Ukraine conflict: Turkey airlifts additional TB2 UCAVs to Ukraine
02 March 2022
by Gareth Jennings
The Turkish-supplied TB2 UCAV is the only armed UAV in the Ukrainian inventory and as such is highly important to the country's continued war effort against Russia. (Baykar)
Turkey has airlifted additional Baykar Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) to Ukraine.
The Ukrainian defence minister Oleksiy Reznikov said on 2 March that new combat ready TB2s had arrived in the country as part of a wider package of international military assistance.
“The amount of help we are receiving is increasing […]. Ukraine has already [received] and [put] on combat standby new [Bayraktar UCAVs],” Reznikov announced. The minister's statement followed rumours of a delivery of new TB2s from Turkey after a Turkish Air Force Airbus A400M transport aircraft was tracked flying from Ankara to Poland on 1 March.
Prior to the Russian invasion, Ukraine was known to have received six TB2s from Turkey. The minister did not say how many additional TB2s had been delivered.
The TB2 is the only UCAV in Ukrainian service and was first used by the country in October 2021 when a separatist D-30 122 mm howitzer in the breakway Donbass region was targeted and destroyed. Footage released by the Ukrainian government since the launch of offensive Russian operations on 24 February has shown the TB2s to have been heavily engaged in the fighting, destroying several ground vehicles including Buk surface-to-air missile systems.
The TB2 is a medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that was developed to provide the Turkish Army with a tactical intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance capability. According to
Janes All the World's Aircraft: Unmanned
, it is 6.5 m long and has a 12 m wingspan. With a maximum take-off weight of 630 kg, the air vehicle can carry up to 55 kg in mission system and/or weapons payload. Performance specifications give the Bayraktar TB2 a cruising speed of 70 kt, a range of 150 km, an endurance of 24 hours, and a service ceiling of nearly 30,000 ft.
A model of the Airbus SIRTAP UAS, displayed in Paris at Eurosatory 2022. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)
Spain has acquired the Airbus SIRTAP unmanned aircraft system (UAS), the manufacturer announced on 29 November.
The Spanish Ministry of Defence (MoD) has contracted nine systems comprising a total of 27 air vehicles and nine ground control stations. Two simulators have also been acquired.
“Airbus has signed a contract with the Spanish Ministry of Defence for the development and acquisition of SIRTAP, a high-performance tactical UAS that will reinforce the tactical capabilities of the Spanish Army and the Air and Space Force,” Airbus said. The MoD said that the contract value was “close to” EUR495 million (USD543 million).
Having originally launched SIRTAP with Colombia, this contract with Spain now formally kick-starts Airbus' development of the UAS that is being billed as sitting midway between the light tactical and medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) classes.
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.
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