Australia will buy six U.S. Triton remotely piloted aircraft to beef up its maritime patrols, with the initial investment of A$1.4 billion ($1 billion) for the first drone, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Tuesday. The government said the Triton drones, made by Northrop Grumman Corp, would be used alongside P-8A Poseidon aircraft for long range operations and intelligence gathering, and would improve anti-submarine warfare and marine strike capability. "This investment will protect our borders and make our region more secure," Turnbull and Australia's defence ministers said in a joint statement. The total cost for the six drones, including facilities upgrades and support, will be A$6.9 billion, a person familiar with the transaction said. Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne's office declined to comment on the total cost of the aircraft, which can fly for up to 24 hours and have sensors that can view the surrounding area over 2,000 nautical miles (3,700 kms).
Mullah Fazlullah, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader, accused of shooting activist Malala Yousafzai was killed by a United States drone strike June 13 close to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, a U.S. military official confirmed to Voice of America. "U.S. forces conducted a counterterrorism strike June 13 in Kunar province, close to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which targeted a senior leader of a designated terrorist organization," army Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan said. He was reportedly traveling in a vehicle with four other commanders when the strike took place, Pakistani daily the Express Tribune reported. "A US drone strike in Afghanistan's northeastern Kunar province has killed the leader of the TTP," Mohammad Radmanish, Afghanistan's Ministry of Defense spokesperson, told CNN. "US Forces-Afghanistan and NATO-led Resolute Support forces continue to adhere to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan's unilateral ceasefire with the Afghan Taliban, announced by ... Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, which began on the 27th day of Ramadan," a statement from U.S. Forces-Afghanistan said claiming the strike did not put the ceasefire order by President Ashraf Ghani into risk, CNN reported. "As previously stated, the ceasefire does not include US counterterrorism efforts against IS-K, al Qaeda, and other regional and international terrorist groups, or the inherent right of US and international forces to defend ourselves if attacked," the statement added.
Despite being commercially available, drones can be a real threat. They can barge into no-fly zones, engage in mid-air crashes, reconnaissance missions, or even conduct deadly air-strikes. The risk of such attacks never wears off but in order protect its critical installations against rogue UAVs, United States military is working on some lethal counter-drone weapons. The service, in collaboration with defense manufacturer Raytheon, has produced two Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAV) -- one that uses high power microwave (HPM) to disable the target and other that deploys a high energy laser (HEL) to disintegrate it. The two systems were put to test in a recent Maneuver Fire Integrated Experiment and were able to take out as many as 45 different drones out of the sky, along with a few stationary mortal projectiles, Popular Mechanics reported.
The Chinese military, Thursday, strongly condemned and opposed the trespassing of an Indian Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) into Chinese airspace. India, on the same day, claimed that the UAV "lost control" and entered into Chinese territory through the Sikkim (a state in India) border. According to a report by the Hindustan Times, an Indian news website, India replied to the incident, Thursday, claiming that the UAV was on a "regular training mission," lost control and crossed the border area from Sikkim. A statement by the Indian Defense Ministry said: "An Indian UAV which was on a regular training mission inside the Indian territory lost contact with the ground control due to some technical problem and crossed over the LAC [Line of Actual Control] in the Sikkim Sector. As per standard protocol, the Indian border security personnel immediately alerted their Chinese counterparts to locate the UAV."
Artificial Intelligence (AI) in warfare has been growing rapidly. Several weapons now use integrated AI software to slowly reduce the number of soldiers in direct mortal peril. These weapon systems can target and attack anyone without human intervention. But, the growth of this technology is raising a few eyebrows. Several prominent scientists have already questioned the future of AI machinery simply because of the unpredictability.
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. Maj Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesman, told the Guardian, "I do not have any information that would substantiate that report but that could change and we are looking into this." Rukmini Callimachi, a correspondent for the New York Times, also said two senior U.S. officials denied that Jones was dead. Fifty-years-old Jones was born in Greenwich, southeast London, and later moved to Kent.
The U.S. Army ordered units to halt the use of DJI drones, it was revealed last week, but officials still won't say why it banned the company's products. DJI told International Business Times it reached out to officials about the direction to discontinue the use of its drones, but the U.S. army did not respond to them. "The US Army has not explained why it suddenly banned the use of DJI drones and components, what'cyber vulnerabilities' it is concerned about, or whether it has also excluded drones made by other manufacturers," DJI said. In a letter obtained by sUAS News, the U.S. Army Research Lab and U.S. Navy found there were operational risks associated with DJI products. 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."