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.

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

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