More Border Patrol Gadgets – ‘R-Bat’ unmanned helicopter

Northrop Grumman and Yamaha Motor Corporation, USA, are teaming up to develop a small, unmanned autonomous helicopter system. The Rotary-Bat (R-Bat) is aimed at a range of applications in both urban and rural areas, including search and rescue, power line inspection, border patrol and forest fire observation.

Although Yamaha might be better known for outboard motors and ground-based transportation of the two-wheeled variety, it has been producing remotely-piloted unmanned helicopters for over 25 years. Its RMAX unmanned helicopters have been dusting Japanese crops for over 20 years and have recently been studied for potential use in US agriculture.

It is Yamaha’s RMAX platform that the R-Bat helicopter will be based upon, while Northrop Grumman will supply the aircraft’s autonomous control systems and sensors. Its name signals that it will join the ranks of Northrop Grumman’s existing line of Bat unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) that are used for tactical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance applications.

Neither company has released technical details of the R-Bat, but being based on the RMAX it should follow that vehicle’s measurements of 2,750 mm (9 ft) long (3,630 mm (11.9 ft) with the rotor), 730 mm (2.4 ft) wide and 1,080 mm (3.5 ft) high.

A test flight of the R-Bat unmanned helicopter system can be seen in the following video. Source: Northrop Grumman

Australia to buy US drones for border patrol

Triton drone surveillance fleet to be based at Edinburgh air force base in Adelaide (ABC News)

Triton drone surveillance fleet to be based at Edinburgh air force base in Adelaide (ABC News)

Australia today announced it will buy unmanned surveillance drones from the US to protect its borders and commercial interests.

The fleet, to be based in Adelaide, would provide the defence force “with unprecedented maritime surveillance capabilities”, PM Tony Abbott said. The drones would also be used to protect energy resources, he added. The drones, which are still being tested by the US navy, can remain airborne for up to 33 hours. The number of drones to be purchased is yet to be determined.

“We do need to have a strong defence – national security is as important as economic security when it comes to the good government of our country,” Abbott said. “Given that Australia has responsibility for something like 11% of the world’s oceans, it’s very important that we’ve got a very effective maritime surveillance capability.” The MQ-4C Triton drones, which are unmanned aerial vehicles used for surveillance, can cruise at altitudes up to 55,000 feet. The vehicle’s size is comparable to a small aircraft with a wingspan of 40 metres (131 feet).

In Australia, the drones are to be stationed at Adelaide’s air force base. Abbott said the purchase plan would boost South Australia’s economy with about A$100m ($90m, £54m) in investments. The announcement comes as Australia steps up its maritime border patrols to deter asylum seekers arriving by boat from neighboring Indonesia. Source: The Nation