Ukraine conflict: Turkey airlifts additional TB2 UCAVs to Ukraine

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.

Boeing avoids labour strike at three US defence plants

by Marc Selinger

Boeing is developing the MQ-25 Stingray unmanned tanker for the US Navy. The company has averted a labour strike at three US factories that build military aircraft, including the MQ-25. (Boeing)

Unionised workers at three Boeing military aircraft factories in and near St Louis, Missouri, have approved a new three-year contract, averting a looming labour strike, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) announced on 3 August.

Boeing welcomed the news. “We're pleased with the outcome of the vote and we look forward to our future here in the St Louis area,” the company said in a statement.

The IAM said that Boeing's latest contract offer contained better retirement benefits compared with the one its members rejected on 24 July. About 2,500 union members were scheduled to go on strike on 1 August, but postponed the walkout after receiving the new offer.

“The newly ratified modified offer features critical improvements to the company's previous offer for retirement plans, including a USD8,000 lump sum payment that can be deferred to an employee's 401(k), and continuing the 4% company contribution and 75% match on the first 8% of an employee's 401(k) contribution,” the union said.


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Rocket Lab launches surveillance satellite for Australian DoD, US NRO

by Oishee Majumdar

Rocket Lab launched NROL-199, co-developed by the US NRO and the Australian DoD, with the help of its Electron rocket from a spaceport in New Zealand's Māhia Peninsula on 4 August. (Rocket Lab )

The second of the two surveillance satellites co-developed by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) of the United States and the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) was launched by the US-based Rocket Lab from its spaceport in New Zealand's Māhia Peninsula on 4 August.

The US NRO and Rocket Lab confirmed the launch of this second satellite, named ‘Antipodean Adventure' or NROL-199, on Twitter.

The first satellite named ‘Wise One Looks Ahead' or NROL-162 along with NROL-199 “carry national security payloads” designed and built by the US NRO in partnership with the Australian DoD, a spokesperson for the NRO told Janes on 3 August.

The two agencies will collaborate in operating these satellites, the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said that the NROL-162 and NROL-199 “missions are the latest examples of NRO's commitment to enhancing relationships” with the US' “allies and partners and demonstrates NRO's capability to consecutively launch multiple rockets from overseas locations”.


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USSOCOM awards Armed Overwatch contract to L3Harris Technologies

by Andrew White

L3Harris Technologies' AT-802U Sky Warden. (L3Harris)

US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has selected L3Harris Technologies as the lead contractor for its long-awaited Armed Overwatch programme.

The company was awarded a contract worth a maximum of USD3 billion on 31 July, although it was officially announced by the Tampa-based command on 1 August.

The Armed Overwatch programme intends to provide US Special Operations Forces (SOF) with up to 75 “deployable and sustainable manned aircraft systems [capable of] fulfilling close air support [CAS]; precision strike; and SOF intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) in austere and permissive environments”, according to USSOCOM's request for information for the programme.

Additional requirements called for a “multirole, modular” aircraft capable of supporting counter-terrorism/counter-violent extremist organisation operations in addition to “collapsing the stack by merging the capabilities of larger ISR and armed aircraft capabilities into one cost-effective, resilient package”.

Use of Armed Overwatch aircraft is expected to increase availability of other air assets to support operations against more advanced adversaries.


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Turkey has airlifted additional Baykar Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) to Ukra...

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