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.


New NASA lander captures 1st sounds of Martian wind

In this image obtained from NASA, InSight's robotic-arm mounted Instrument Deployment Camera shows the instruments on the spacecraft's deck, with the Martian surface of Elysium Planitia in the background. (AFP)
Updated 08 December 2018
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New NASA lander captures 1st sounds of Martian wind

  • The noise is of the wind blowing against InSight’s solar panels and the resulting vibration of the entire spacecraft

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida: NASA’s new Mars lander has captured the first sounds of the “really unworldly” Martian wind.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory released audio clips of the alien wind Friday. The low-frequency rumblings were collected by the InSight lander during its first week of operations at Mars.
The wind is estimated to be blowing 10 mph to 15 mph (16 kph to 24 kph). These are the first sounds from Mars that are detectible by human ears, according to the researchers.
“Reminds me of sitting outside on a windy summer afternoon ... In some sense, this is what it would sound like if you were sitting on the InSight lander on Mars,” Cornell University’s Don Banfield told reporters.
Scientists involved in the project agree the sound has an otherworldly quality to it.
Thomas Pike of Imperial College London said the rumbling is “rather different to anything that we’ve experienced on Earth, and I think it just gives us another way of thinking about how far away we are getting these signals.”
The noise is of the wind blowing against InSight’s solar panels and the resulting vibration of the entire spacecraft. The sounds were recorded by an air pressure sensor inside the lander that’s part of a weather station, as well as the seismometer on the deck of the spacecraft.
The low frequencies are a result of Mars’ thin air density and even more so the seismometer itself — it’s meant to detect underground seismic waves, well below the threshold of human hearing. The seismometer will be moved to the Martian surface in the coming weeks; until then, the team plans to record more wind noise.
The 1976 Viking landers on Mars picked up spacecraft shaking caused by wind, but it would be a stretch to consider it sound, said InSight’s lead scientist, Bruce Banerdt, of JPL in Pasadena, California.
The “really unworldly” sounds from InSight, meanwhile, have Banerdt imaging he’s “on a planet that’s in some ways like the Earth, but in some ways really alien.”
InSight landed on Mars on Nov. 26.
“We’re all still on a high from the landing last week ... and here we are less than two weeks after landing, and we’ve already got some amazing new science,” said NASA’s Lori Glaze, acting director of planetary science. “It’s cool, it’s fun.”