Abu Dhabi hosts international trade show of military drones

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A model of a Wing Loong II weaponized drone hangs above the stand for the China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corp. at a military drone conference in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018. (AP)
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A visitor to a drone conference looks at a machinegun-carrying ground drone made by Serbian firm Yugoimport'DPR J.P. in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018. (AP)
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An Emirati in the national dress stands near a General Atomics Predator XP drone on display at a drone conference in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018. (AP)
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A visitor to a drone conference tries out a parachute simulator in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018. (AP)
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A model of a General Atomics Predator XP drone hangs on display at a drone conference in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018. (AP)
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An unmanned helicopter drone AV500 and a painting of a drone are seen at the stand for the China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corp. at a military drone conference in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018. in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018. (AP)
Updated 25 February 2018
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Abu Dhabi hosts international trade show of military drones

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates: Walking through a trade show all about military drones, Emirati officials made a point on Sunday to stop first at a stand run by Chinese officials with a mock armed drone hanging above them.
Defense analysts believe that drone, the Wing Loong II, is now being used by the Emirati military while the UAE remains barred from purchasing weaponized drones from the United States.
That purchase, as well as Abu Dhabi hosting the Unmanned Systems Exhibition & Conference this week in the Emirati capital, shows the power these weapons now hold across the Middle East.
Top UAE officials, including Abu Dhabi's powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, were on hand for the drone conference, which opened on Sunday.
The UAE, home to skyscraper-studded Dubai, already has embraced drones. Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has given the $1 million Drones for Good Award in recent years. Meanwhile, civil defense officials fighting fires and lifeguards trying to save those at risk of drowning use drones in their work.
But the UAE remains highly interested in military drones.
Al-Dhafra Air Base near Abu Dhabi, which hosts some of the 5,000 American troops in the UAE, is also home to some of the US military's unmanned aircraft that flew missions over Iraq and Syria targeting Daesh.
Chief among those aircraft is the Predator, built by San Diego-based defense contractor General Atomics. The UAE previously purchased some $200 million worth of surveillance-only Predator drones from General Atomics.
The Obama administration opposed selling the UAE armed versions of the Predator over Missile Technology Control Regime, a 30-year-old agreement that aims to limit the spread of missile technology.
But that apparently didn't stop the UAE from purchasing weaponized drones. Satellite photographs taken of a mysterious Emirati air base in the country's deep south — a desert area known as the in the Empty Quarter — appear to show three Wing Loong IIs there, according to a January article by IHS Jane's Defense Weekly.
China has never acknowledged selling the drones to the UAE, though the state-run Xinhua News Agency has reported a major sale of the drones to a foreign buyer.
Asked if China sold the UAE the Wing Loong II, sales manager Zhao Chuang of the China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corp. only smiled and said: "No idea."
"We are trying to find the world market," he told The Associated Press after his colleagues greeted high-ranking Emirati officials.
General Atomics, which displayed a massive Predator surveillance drone nearby, declined to speak to the AP. However, US lawmakers last year sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking him to allow armed Predator drone sales to both the UAE and Jordan.


Japan space probe Hayabusa2 drops hopping rovers toward asteroid

Updated 21 September 2018
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Japan space probe Hayabusa2 drops hopping rovers toward asteroid

  • If the mission is successful, the rovers will conduct the world’s first moving, robotic observation of an asteroid surface
  • The Hayabusa2 mission was launched in December 2014 and will return to Earth with its samples in 2020

TOKYO: A Japanese space probe Friday released a pair of exploring rovers toward an egg-shaped asteroid to collect mineral samples that may shed light on the origin of the solar system.
The “Hayabusa2” probe jettisoned the round, cookie tin-shaped robots toward the Ryugu asteroid, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
If the mission is successful, the rovers will conduct the world’s first moving, robotic observation of an asteroid surface.
Taking advantage of the asteroid’s low gravity, they will jump around on the surface — soaring as high as 15 meters and staying in the air for as long as 15 minutes — to survey the asteroid’s physical features with cameras and sensors.
So far so good, but JAXA must wait for the Hayabusa2 probe to send data from the rovers to Earth in a day or two to assess whether the release has been a success, officials said.
“We are very much hopeful. We don’t have confirmation yet, but we are very, very hopeful,” Yuichi Tsuda, JAXA project manager, told reporters.
“I am looking forward to seeing pictures. I want to see images of space as seen from the surface of the asteroid,” he said.
The cautious announcement came after a similar JAXA probe in 2005 released a rover which failed to reach its target asteroid.
Next month, Hayabusa2 will deploy an “impactor” that will explode above the asteroid, shooting a two-kilo (four-pound) copper object into the surface to blast a crater a few meters in diameter.
From this crater, the probe will collect “fresh” materials unexposed to millennia of wind and radiation, hoping for answers to some fundamental questions about life and the universe, including whether elements from space helped give rise to life on Earth.
The probe will also release a French-German landing vehicle named Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) for surface observation.
Hayabusa2, about the size of a large fridge and equipped with solar panels, is the successor to JAXA’s first asteroid explorer, Hayabusa — Japanese for falcon.
That probe returned from a smaller, potato-shaped, asteroid in 2010 with dust samples despite various setbacks during its epic seven-year odyssey and was hailed a scientific triumph.
The Hayabusa2 mission was launched in December 2014 and will return to Earth with its samples in 2020.