US Navy declares initial operational capability for MQ-4C Triton
15 September 2023
by Zach Rosenberg
An MQ-4C Triton, operated by US Navy squadron VUP-19, after landing at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, in August 2023. (US Navy)
The US Navy (USN) declared initial operational capability (IOC) for the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton, the service announced on 9 September.
Five MQ-4Cs have been delivered to the USN to date, Rho Cauley Bruner, Northrop Grumman's Triton programme director, told Janes on 15 September. The first ‘orbit' – a set of four aircraft, together able to keep a continuous watch over a designated part of the ocean – is complete, Bruner said, with a second orbit slated for delivery later in 2023.
The USN plans to maintain three orbits in total, each based in a different theatre of operations. The first orbit is operated by USN squadron VUP-19, which though based in Jacksonville, Florida, has deployed to Guam in the Pacific Ocean. The completed orbit is VUP-19's second Guam deployment – the first came following the USN's declaration of early operational capability in May 2020.
Ukraine conflict: Draganfly tasked with UAV training, systems take on mine clearance duties
28 September 2023
by Akshara Parakala
Draganfly's Commander 3 XL is operational in Ukraine. (Janes/Akshara Parakala)
Draganfly has been awarded a multi-year contract by Ukraine's Ministry of Internal Affairs to develop training programmes for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operations.
Speaking to Janes, Draganfly's chief operating officer, Paul Mullen, said the five-week training programme will help UAV operators develop their intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) mission skills, as well as those for search-and-rescue (SAR) tasks.
The company has developed the training programme with operators of Draganfly and other UAVs in Ukraine.
According to a company announcement, the contract was awarded by Ukraine's Ministry of Internal Affairs on behalf of non-governmental organisation (NGO) Heal-Corp and the Ukrainian National Academy of Internal Affairs. Mullen said the training will be provided on Draganfly UAVs, including the Draganflyer Commander2 and Commander 3 XL.
Since March 2022 Draganfly UAVs have been used to provide situational awareness and support humanitarian aid efforts, and since early 2023 they have been employed in mine detection and clearance tasks.
Mullen said the UAVs have been equipped with ground-penetrating radar (GPR), magnetometers, and multispectral and hyperspectral sensors to detect mines.
The Bundestag budget committee on 20 September approved a contract amendment for the procurement of 12 LUNA NG UASs for the Bundeswehr. (Rheinmetall)
The budget committee of the Bundestag, Germany's parliament, on 20 September approved a contract amendment for the procurement of the Luftgestützte Unbemannte Nahaufklärungs-Ausstattung Next Generation (LUNA NG) medium-range unmanned aircraft system (UAS), which is designated by the Bundeswehr as Hocheffizientes Unbemanntes System zur abbildenden Aufklärung mittlerer Reichweite (HUSAR). The Bundeswehr is procuring 12 LUNA NG UASs and a training system to replace current LUNA and Kleinfluggerät für Zielortung (KZO) UASs.
A LUNA NG system consists of five unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), two ground control stations in protected containers, maintenance and repair equipment, two launchers, and two recovery systems.
The total contract value is EUR290.9 million (USD307.8 million), of which EUR238.6 remains to be funded by Germany's defence budget. The German Federal Ministry of Defence expects LUNA NG deliveries starting in 2025.
Germany's Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) awarded EMT a EUR63 million framework contract for three LUNA NG systems and a training system, with an option for nine more UASs.
An Autel Evo Max UAV and a DJI Matrice quadcopter flying above a General Dynamics Land Systems LAV700 vehicle at C-UAS TIE23. (Janes/Olivia Savage)
NATO will publish its first counter-unmanned aircraft systems (C-UASs) doctrine in 2023, which will lay the foundations for how militaries should standardise and operationalise countering UASs, Janes has learnt.
Along with informing members how best to plan and execute C-UAS missions, the high-priority document will address and outline the strategic environment, Senior Advisor for NATO's Science for Peace and Security programme Claudio Palestini told Janes at NATO's ‘C-UAS Technical Interoperability Exercise 2023' (TIE23) in Vredepeel, Netherlands, held from 12 to 22 September.
A draft of the document will be sent to member countries in October before being ratified by the end of the year, although this timeline could fluctuate pending countries' comments, Palestini said.
Several strategic recommendations will be outlined in the doctrine, according to Palestini. These include advising member states that C-UAS must be integrated into the wider air-defence domain, rather than being ‘considered in isolation'; that it should be a multidomain solution; and that continuous innovation and improvement must be adopted because of the rapidly evolving threat.
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