Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Monthly Archives: August 2011


    Following a U.S. Navy award in March, to build a tactical laser system for naval applications, BAE Systems and Boeing have teamed to develop a system demonstrator utilizing Mk 38 Mod 2 remotely controlled weapon station, originally developed and produced by Rafael Advanced Defense Sytems of Israel. In a recent test conducted at the Eglin AFB, Florida the TLS demonstrated a capability to identify and classify hostile targets and provide rapid hand-off to the laser weapon for target interdiction. The laser weapon consists of a Boeing 10kW fiber-laser developed by International Photonic Group (IPG), coupled with the Air Force Research lab (AFRL) Mobile Active Targeting Resource for Integrated Experiments (MATRIX) system, a mobile beam control and fire control solution also developed by Boeing.

    Boeing and BAE Systems will develop a tactical laser weapon demonstrator employing a dual-weapon Mk38 Mod2 system mounting the standard M242 Bushmaster gun and a powerful laser weapon, capable of generating various levels of energy, to counter small surface targets or air threats. (Photo: BAE Systems)

    In a recent demonstration sponsored by the Commander of the U.S. Second Fleet the TLS fired against air and surface maritime targets, demonstrating a range of target effects. Additionally, swarm tests were conducted to simulate an attack by a large number of fast, maneuvering small boats, intermingled with neutral boat traffic. These tests demonstrated a consistent ability to detect, track, classify and engage threat vessels at tactically relevant ranges.

    For the Mk 38 Mod 2 Tactical Laser System (TLS) demonstration BAE Systems integrated the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) MATRIX laser test bed and Boeing’s 10kW International Photonic Group (IPG) fiber laser. The Mk38 Mod 2 is already operational on many U.S. Navy vessels and the Tactical Laser System payload will be designed as a ‘drop in’ module to mount in parallel to the existing weapon, offering both directed energy and kinetic weapon effect defending ships from close-in attacks by rubber boats, speed boats or unmanned threats.

    “The success of this testing exceeded all expectations and demonstrates that our Mk 38 TLS has the potential to deliver an important ship self defense capability,” said Mark Signorelli, vice president and general manager of Weapon Systems for BAE Systems. “The optics associated with control of the laser allow significantly greater capability in target identification, the ability to conduct precision tracking and engagement, and provide the option of non-lethal engagements, which are critical features to enhance ship defenses.”

    The addition of the laser weapon module brings high-precision accuracy against surface and air targets such as small boats and unmanned aerial vehicles. The system also provides the ability to deliver different levels of laser energy, depending on the target and mission objectives. While the recent test at Eglin took place on land, a previous evaluation of the system at sea also proved effective, according to Spencer Ackerman of Wired Danger Room. This test was carried out on a boat at Florida’s Choctawatchee Bay, simulating engagement of multiple small pirate fast boats attacking civilian or naval vessels in swarmed.

    Boeing and BAE Systems have been working together for the past two years to develop this capability. In 2010, Boeing DES conducted two experiments in the field to demonstrate the system’s ability to track surface targets and maintain a laser aimpoint with high precision.

    “this system is revolutionary because it combines kinetic and directed energy weapons capability,” said Rinn. he indicated the system was designed to offer an affordable solution for the Navy, seamlessly integrated into existing shipboard command interfaces.

    The Mk38 Mod2 is a derivative of the Typhoon Mk 25 Weapon System developed by Rafael. Designed for the mission of ship self-protection, the system mounts the Bushmaster M242 gun and Toplite stabilized EO target acquisition system. The system is designed for use on vessels of 50 tons or greater displacement. The system’s non-penetrating deck design allows for a variety of potential applications throughout hull and superstructure locations to optimize overall operational effectiveness.

