South Korea planned to introduce a new counter to North Korea's burgeoning nuclear weapons program: drones. South Korean news wire agency Yonhap reported Tuesday that the nation planned to roll out a new weaponized drone unit next year. "The Army plans to set up a special organization to lead the development of dronebots, establish a standard platform and expand the dronebot program by function," an Army official told Yonhap, asking not be named because they weren't authorized to discuss the matter. "To begin with, we will launch a dronebot combat unit next year and use it as a'game changer' in warfare." The drones primary function will be for surveillance -- North Korea has launched a number of ballistic missile tests this year and many of them came without warning.
Sally Jones, a former punk rocker from Kent, United Kingdom, who gained notoriety as "Mrs Terror" after joining the Islamic State group (also called ISIS), was reportedly killed in a United States drone strike along with her 12-year old son Jojo in Syria as she tried to escape Raqqa, the Sun reported. Though Whitehall sources confirmed reports that Jones was killed, according to the Guardian, the Pentagon was unable to confirm the news. Jones collected another nickname -- White Widow --after Hussain was killed by a U.S. army drone in IS group capital of Raqqa in 2015. Metro reported that in a Twitter post after Hussain's death, Jones claimed she was "proud my husband was killed by the biggest enemy of Allah, may Allah be pleased with him."
The memo cited a classified report, "DJI UAS Technology Threat and User Vulnerabilities," and a U.S. Navy memo, "Operational Risks with Regards to DJI Family of Products." The rule also applies to other items from the company, including flight computers, cameras, radios, batteries, speed controllers, GPS units, handheld control stations, and devices with DJI software applications installed. "We can confirm that guidance was issued," the U.S. Army told International Business Times on Tuesday, "however, we are currently reviewing the guidance and cannot comment further at this time." Others have expressed privacy concerns regarding data collection, as reports claimed DJI shared information with Chinese authorities, a claim the company has disputed.
The Army Aviation Engineering Directorate has issued over 300 separate Airworthiness Releases for DJI products in support of multiple organisations with a variety of mission sets. The Army ordered its units to halt the use of DJI products, including all of the company's unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). The Department of the Army memo even reports that they have'issued over 300 separate Airworthiness Releases for DJI products in support of multiple organizations with a variety of mission sets.' Others have expressed privacy concerns regarding data collection, as reports claimed DJI shared information with Chinese authorities.
"The armed pro-regime Shaheed-129 UAV was shot down by a U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle at approximately 12:30 a.m. Carla Babb, the Pentagon correspondent for Voice of America (VOA) tweeted Tuesday saying the sources have confirmed that the Iranian-made drone shot down by the U.S. fighter jet was being operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. The Russian Defense Ministry said Tuesday it would exert new control over the skies of western Syria in response to the downing of a Syrian fighter jet by the U.S. Air Force on Sunday, reports said. "From now on, in areas where Russian aviation performs combat missions in the skies of Syria, any airborne objects found west of the Euphrates River, including aircraft and unmanned vehicles belonging to the international coalition, tracked by means of Russian land and air anti-aircraft defense, will be considered air targets," CNN reported citing the Defense Ministry statement. The U.S. military has established a roughly 50-kilometer "deconfliction" ring around al-Tanf and has warned the pro-Assad forces -- through a Russian deconfliction channel -- that movement within the zone could be considered hostile and the Iranian drone was outside that deconfliction area when it was shot down, the Washington Post reported citing a U.S. defense official.
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system, which is designed to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles, is being deployed in Seongju in order to protect South Korea from Pyongyang's growing threats. "It was confirmed that (the craft) took photos of the THAAD site in Seongju," a South Korean defense official told reporters, adding that the distance between the border and the zone in North Gyeongsang Province is around 168 miles. A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched during a successful intercept test, in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency. "The THAAD defensive missile system is critical to protecting South Koreans from Kim Jong Un's arsenal," U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce said in a statement last week.
The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) recently tested autonomously flying F-16 fighter jets in collaboration with Lockheed Martin. The tests could mark a big leap for military drone technology as these jets could be used in the future for large scale air-to-ground strikes. "This demonstration is an important milestone in AFRL's maturation of technologies needed to integrate manned and unmanned aircraft in a strike package. We've not only shown how an Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle can perform its mission when things go as planned, but also how it will react and adapt to unforeseen obstacles along the way," Capt. Andrew Petry, AFRL autonomous flight operations engineer, said in a press release issued Monday by Lockheed Martin.
Shifting from the drone policy of the Obama administration, President Donald Trump has given the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) new authority to conduct drone attacks against suspected militants, anonymous U.S. officials said. Under the Obama administration, the CIA used drones and other intelligence resources to locate suspected terrorists and then the military conducted the actual strike. Although officials said that the new authority under Trump is only for CIA's operations in Syria, it is likely the CIA may be able to conduct drone strikes in other areas as well. "There are a lot of problems with the drone program and the targeted killing program, but the CIA should be out of the business of ordering lethal strikes," said Christopher Anders, deputy director of the Washington office of the American Civil Liberties Union.
The skies over the United States were a little more crowded than usual following a test by the Department of Defense that sent more than 100 drones scattering across the sky, according to a report from the BBC. A total of 103 of the miniature, unmanned flying vehicles were released from a trio of Three F/A-18 Super Hornets, a popular Navy fighter aircraft. Called Perdix drones, the flyers have a wingspan of just 12 inches and move entirely autonomously--no human control required. Footage of the devices in action from October 2016, taken from Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, was recently released by the Department of Defense. In it, the drones can be seen being released into the sky and swarming together, making use of the collective brain that controls them.
Amid Syria's five-year-old civil war and Iraq's push to expel the Islamic State group from its major cities, President Barack Obama has quietly reneged on promises of "no boots on the ground" in recent years. A campaign involving private contractors, drone strikes and up to 300 U.S. Special Operations troops against the al Qaeda offshoot group al-Shabab has been escalating there over the past year, the New York Times reported Sunday, citing "senior American military officials." Somalia, along with Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, isn't alone when it comes to American military involvement. On Thursday, Oct. 13, the U.S. engaged in direct military action with Somalia's neighbor, Yemen, entering into a civil war there between the Yemeni government and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.