• Virginia Tech to get $2.6 million to test unmanned aircraft systems

    The Commonwealth of Virginia announced it will award more than $2.6 million over three years in Federal Action Contingency Trust (FACT) funds to Virginia Tech to operate an unmanned aircraft systems test site in the state, officials from the governor’s office said. The test range is operated by the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, which is led by Virginia Tech and Rutgers University and represents an effort safely to develop unmanned aircraft systems. The University of Maryland has also agreed to partner with Virginia Tech and Rutgers on unmanned aircraft system integration.

  • U.S. Navy demonstrates UAV launch from submerged submarine

    The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) demonstrated the launch of an all-electric, fuel cell-powered, unmanned aerial system (UAS) from a submerged submarine. The successful submerged launch of a remotely deployed UAS offers a pathway to providing mission critical intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities to the U.S. Navy’s submarine force.

  • TCOM’s aerostat systems help U.S. Border Patrol

    Several TCOM aerostat systems are being evaluated by Border Patrol agents in operational environments along U.S.-Mexico border. TCOM’s aerostat systems enable operators to view activity along the border. The system can typically remain aloft for two weeks to one month at a time. With operational altitudes of up to 5,000ft, the aerostats provide monitoring of thousands of square miles.

  • Ohio lawmakers want to limit use of drones by law enforcement

    State lawmakers in Ohio want to limit the use of drones by law enforcement agencies in the state.A proposed bill would require law enforcement to obtain a search warrant before using drones. It would prohibit law enforcement from using drones to search for missing persons, locate illegal marijuana operations, or perform several actions officers currently handle with helicopter surveillance.

  • Navy blimp returns to Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. skies today

    The U.S. Navy’s only manned airship, a modified American Blimp Corporation A-170 series commercial blimp, will return to the skies of Maryland today, 12 November, to conduct week-long testing of experimental avionics systems.Results of this research may ultimately help protect forward deployed U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps troops around the globe.

  • DoD ends ambitious blimp program

    The Department of Defensehas decided to end its Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) project.The blimp was supposed to fly for as long as three weeks at a time, gather intelligence using 2,500 pounds worth of the most advanced cameras, sensors, and other intelligence technology. Operating at an altitude of 20,000 feet, the airship was designed to withstand enemy fire with its blend of fabrics, including kevlar. The Pentagon spent $297 million on the airship, but last month sold it back to one of the contractors which built it for $301,000.

  • UAV developer CyPhy Works raises $7 million to build flying robots

    Danvers, Massachusetts-based CyPhy Works, a developer of advanced UAVs, the other day announced the close of a $7 million financing round led by Lux Capital, with participation from General Catalyst Partners, Felicis Ventures, and several undisclosed angel investors. As part of the financing, Lux Capital Partner Bilal Zuberi will join the CyPhy Works board of directors. The company says it targets 24/7 “persistent” operations.

  • U.S. worries about proliferation of drone technology

    A new Amnesty International report about U.S. drone use in the war on terror says that the drone campaign is killing so many civilians, that it does not only violate international law, but may be a war crime. The report also says that the growing use of drones by the United States in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia encourages their use by other states and groups. The United States rejects the figures of civilian casualties cited in the Amnesty report as unreliable, and says that the research methodology the report’s authors used is deeply flawed. The United States does agree, however, that there is a reason to worry about the proliferation of drone technology. “Going forward this is a technology that we know more people will probably get access to,” a State Department spokeswoman said.

  • Greater role for Pentagon in next phase of U.S. war on terror

    The Obama administration had dramatically increased the use of drones in the war against terrorists. The number of drone strike has declined this year relative to the high levels of 2010-11. The number of drone strikes may increase again, but this past weekend’s Special Forces raids in Somalia and Libya are an indication that the next phase in the U.S. war on terrorism would see, in relative terms, less of a reliance on CIA-operated drones and a greater role for the Pentagon.

  • Number of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen significantly reduced

    In the past several months, the United States has reduced the number of drone strikes on terrorist targets in Pakistan and Yemen. The United States launched 117 drone strikes in Pakistan in 2010, compared to twenty-one so far this year. Representative Mike Rogers (R-Michigan), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is concerned. “[The threat of terrorism is] not diminishing,” he said. “There have been counterterrorism changes made by the administration that have concerned us all, things that we’ve been working on for a period of months that we’re trying to work through that are very, very concerning. This is no time to retreat.”

  • Al Qaeda increases efforts to defeat U.S. drones

    Drone attacks have been an important part of America’s war against terrorism. These airstrikes have considerably limited the movements and operational freedom of al Qaeda operatives and other militants in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Al Qaeda has been exploring strategies and experts to allow it to counter America’s drone campaign.

  • Navy blimp conducts aerial mapping operations in the Washington D.C. Flight Restriction Zone

    The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and the Navy’s sole Science & Technology research squadron, Scientific Development Squadron ONE (VXS-1), began operating the MZ-3A lighter-than-air blimp in the regions surrounding Washington, D.C. on 21 September. The Navy MZ-3A is conducting aerial mapping operations within the Washington D.C. Flight Restriction Zone (DCA-FRZ).

  • Compact aerostat offers affordable, portable surveillance solution

    Columbia, Maryland-based TCOM last week unveiled its newest aerostat platform, the 12M Tactical Aerostat. The system is designed to meet the needs of soldiers and first responders who require a compact, affordable, persistent surveillance solution which can be transported anywhere, rapidly deployed, and easily retrieved.

  • World's smallest drone may be a search-and-rescue tool

    See video

    Researchers have designed, built, and tested the world’s smallest open source autopilot for small unmanned aircraft. A smaller and lighter autopilot — it weighs only 1.9 grams — allows these small flying robots to fly longer, fit into narrower spaces, or carry more payloads such as cameras. This makes them more suitable to be used, for example, rescue operations.

     

  • DHS takes control of Arizona border blimp, grounding it for repairs

    A 208-foot long white blimp has been floating two miles above Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, using radar continuously to scan the area along the border, looking for low-flying aircraft drug smugglers use to bring drugs into the United States. The sensors on board can detect activity in distances of up to 230 miles. The blimp, had been operated by the U.S. Air Force, but DHS has now assumed responsibility for it. It is one of eight aerostats deployed along the U.S. southern border.