    The Mk 38 Mod 2 main weapon is the M242 Bushmaster 25-mm Chain Gun, a proven NATO standard auto cannon with 2.5 km range and selectable rates of fire. The M242 Bushmaster 25-mm Chain Gun that fires all USN-approved 25-mm ammunition at up to 180 rounds per minute, with the Mk 38 Mod 2 providing 168 rounds on-mount. Photo: Rafael

    The drones are operated on 15 hour missions, directly from Sicily via satellite link. Photo: EMA, Armée de l'Air

    In the past two weeks France has been deploying its medium altitude, long endurance ‘Harfang’ drones over Libya, operating from Sigonella air base in Sicily. Harfang was transferred from Afghanistan to support the Libyan theater of operation.

    The drones are operated on 15 hour missions, directly from Sicily via satellite link. Photo: EMA, Armée de l'Air

    It was first deployed over Libya August 18, 2011. Harfang was produced by a partnership between Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and EADS. It was delivered to the French Air Force in 2008 and has been operational since January 2009 in the Afghan theater.

    The drones are operated on 15 hour missions, directly from Sicily via satellite link. According to Lt. Col. Sebastian Mazoyer, squadron commander of the 1 / 33 ‘Belfort’ UAV unit. It is equipped with electro-optical and radar sensors, providing intelligence feeds day and night.

    Operators at the Harfang ground control station in Sicily monitor the aircraft electro-optical and radar payloads over a satellite communications link. The data collected on the 15 hour mission provides live intelligence day and night. Photo: EMA / armée de l'Air


    This view of this unfamiliar drone shows what seems to be a top (?) view of the bird-like frone. The nature of the four disks at the center is not clear, unless this is the bottom and they represent four EO cameras offering expanded area coverage... Photo via diydrones

    With the U.S. expanding the use of classified combat systems in Afghanistan and pakistan, systems lost to operational or combat attrition offer the international news media unprecedented views into such programs.

    This bird like drone gains its stealth in flight disguised to actual bird of prey. Photo: DeccanChronical
    This view of this unfamiliar drone shows what seems to be a top (?) view of the bird-like frone. The nature of the four disks at the center is not clear, unless this is the bottom and they represent four EO cameras offering expanded area coverage... Photo via diydrones.com

    The latest was an unidentified bird like mini UAV that crashed last week in north pakistan. Pakistani sources claimed it was an American surveillance drone equipped with a camera that crashed in southwestern Pakistan on Thursday close to the Afghan border. The unmanned aircraft went down because of a technical fault just inside Pakistani territory in Chaman town, in insurgency-hit Baluchistan province.

    Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that Pakistan probably let Chinese engineers examine what was left of a top-secret US stealth helicopter that crashed in the country during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May. Spencer Ackerman from Wired Danger Room speculates this UAV could be a bird like drone, that gains its stealth in flight disguised to an actual bird of prey.

    U.S. Special operations are believed to be operating several new types of small UAS, some of which are also designed to launch lethal strikes. Similar programs were conducted in the past by DARPA and the Air Force Research laboratory and the current program (LMAMS) was transferred to the Army for further development.

    The Australian Government has approved spending A$550 million on four major Defense programs. When complete, these projects are estimated to involve expenditure of around $3 billion.

    The projects include the acquisition of over 950 new 4×4 G Wagon vehicles and associated trailers for training purposes, as part of the Land 121 Phase 5A (Light and Lightweight Tactical Training Vehicles under Land). The supplier is Mercedes Benz Australia Pacific Pty Ltd. The approved value is around $425 million. The Australian industry component will include trailers and training modules. This segment is worth more than $100 million, including modules to be supplied by G. H. Varley Pty Ltd in New South Wales and trailers sourced from Queensland-based Haulmark Trailers.

    The modernization of air defense systems employed with current and future fleet (SEA 4000 Phase 3.2), including the upgrading of the Australian Navy current long range Standard Missile-2 (SM2) air defense missile systems, for future use by the Air Warfare Destroyers and funding A$20 million for a collaborative international study into the upgrade of the air defense Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) fitted to the ANZAC Class frigates and Air Warfare Destroyers as part of project SEA 1352. The SM2 program, under the Australian SEA 4000 Phase 3.2 project is valued at around $100 million and will be acquired under Foreign Military Sales (FMS) arrangements with the United States.

    The ESSM upgrade study is run by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Sea Sparrow Project Office. The total cost of Project SEA 1352 Phase 1 is cost capped between $1 billion and $2 billion in the Public Defence Capability Plan.

    The fourth program approved today is part of an Enhanced Military Satellite Capability for the Australian Defence Force (ADF), including transportable land satellite communications terminals and upgrades for satellite communications on Navy platforms. This new capability under ‘Joint Project 2008’ Phase 5B is expected to provide wide-band satellite communications capability, based on the US Wide-band Global Satellite Communications network co-funded by the Australian Government. The $12 million approved today for Phase 5B cover the acquisition of transportable land terminals to equip ADF elements, upgrades for the satellite communications fit on Royal Australian Navy platforms and the establishment of a satellite communications network management system. The work includes project development and risk mitigation studies related to the potential upgrade of the Geraldton ground station and a new ground station facility in Eastern Australia. The total cost of Joint Project 2008 Phase 5B is cost capped between $300 million and $500 million in the Public Defence Capability Plan.

    "Our new Shrike VTOL UAS is designed to address the need for a small, light-weight hovering aircraft that delivers unique surveillance and intelligence capability not provided by current solutions" Tom Hering. Photo: Aerovironment

    AeroVironment, Inc. introduced today a lightweight miniature ‘quadcopter’ designed for special operations small tactical forces. Shrike VTOL is a man-portable, vertical take off and landing  Stealthy, Persistent Perch and Stare (SP2S) Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) developed in the past four years under a DRAPA funded program.

    "Our new Shrike VTOL UAS is designed to address the need for a small, light-weight hovering aircraft that delivers unique surveillance and intelligence capability not provided by current solutions" Tom Hering. Photo: Aerovironment

    According to Tom Herring, senior vice president and general manager of AeroVironment’s UAS business segment, the Shrike VTOL can deliver many hours of high resolution live video from static positions (perch). Alternatively, it can fly a 40 minute mission or combine flying to and from perching sites, staring over the objective area for hours, using battery power. Operating quietly enough to go virtually undetected, Shrike weighs approximately five pounds and is small enough to fit in a backpack. The Shrike VTOL uses the handheld Common Ground Control System, offering full commonality with Raven, Wasp and Puma UAS.

    “With more than four years of customer funding behind it, our new Shrike VTOL unmanned aircraft system is designed to address the need for a small, light-weight hovering aircraft that delivers unique surveillance and intelligence capability not provided by current solutions.” Herring said.

    Less than a year after the program started Aeronvironment delivered five early models to DARPA for Limited User Evaluation (LUE). Ten additional aircraft were delivered at a following phase.


      This year’s DSEi will host 35 national pavilions, up from 27 national pavilions in 2009. Among the nations joining the show are Poland, Brazil and India, and the UAE. Other national pavilions include countries such as Israel, Germany, Italy, Spain.


      Naval display has always been one of the strengths’ of DSEi. Vessels expected to participate in this year’s event include the second Type 45 destroyer, HMS Dauntless and River class HMS Tyne, both from the Royal Navy, the new FGS Braunschweig, the K130 class corvette recently commissioned by the German Navy, and the Dutch Navy hydrographic survey ship HMNS Snellius and a Storm class patrol boat from the Royal Norwegian Navy.

      Naval Demonstrations

      Daily waterborne demonstrations, which will take place in front of a grandstand on the jetty, will include the Griffon Hoverwork’s new 2400TD hovercraft. The vessel has recently been upgraded to allow for a greater payload and obstacle clearance, while also providing weapons and surveillance platforms which remain stable throughout operational manoeuvres. Equipped with enhanced thermal imaging, navigation and communications tools, the hovercraft travels with ease over shallow waters, rapids and rivers, vegetation, ice and even snow. A number of small special forces craft, and a co-ordinated operation to cover equipment used in maritime security and boarding operations will also be shown as part of ‘Operation Vision’. This demo will feature manned and unmanned boats, including the advanced rescue craft from Nautilus, small unmanned surveillance helicopters, providing video links to the surface vessels. Diver detection sonars and underwater hull surveillance crawler from Seabotix will also be displayed.

      The Land Systems Park

      A new feature at this year’s event is the vehicle park. The park will feature a Husky protected logistics vehicle fitted with Chemring’s ground penetrating radar (GPR) and its Resolve communications EW system, part of the new route clearance gear designed to combat the IED threat. Another route clearance system on display is the mine clearance ploughs, shown by Pearson Engineering. Other systems on display will include the Future Local Area Defence System (FLAADS) from MBDA, RG35 mine protected 4 x 4 from BAE Systems and and Iveco’s Light Multirole Vehicle. The upgraded British Army Warrior  will be displayed, fitted with a new turret designed by Lockheed Martin UK. This upgraded vehicle delivers enhanced fighting capability, increased mobility, soldier survivability and firepower, along with an open Electronic Architecture.

      General Dynamics European Land System (GDELS) is expected to showcase here the latest member of its bridge family – the Medium Trackway Bridge (MTB). Other vehicles include the PIRANHA 3 with the HITFIST Overhead Weapon Station from Oto Melara, mounting a 30 mm automatic cannon, co-axial 7.62 mm machine gun and the SPIKE anti-tank missile launcher. and the EAGLE light tactical vehicle which will also carry the SAMSON RWS (Remote Control Weapon Station), armed with a 40 mm grenade launcher and a 7.62 mm machine gun. The Eagle has a crew capacity of 4 – to 5 soldiers, offers outstanding protection against ballistic, mine and improvised explosive device (IED) threats. The eagle is currently being evaluated by the Australian Army for its Land 121 program trials.

      Manned and Unmanned Aviation

      A hot topic at this year’s event are unmanned systems, a rapidly growing market, expected to surge from $3 billion in 2011 to more than $5.5 billion in 2019. DSEi is highlighting this topic with focus on robotics and unmanned systems, organized under a cooperation with  Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). Various unmanned and robotic systems will be demonstrated during the show, at a football pitch-sized area, located in one corner of the North Hall. A demonstration entitled ‘Foot Patrol in Afghanistan’ featuring unmanned air and ground systems, will be staged at this area daily at 10:30 and 15:30.

      As a tri-service exhibition DSEi 2011 also features air warfare topics, among the aircraft expected here are a model of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, presented by Lockheed martin and the AW159 Lynx Wildcat maritime helicopter, displayed by AgustaWestland. QinetiQ is expected to show the Zephyr long endurance UAV. Other unmanned systems expected to be on display are the Boeing/Insitu Scan Eagle, and Aeronautics’ Dominator, twin-engine optionally manned aircraft based on the Austrian Diamond DA42 commercial aircraft and the rotary wing Shiebel S-100 Camcopter. Exhibitors are also displaying sensors and avionics optimized for UAVs, including LIDAR, radar and counter-IED payloadsDSEi 2011 is increasingly being seen as the place to do business in the global defense and security market. Among the ground robotic vehicles expected here are systems from Allan Vanguard, BCB, Elbit Systems, iRobot, Marshall Land Systems, Northrop Grumman Remotec, QinetiQ, Recon Robotics, Rafael and Selex Galileo.

      Defense electronics is also in the spotlight at DSEi, the International Electronics Pavillion focuses on defense electronics systems and supply chain, attracting subcontractors, distributors and developers of components, military Commercial off the Shelf (COTS) and OEM manufacturers, offering subsystems and used by systems prime contractors.

      Security Highlights

      The international exhibition takes place at the week following the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 terror attack against the U.S.A. Reflecting the industry’s growing interest in security, DSEi features a cross-discipline theme showcase highlighting security solutions, featured in exhibitors’ stands, capability demonstrations and seminars. Under the umbrella of the DSEi 2011 security showcase and demonstration zone, international agencies, government organizations, industry and academia will be sharing experience and ideas through presentations, panel debates and informative product reviews. In addition, Thursday, 15 September was set aside as a dedicated security day, hosting senior members of the international security community invited to attend the event. The international security industry will be well represented by large prime contractors, research organizations, manufacturers and service providers, such as BAE Systems, Finmeccanica, Thales, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, QinetiQ, Explora Security, Avon Protection, Remploy and G4S.

      Visit us at Booth # N8-395 at DSEi 2011, where Defense-Update will present the new website and new features for 2012.


        Defense Update News Report

        U.S. Army Buys Switchblade Small Loitering Weapons

        The U.S. Army has awarded AeroVironment a contract worth almost $5 million for the first deliveries of Switchblade agile munition, the company announced today. The contract was awarded two month ago, on June 29, 2011, culminating a selection process for a loitering light weight munition.

        DRS To Deliver 27 Observation Towers to the U.S. Navy

        August 31, 2011: DRS Technologies will deliver 27 Ground Based Surveillance Systems to the U.S. Navy, under a 8 million order awarded by the Naval Surface Warfare Center. The SBSS is mounted on a 30 foot tower, carrying an advanced multi-sensor observation systems.the systems are expected to be delivered by March 2012.

        Raytheon Missile Systems Awarded over $700 for AMRAAM, CIWS Orders

        August 31, 2011: The Raytheon company’s Missile Systems company has won two contracts from the U.S. Air force and Navy, for the delivery of Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM). The 569 million order covers 234 AIM-120D, 101 AIM-120D Captive Air Training Missiles (CATM) and 203 AIM-120C7 Foreign Military Sales versions of the missile destined for Bahrain. The second contract, awarded by the U.S. Navy allocates 162 million to support Phalanx Close-In-Weapon Systems (CIWS) deployed on U.S. Navy vessels, as well warships of Australia, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Japan, Poland, and Bahrain. The support covered by this contract will continue through 2016.

        GDC4S Wins $3.7 Billion to to Deliver CHS-4 Electronics Hardware

        August 30, 2011: General Dynamics C4 Systems Inc., was awarded a $3,700,000,000 firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee, level-of-effort, indefinite-delivery / indefinite-quantity contract. The award will provide for the procurement of the Command Hardware Systems-4. (CHS-4) Work will be performed in Taunton, Mass., with an estimated completion date of Aug. 26, 2016.

          Eurocopter EC225 in Japan's Coast Guards service.

          Defense Update News Report

          Despite U.S. Indecision, Taiwan’s is Still Interested in F-16C/Ds

          Taiwan continues its efforts to acquire F-16 C/D fighters and diesel-powered submarines from the United States, despite the island’s improved ties with mainland China. Taiwan has asked Washington for price quotes on F-16 C/D fighter jets three times since 2006, the latest of which was made in February 2007. None of those requests have been accepted, however, on the grounds that the U.S. government had not yet formulated a policy on the issue. It was recently reported that Washington would decide on Taiwan’s latest request for F-16 C/Ds by Oct. 1. Taiwan is interested in equipping its aircraft with advanced AESA radars.

          Eurocopter EC225 in Japan's Coast Guards service.

          Japan Orders EC225 SAR Helicopters

          Japan Coast Guard has ordered three additional Eurocopter EC225 helicopters. These aircraft will be the first civilian helicopters to be equipped with advanced mission system. The Japan Coast Guard initially purchased two EC225s in 2006 through an open tender, complementing their AS332 L1 fleet for long range all-weather SAR missions as well as for ship-borne operations. these EC225 helicopters provided important service during relief operations after the earthquake and tsunami in March, in which one helicopter was lost. The current acquisition will replenish the fleet with new aircraft equipped for search and rescue (SAR) and anti-piracy missions.

          Pakistan: F-17 Thunder production On Track

          In the past two years the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has completed production of 26 JF-17 Thunder aircraft at Pakistan Aeronautical complex Karma, achieving the target set by the government.

          Indonesia – Plans for the Acquisition of two new Submarines

          Interested in acquiring two new submarines, Indonesia is currently evaluating two options. Turkey, in collaboration with the german company HDW is offering the 1400 ton Type 209 submarine, to be built in Turkey at the Golcuk naval shipyard, by the Turkish company STM under the license of HDW. HDW has already built 14 U 209-type submarines for the Turkish navy and is working in Turkey on the construction of six U 214-type diesel submarines for the Turkish Navy. Turkey is offering two of its existing Type 209 submarines on lease, as a gap filler for the indonesian navy. Indonesia is also considering buying new submarines, from the South Korean Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine. The estimated to worth about $1 billion with Turkey’s arms procurement office.


          Facing an unprecedented array of sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe, Iran’s leaders opened 2012 by announcing that a new uranium enrichment site in the mountains near Qom would soon become operational. The recent assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist—believed by many to be another strike by Israel in a covert campaign to slow Iran’s nuclear program—has only further raised tensions between Iran, the West, and Israel. The assassination and related sabotage efforts may not ultimately halt Iran’s program, and may in fact provoke an Iranian response that would increase the odds of escalation leading to a conventional conflict. Thus begins the latest round in the perennial international guessing game: will this be the year that Israel uses military force to try to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions?

          To hear it from U.S. politicians, the Iranian nuclear program is a threat to Israel’s very existence. Some urge the Obama administration to publicly support Israel’s position by leaving “all options on the table”—diplomatic speak for a military strike. But before heading down the road of military action, those concerned for Israeli security should understand not only the risks of using force against Iran. They should also take heed of the complexity of Israeli views toward Iran.

          The Israeli security establishment and public see Iran as one of Israel’s gravest strategic challenges today. This was not always the case. For decades Israel and Iran perceived common threats, such as Iraq, pan-Arab nationalism, and communism, leading to extensive if tacit cooperation during the Shah’s rule and even after the 1979 Iranian revolution. These common fears no longer exist. Instead, what Israelis see, through Iran’s financial and military links to groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, is an aggressive, bellicose Iran on its borders, making the continued expansion of its missile and nuclear programs all the more threatening.

          Israeli leaders also take seriously Iran’s vitriolic rhetoric and anti-Zionist ideology, even if many Israeli analysts question the likelihood of Iran committing suicide in the future by using nuclear weapons against what is widely believed to be an extensive Israeli nuclear capability. Yet even Israelis who believe Iran is ultimately a rational actor most interested in survival still worry about the leverage and cover nuclear weapons would give Iran, limiting Israeli flexibility and leading to an unstable and dangerous relationship that would not resemble the relative stability of Cold War deterrence.

          Nonetheless, important divisions are emerging within the Israeli strategic community over how to deal with the Iranian nuclear challenge. U.S. politicians may feel comfortable with framing Iran as an existential threat to Israel, but not all Israeli leaders do. An increasing number are concerned that overplaying the “existential threat” card may erode Israel’s own ability to deter a future Iranian bomb, suggesting that Israel could not protect itself from a nuclear Iran. Many have stopped using this term in public. Other leaders prefer to talk about Iran as a global problem rather than focus on Iran as Israel’s problem in order to enhance the international coalition that has emerged to pressure and isolate the Islamic Republic.

          Perhaps the most interesting debate in Israel today is over the question of a military strike. Last year, former Mossad head Meir Dagan publicly argued that a military attack would be a “dumb idea,” that would trigger region-wide conflict. But well before Dagan’s statements, Israeli leaders and analysts had been quietly debating the merits and feasibility of a military strike. For some, a military strike would be worth the costs even if the nuclear program were only delayed (very few believe it could be destroyed); they think that the risks of Iranian retaliation against Israeli and U.S. targets may be exaggerated. Others believe that a delay in the program could be more effectively achieved through other measures, including sabotage and continued diplomatic and economic isolation, with far fewer costs and risks of wider regional military escalation.

          It is difficult to know who has the upper hand in Israel at the moment. Reports suggest that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is sympathetic to striking Iran if the alternative is an Iranian breakout capability under his watch. But it is not clear that the Israeli military and certainly Israeli intelligence analysts share this view; many may in fact hold positions closer to U.S. assessments that are less alarmist about the timeline of the Iranian program and more cautious about the utility of a military option. Much has been made over differences between the U.S. and Israeli threat perceptions of Iran, but in fact these internal Israeli divisions suggest that the gap may not be as great as some suggest.

          U.S. policymakers have every reason to be concerned about the threat Iran poses to Israeli security, not to mention U.S. and international security. Private assurances to Israeli leaders make sense at a time of escalating regional tensions. But public statements focusing on Iran as a threat to Israel’s existence and openly discussing military options that neither U.S. nor Israeli leaders may believe are prudent may only weaken Israel’s position.

          Libyan government forces fire D46 130mm artillery from a position tracked by rebels operating the Aeryon Scout micro UAV, using a thermal camera for night operations. Photo: Aeryon

          While NATO countries fly unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) high above Libya, providing vital intelligence to NATo air forces, imagery was made available to directly support the Libyans rebels. But, according to Canadian UAV manufacturer Aeryon, the Libyan rebels have also obtained at least one drone to independently acquire intelligence on enemy positions and coordinate their resistance efforts.

          Libyan artillery position tracked by an Aeryon Scout micro-UAV operated by Libyan rebels. Images acquired by the UAV are embedded with date and time stamps to provide accurate latitude and longitude information for every target, assisting NATO air forces to pursue these targets in support of anti- Qadaffi forces. Photo: Aeryon

          The Aeryon Scout is a small, easy-to-fly man-packable flying robotic reconnaissance system. It weighs just 3 pounds, packs into a suitcase or a backpack and can be quickly and easily deployed and operated in the field. Instead of using joysticks, the Scout uses a map-based, touch-screen interface that, according to Aeryon, allows new users to pilot the system in just minutes. The Scout was designed for desert operation, such as this use in Libya, able to operate in temperatures up to +50C and in sandy or wet conditions.

          Libyan government forces fire D46 130mm artillery from a position tracked by rebels operating the Aeryon Scout micro UAV, using a thermal camera for night operations. Photo: Aeryon

          Representatives from the Transitional National Council (TNC) were looking for an imagery solution to support their troops. They wanted a simple, short range system that will provide direct support for their front line troops, without complicated training, handling, communications and logistics associated with larger systems.

          The Canadian government, which has recognized Transitional National Council as the legitimate government of Libya, approved the sale, paving the way for the delivery of UAS to the Libyan rebels. It was the first time that a Western government has allowed the transfer of drone technology to an insurgency. The Scout answered their requirements and the affordability of the system has also been a consideration, with the Scout sold for about $120,000 apiece.

          In cooperation with the Zariba Security Corporation and the Libyan Transitional National Council, Libyan troops were trained in-country on the use of the Aeryon Scout UAV. “After only one demonstration flight, the TNC soldiers operated the following flight,” said Charles Barlow of Zariba. “I was amazed how easy it was to train people with no previous UAV or aircraft experience, especially given the language barrier. Soldiers need tough, intuitive equipment – and the Scout delivered brilliantly.” With only a day and a half of training flights and a few familiarization flights, the rebels put the Scout into service on the frontline. “The system has been operating perfectly, with no incidents – quite impressive for those familiar with the statistics of other small UAVs in operational theaters,” said Barlow. With its Vertical Take off and Landing (VTOL) ability, the Scout can be deployed in tight quarters, and hover and stare at its target.

          The Libyans use both day and night-time cameras. The day camera allows for the gathering of detailed images and video. For night missions they use a thermal imager clearly identifying military equipment and people on the ground by their heat signature.

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