“Artemis” .. a journey inside the world’s most modern spy plane


Introduction to translation

Markus Weisgerber, editor of Defense One magazine who specializes in business and commerce topics that cut across national security, takes us on… a trip To get acquainted with the “Artemis” plane, the latest spy plane in the world, which has already entered service with the US Army, and is expected to expand its manufacture to perform missions in Europe, Africa, and the Indian and Pacific regions. What is characterized by the newest spy plane in the world? And how to launch a new revolution in collecting information?

Translation text

From a distance, the pure white business jet neatly arrayed in the hangar draped over the giant American flag looks similar to other luxury private jets arriving and departing from Virginia, but on the inside it is far from a regular plane.

The plane contains cloth chairs, and the cabin is crowded with metal boxes that contain Internet servers, which makes it closer to a technological equipment store, in addition to two computer units connected to more than ten air pickups that appear protruding from the bottom of the plane. For the US military, this plane and its siblings are a ticket to future wars, built to monitor an enemy country’s complex communications from a non-confrontational distance, rather than tracking gossip from militants on the ground.

Airplane Artemis

The aircraft, called the Artemis, uses its multiple antennas and computers to intercept and decode enemy communications. The aircraft itself is manufactured by the Canadian company Bombardier, with specialized modifications carried out by the Virginia-based defense and technology company Ledos. “These drones can see from a very long distance when operating at altitudes of up to 12 kilometres,” Mike Chanyon, vice president of Lidos Group, said in a previous interview. The Artemis is the second plane modified by Ledos after the Challenger 650, which was modified for the army as part of an experimental technology. The L3Harris technology company is developing similar business jets to be spy planes. It is called ARES.

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Technology company L3Harris is developing similar business jets as spy planes, which they call ARES. (Anatolia)

Ledos and L3 Harris aircraft are helping the US military in its plans to develop its aircraft in the long term into new aircraft with high-altitude espionage capabilities, efforts that were reflected in the so-called “High Precision Detection and Exploitation System”, known for short. Hades. These aircraft will replace the helicopters that were used extensively to survey the battlefields in the skies of Iraq and Afghanistan in search of militants and roadside bombs. “The US military wants multi-level sensor capabilities that range from space to muddy terrain,” says Chanyon. “This plane is the air version[of that capability].” The American website Defense One received an invitation to view the Ledos plane shortly before it was placed at the disposal of the army, and the site, in turn, agreed not to share the location of the base where the plane was parked.

In November 2021, an Artemis aircraft was withdrawn from a US Army exercise to be deployed to Europe as part of a NATO effort to monitor Russian forces near the Ukrainian border. For more than 10 days, the plane flew from Arizona to Virginia, where it was modified before flying to Europe, according to Chanyon, who added that the plane “has not actually returned to the United States since then.” By early December, the first plane had flown more than 370 missions for fighter commanders around the world with 3,200 flying hours, said Roger Kron, CEO of Ledus, as he attended a small handover ceremony at the aircraft depot. “It basically flies in a pattern like mowing the lawn for 10 hours, and then it collects a huge amount of data,” says Chanyon.

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The plane currently flies an average of six days a week for 9-10 hours a day, according to Chanyon. These aircraft are considered unarmed and do not fly in what are known as “contested” airspaces that are protected by surface-to-air missiles and fighter jets (which can shoot down spy planes)*. “We will not enter disputed skies directly, but rather look into the conflict environment from a sufficient height and distance to avoid confrontation,” says Chanyeon. “Our planes usually fly over areas that are not disputed at all, and only monitor the area below.”

External contractors

Ledus has bought two Bombardier Global 6500s and intends to convert them into spy planes for another Army competition called the Athena-R for the manufacture of a spy plane. (Reuters)

As much as this plane opens the way to a new phase of the conflict, it also opens the door to a new way of purchasing planes, as these planes are owned, operated and maintained by Ledos employees, not the army. But through satellites, US military officials are able to communicate with the plane’s sensors remotely, and the military pays Ledos an hourly fee. Chanyon says: “This matter benefits the government, and benefits the country. We are responsible for the continuation of the flight of the plane, and the army no longer has to have this long logistical burden, which is sometimes the most expensive item in the government program.”

Chanyeon continued, “They can turn off the tap on these aircraft whenever they want. So we are determined to keep innovating in these aircraft and make them more efficient, and find as many talents as possible to maintain a high rate of mission efficiency.” It took almost 18 months to create the first Artemis aircraft, from idea to delivery, and the second is on its way to delivery ahead of schedule, as it took only five months since signing the contract. Roger Crone has repeatedly noted that both the company and the military have invested in this aircraft to be able to buy and convert business jets into military spy planes, adding, “This delivery is the culmination of a lot of hard work and risk we took together.”

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This technology is available, which means that different types of sensors made by different companies can be installed on any aircraft. The US government owns some of these sensors, and Ledos has also bought some of them. The company has also purchased two larger Bombardier Global 6500s, and is intent on turning them into spy planes for another Army competition called the Athena-R for Manufacture of a spy plane.The contractors will own and operate the Athena-R, which will serve as a bridge to the HAADES program. (In addition to the Athena-R, the Army is also working on a modification of a second Challenger 650 business jet to be the second generation of Artemis aircraft).

In 2020 Ledos acquired Alabama-based Dainetics, a company specializing in directed energy, space projects, drones and supersonic technology. (communication Web-sites)

For Ledos, the IT government contractor, Artemis reflects efforts to diversify its business. In 2020, the company acquired Dainetics, an Alabama-based company that specializes in directed energy, space projects, drones, and supersonic technology. (All of these pilot programs will help the Army determine the requirements for Hades’ acquisition of a new fleet of high-altitude business jets. At the same time, the Artemis, Ares, and Athena-R are expected to perform Actual aerial espionage missions for the benefit of US military leaders and their allies in Europe, Africa, and the Indo-Pacific regions).


Translation: Hadeer Abdel Azim

This report is translated from Defense One It does not necessarily represent the site of Meydan.

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