air-to-air refuelling (AAR) of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), flying two test sorties earlier in March.

Senior programme representatives told Janes and other defence media on 28 March that the two events saw the first successful AAR trials of the Auto'Mate technologies developed by Airbus UpNext, using a modified A310 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft and DT-25 target drone UAVs. These tests were the first step towards Airbus' planned Autonomous Assets Air-to-Air Refuelling (A4R) and Autonomous Formation Flight (AF2) capability for tankers.

“Early in the morning of 21 March, the A310 that was modified with all the sensors needed to perform this first demonstration took off from Getafe Airbase [near Madrid], and flew to the south of Spain where the drones were launched [from the Arenosillo Test Centre (CEDEA) at Huelva]. We performed the rendezvous manoeuvres [over the waters of the Gulf of Cadiz],” said Manuel Barriopedro, the head of Auto'Mate Demonstrator at Airbus UpNext.

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