UK weighing up options for Prometheus 2 satellite successor
26 May 2023
by Olivia Savage
The Prometheus 2 CubeSats were scheduled to be launched from Cornwall onboard Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne rocket before an anomaly in the launcher resulted in the two satellites being destroyed. (Crown Copyright)
The UK is investigating several options to replace the Prometheus 2 satellites destroyed during the failed Virgin Orbit launch in January 2023.
on the Prometheus 2 successor, Head of Space Capability at UK Space Command Commodore Dave Moody said one possible option would be to repeat the project as before. The other option would involve developing satellites with more advanced instruments.
Developing a successor would depend on whether the project receives additional funding as well as all the necessary approvals and support from international partners. If this is achieved, he expects the new satellites will be more advanced versions of their predecessors, considering technology has progressed.
Canadian MQ-9 Reaper operational capability delayed to 2028
28 November 2023
by Zach Rosenberg
One of the two MQ-9A Block 5-15 air vehicles currently operating with Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1 (VMU-1). The accompanying artist's rendering shows an MQ-9A Block 5-25 in VMU-1 colours. The SkyTower ANE pod is carried beneath the MQ-9A's left wing on stores station 2. (NAVAIR)
Canada's planned purchase of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9 Reaper under the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) programme has been delayed from 2025 to 2028, the country's Department of National Defence (DND) told Janes on 27 November.
GA-ASI was the sole respondent to a solicitation issued in February 2022. Although the DND intends to sign a contract worth up to CAD5 billion (USD3.7 billion) with GA-ASI in fiscal year (FY) 2023 (which ends in calendar year March 2024), MQ-9's initial operational capability (IOC) qualification is delayed from FY 2025–26 to FY 2028 citing a need for additional development work.
US DoD Inspector General recommends delay for US Navy MQ-25A purchase
28 November 2023
by Zach Rosenberg
Boeing MQ-25A Stingray test aircraft T1 refuels an F/A-18 Super Hornet in June 2021. The first engineering, manufacturing, and development aircraft is scheduled to be delivered to the US Navy in FY 2025. (US Navy)
A report by the US Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General (IG) recommended a delay to the US Navy's (USN's) Boeing MQ-25A Stingray purchase.
The report, released on 20 November, found that the USN's schedule includes making a Milestone C decision or certifying that the programme can move from engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) into low-rate initial production (LRIP), before completing developmental testing, and declaring initial operational capability (IOC) before completing operational testing.
Though the USN wants to deploy the MQ-25A as soon as practical, “making critical production decisions without conducting sufficient testing introduces additional risk that the MQ‑25 program will not meet its operational capability requirements, which could require costly and time‑consuming engineering changes and may delay the MQ‑25A's deployment”, wrote the IG. “Therefore, Navy officials should either delay the [Milestone C] and IOC decisions until the program office can conduct sufficient tests and evaluations” or update its risk calculus accordingly.
Airbus completes Auto'Mate autonomous aerial refuelling tests
24 November 2023
by Gareth Jennings
Airbus demonstrated its Auto'Mate A4R autonomous aerial refuelling of drones using an A310 MRTT and DT-25 target drone UAVs during two trials in March. The test campaign has now been completed. (Airbus)
Airbus Defence and Space has completed trials of its autonomous air-to-air refuelling (AAR) of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the company announced on 22 November.
Trials that were launched in March involved a modified A310 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft and DT-25 target drone UAVs. Designated Auto'Mate, the autonomous AAR is the first step towards Autonomous Assets Air-to-Air Refuelling (A4R) and Autonomous Formation Flight (AF2) capabilities for tankers using technologies developed by Airbus UpNext.
“Auto'Mate successfully completes the second and final flight-test campaign. Airbus, for the first time ever, tested the technologies for autonomous air-to-air refuelling based on controlling and guiding multiple drones from Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft,” the company said.
Using OSINT to provide intelligence on conflict zones in Israel and Gaza
Janes analysts discuss the ongoing situation in Israel/Gaza and discuss how OSINT can help us look at events in conflict zones, including analysis of what happened at the Al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza.