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17-08-11, 02:12 PM
Saab Takes Shot At Navy Drone Deal

By Carlo Munoz

Published: August 15, 2011

Washington: Swedish aerospace firm Saab is taking on U.S. defense industry heavyweight Boeing and other American firms to land the the rights to a lucrative Navy unmanned drone deal.

Partnered with prime contractor Computer Science Corporation, Saab is pitching its Skeldar vertical-lift unmanned aircraft for the Navy's Close-Range Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance program.

The Navy deal, estimated to be worth upwards of $800 million, will be to provide a small UAS to Navy and Marine Corps units until the service's new Small Tactical Unmanned Aerial System is ready for prime time, Navy spokesman Joe Gradisher told AOL Defense today.

The winner will support airborne ISR for seven Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, for eight-month rotations at sea, according to the Navy.

Boeing's Scan Eagle drone is widely considered as being the front-runner to win the aerial drone deal, since it is currently the Navy's primary close-range ISR system. The Navy has also selected the company's Integrator UAS for the STUAS contract last July.

But with the Integrator still several years from production, combined with the recent criticism STUAS has taken on the Hill, the Navy is now hard-pressed to get something viable into the field, according to an industry source.

Aside from CSC-Saab, defense firm Textron is also preparing a proposal for the Navy on the program.

The Skeldar is one example of the helicopter-like UAS the services have pursued in recent years. The Marine Corps is preparing to choose between Boeing's A160 Hummingbird UAS and Lockheed Martin's K-MAX drone for its unmanned aerial cargo system later this year.

The Hummingbird is already in service with Special Operations Command and the Navy recently completed operational testing of its newest rotary-wing UAS, the Fire Scout.

17-08-11, 04:00 PM
ESC Radar Program Reaches Major Milestone

(Source: USAF Electronic Systems Center; issued Aug. 16, 2011)

HANSCOM AFB, Mass. --- The Electronic Systems Center's Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program, or MP-RTIP, sensor recently had its first flight on Global Hawk Block 40.

"This event marks a major milestone for the program after nearly 10 years of planning, development and initial testing," said Lt. Col. Michael Harm, ESC MP-RTIP program manager. "However, we still have a lot of work ahead of us."

The MP-RTIP is an active electronically scanned array radar that increases situational awareness for the warfighter with improved radar imagery.

On July 21, 2011, at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., the sensor flew on a Global Hawk Block 40 for the first time.

"This flight demonstrated an initial functionality of MP-RTIP on Global Hawk," said Capt. Kevin Hoy, MP-RTIP test management lead. "The team still needs to verify that the radar is performing as expected."

A second flight was executed on July 28. Although the main purpose of both flights was to make certain the air vehicle's electrical system was operational, the radar was powered on and collected imagery throughout the flights.

To reduce program risk and cut costs, previous flight evaluations had been performed on a surrogate manned test platform called "Proteus," which mimics the flight characterizations of a Global Hawk. More than 150,000 radar scans were completed on Proteus before the integration of the radar onto Global Hawk.

"Although we are still working with our contractor to make improvements to the sensor software, the new flights are ensuring that what we saw with the MP-RTIP on Proteus will be the same for the Global Hawk Block 40," said Captain Hoy.

The testing is being conducted by a combined team of the Joint STARS Test Force from Melbourne, Fla., and the 452nd Flight Test Squadron from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

The test team plans to fully verify the radar's performance by early 2012 and development testing of the Global Hawk Block 40 is planned to continue until the end of 2013.

"I'm proud of our combined government and industry team's efforts to achieve this important milestone, which brings us one step closer to providing this complementary surveillance capability to our warfighter," said Col. David Hiltz, Aerial Ground Surveillance Systems Division chief.

Other areas where the MP-RTIP could be used are also being addressed.

"Our team is continuing to make improvements to the system's software," said Captain Hoy. "The MP-RTIP provides the warfighter with the next generation radar and we want to ensure we maximize all its abilities."

Following successful testing on Global Hawk Block 40, fielding of MP-RTIP is planned for 2014.


17-08-11, 04:03 PM
Boeing Communications Relay Links Radios with Multiple Unmanned Platforms

(Source: Boeing Co.; issued August 16, 2011)

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. --- Boeing today announced it has successfully demonstrated the company's newest narrowband communications relay aboard two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) -- an Insitu ScanEagle and a portable AeroVironment Puma All Environment (AE).

The relay was designed to meet the needs of small distributed forces operating in areas where line-of-sight communications are not possible. It is the longest-range narrowband relay successfully flown in the Puma AE and ScanEagle platforms to date.

During the multiservice demonstrations, held in California in May and this month, UAVs flew at a variety of altitudes while linking handheld military radios dispersed over mountainous regions. The tests confirmed the relay's performance and versatility. Using the two UAV platforms extended the radios' range tenfold.

"Military forces participating in the demonstration confirmed the urgent need to extend the range of thousands of deployed radios by using a UAV fleet that already exists," said Dick Paquette, Boeing C4I Payloads program manager. "Boeing designs, builds and integrates small UAV payload systems for a variety of missions, and while this exercise focused on military situations, these relays can be used for any situation in which teams need to communicate over a hilly or mountainous area, such as search-and-rescue missions."

Boeing designed the new relay to maximize the functionality of the aircraft's existing capabilities. The relay also meets the weight, space, and power limitations of small UAVs, and can be operated in environments where electromagnetic interference may be an issue. The relay is currently fielded in theater and undergoing additional demonstrations.

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world's largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $32 billion business with 64,000 employees worldwide.


17-08-11, 04:22 PM
AeroVironment Gets $65 Million Order for Digital Puma

Posted on August 17, 2011 by The Editor

AeroVironment, Inc. announced that it has received a firm-fixed-price contract delivery order valued at $65,532,394 for new digital Puma All Environment (AE) unmanned aircraft systems and initial spares packages.

The items were procured through the existing United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) All Environment Capable Variant (AECV) indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract. Deliveries are scheduled to be completed over the next several months.

“Puma systems have demonstrated their effectiveness and are receiving high marks from customers for their image quality and overall capabilities,” said Tom Herring, AeroVironment Senior Vice-President and General Manager of its Unmanned Aircraft Systems business segment. “Like Raven and Wasp, Puma is helping to expand the role of small unmanned aircraft systems, and in the process is protecting our forces and helping them to do their jobs more effectively.”

USSOCOM selected the Puma UAS in 2008 for its AECV programme after a full and open competition – the fourth U.S. Department of Defense competition for programmes of record involving small UAS and the fourth such competition won by AeroVironment. Each Puma system consists of three air vehicles and two ground control systems. The aircraft carries an integrated electro-optical and an infrared gimballed video payload, is designed for enhanced durability in land and maritime environments and can operate effectively in foul weather and over rugged terrain. Its quiet operation, stabilized imagery and precision landing capability make Puma systems easy to operate and recover. The Puma weighs 13 pounds, is battery powered and has a flight endurance of two hours.

Source: Press Release

17-08-11, 04:24 PM
Emergency Parachutes for Civilian UAS

Posted on August 16, 2011 by The Editor

Larry Williams, CEO of BRS Aerospace, said at EAA AirVenture that his company is working on research projects to develop parachute systems for unmanned aircraft, in addition to its current line for light aircraft.

Since 1980, BRS Inc. (Ballistic Recovery Systems, Inc.) has developed a line of whole-aircraft recovery systems credited with saving hundreds of lives and minimizing property damage. These unique safety systems are designed to provide a parachute-assisted descent that facilitates recovery of a disabled unmanned aircraft with minimal-to-no damage to onboard sensors. The documented success and acceptance of this technology has evolved into a robust product line of engineered systems and has become standard equipment on the world’s best selling certified General Aviation aircraft.

The increasingly congested National Airspace System will see more and more pressure from government and private agencies wanting to utilize it for UAS operations in congested areas. This could be problematic from a public policy acceptance viewpoint if errant UAS should cause property damage or human injury. BRS has designed the PASSIVE (Parachute Assisted Safety System for Internal Vehicle Emergencies) system for UAS.

The BRS on-board PASSIVE system minimizes risk to the general population by providing a proven fail-safe mechanism for recovery of an unmanned craft in the event of an unmanageable in-flight failure. In addition to public safety issues, PASSIVE will save the agency or private firm operating the UAS untold millions in damage to on-board sensors when uncontrollable failures occur.

BRS PASSIVE Systems can be deployed manually from the ground or automatically from the UAS. Safety margins can be established allowing the UAS to self-deploy PASSIVE in the event of uncommanded manoeuvres, minimum controllable airspeed, excessive vertical speed, and more. PASSIVE Systems can be fitted to UASs ranging in weight from 500 to 7,500 pounds maximum gross weight.

Source: Web Site

17-08-11, 05:24 PM

SOURCE:Flight Daily News

AUVSI: AeroVironment looks to expand into VTOL

By Danielle Lucey

Building upon its work on a DARPA program, AeroVironment said on Tuesday that it intends to release an unmanned vertical takeoff and landing system in the next three or four years.

Tom Herring, senior vice president and general manager of UAS for AeroVironment, said the only information presently available is that it will be a battery-powered quadrotor that will have a "longer duration than anything out there today."

The aircraft is currently referred to as Shrike, the name of the DARPA program that seeks a perch-and-stare-capable quadrotor that can transmit data back via a digital data link.

The DARPA program is similar to the Nano Air Vehicle, another DARPA program that AeroVironment carried though to Phase 2, the prototype stage. Matthew Keennon, AV's head on the project, says the company is still looking for either Phase 3 funding from DARPA or money from another government agency.

©2011 Billypix
Matthew Keennon: a bird in the hand

"We'll build whatever they want," says Keennon. "Currently we're trying to figure out exactly what they want."

Possible changes to the system could include improved electronics and a customized battery, since many of the features of the Hummingbird are off the shelf.

"We could actually make it better if we did some custom stuff," says Keennon. "But we were tasked with making a whole system with a somewhat limited budget."

The system currently can fly for 11 minutes, a large improvement over the initial 20-second flight in 2009, which at the time made AeroVironment ecstatic, despite its deafening din that Keennon says "sounded like an Uzi."

18-08-11, 02:02 AM

A Defense Technology Blog

Army UAVs Need to "Focus on Persistent Stare"

Posted by Paul McLeary at 8/17/2011 10:10 AM CDT

Although U.S. Army unmanned aerial systems (UAS) have logged over 1.2 million hours of combat flight time over Iraq and Afghanistan, UAS platforms can’t “do it all,” Maj. Gen. Tim Crosby, US Army PEO Aviation told a crowd at the AUVSI Unmanned Systems North America summit on Tuesday. When it comes to all of the capabilities that the service wants to see in its unmanned fleets, “we are not there yet within the UAS arena,” he said, “but give us a bit of time to finish that process. For UAS in the Army, there are so many aspects and new areas we can be focused on.”

One of the things the Army plans to focus on is persistent stare, said Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, head of the Army's Installation Command. “If we are going to use unmanned technology to improve surveillance, we need to focus on persistent stare,” he said. He added that while the coming budget cuts won’t change the Army’s mission, they will force the service “to modify our ways” by buying less, but buying more strategically.

Tim Owings, Deputy Project Manager for the Army’s UAS program, hit the same theme during a separate discussion, warning that the Army is going to have to come to grips with the fact that as it expands its UAS fleets, it will have fewer soldiers available to operate them. As a result, the service is interested in developing ground systems that will allow one soldier to operate “two, three four aircraft” simultaneously.

18-08-11, 02:23 AM
Skylark 1LE Adapts for the U.S. Military

By tamir_eshel on August 17, 2011 10:20 am

The M STAMP is the largest member of Controp's STAMP family of miniature EO payloads. It integrates two sensors - a daylight TV and uncooled FLIR, coupled with an integral laser marker. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense Update

The U.S.-Israeli UAS Dynamics joint venture has taken the Skylark 1LE mini UAV to new levels, enhancing its performance, mission capabilities and operability to new levels. According to Peter Klein, UAS Chief Engineer at the company, assessing U.S. requirements made it clear that the needs of the U.S. forces and Special Operations community were different from those set by the Israelis, which necessitated significant enhancement of the already improved version of Skylark I.

“At the AUVSI 2010 we have asked Controp, the original payload manufacturer to come up with a multi-sensor payload for the Skylark, and today we are showing the M STAMP payload on our Skylark 1LE for the first time” Klein told Defense Update. The M STAMP is the largest member of Controp’s STAMP family of miniature EO payloads. It integrates two sensors – a daylight10x zoom TV and dual Filed of view uncooled thermal imager, coupled with a integral laser pointer, all packed into a 1.2 kg payload. The new EO payload offers high resolution and high stabilization, which coupled with the air vehicles high performance, enables the enhanced Skylark 1LE to loiter at higher elevation while maintaining sufficient image resolution for the warfighter. Higher operating altitude means better coverage, communications range and reduced interference which commonly limits the use of small UAS in mountainous areas such as in Afghanistan.

As part of the preparation of the Skylark 1LE for the U.S. user UAS Dynamics introduced a U.S. datalink, compatible with U.S. military communications standards and security levels. Skylark 1LE can now transmit video directly to U.S. forces using standard video terminals (Rover). According to Klein, UAS Dynamics plans to add more processors on board is also being increased, increasing processing power to support on-board computation of automatic tracking, change detection over a wide area and complex geo-location algorithms supporting advanced networked warfighter applications.

Another improvement introduced with the U.S. model of Skylark 1LE is the use of more powerful propulsion and efficient three-blade propeller, clearing the miniature aircraft for safe hand launch. Elbit recommends the use of bungee for launching its Skylark 1LE but according to Klein, U.S. operational requirements demand hand launching as an option. On board power is also being increased with the introduction of battery and fuel cell hybrid technology, currently being evaluated by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). The system employs a Protonex hydrogen fuel cell that keeps charging the lithium ion batteries throughout the mission, extending mission endurance by 100 percent, from three to six hours with full payload and enhanced avionics. The fuel-cell Skylark 1LE configuration was displayed at AFRL at the AUVSI 2011 exhibition.

© Copyright 2011 - Defense Update

18-08-11, 02:37 AM
AUVSI: Unmanned market must not repeat satellite catastrophe

August 17, 2011

The unmanned systems industry must not repeat the lost export opportunities suffered two decades ago by satellite communications, according to Wes Bush, chairman, chief executive officer and president of Northrop Grumman.

Addressing delegates at the Unmanned Systems North America symposium on 17 August, Bush warned that export restrictions in the US were currently 'hurting' the industry.

'We saw this play out in the satellite industry just a couple of decades ago. Essentially made it impossible for US companies to sell communications satellites to our allies,' he urged.

'Somehow we thought we had a corner on that market but we were badly mistaken and this encouraged others to develop their own [unmanned systems], marketing them as ITAR free. This lost export opportunities and we are not safer as a result. We need to learn from this lesson,' Bush stressed.

Describing how US allies must also have the best equipment in the area of unmanned systems, Bush referred to his own company's cooperation in Germany for the Euro Hawk programme and described 'potential for similar collaboration' with NATO.

'There are positive signs that perhaps we will not repeat the mistake we made with satellites,' he stated.

In addition, Bush described how insurgency and military contingency operations in every corner of the world had replaced conventional threats: 'With those changes, situation awareness continues to displace boots on the ground as today's essential national security commodity.'

He also warned that problems including air-to-air refuelling and autonomous landing on 'pitching' aircraft carriers were the result of computing power and systems engineering. However, Bush was positive that they would be solved in the short term.

Finally, Bush described potential for non-military operations. 'No longer are these systems confined to military uses and today, they are already truly indispensable in the conduct of so many vital missions,' he continued while referring to counter-drug smuggling and environmental operations. 'Non-military opportunities are tremendous but are not fully exploited yet,' Bush concluded.

[I] Andrew White, Washington, DC

18-08-11, 02:56 AM
The defense industry’s great hope: Unmanned systems

By Philip Ewing Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 5:11 pm

This is not a scientific metric, but this week’s trade show of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International is a lot bigger than it used to be. Its spiral-bound, advertising-packed program is an inch thick, and has full color throughout. It has taken over much of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the heart of the nation’s capital, and, although it doesn’t rival the other big stars in the trade show constellation — AUSA, AFA or the Navy League — it reflects flush times in the unmanned world.

At AUVSI, you can almost forget the black fiscal clouds over Washington. Here, vendors are pitching ever-newer, ever more advanced unmanned systems that roll, swim and fly, whether or not the military services necessarily have a program lined up for them. But defense companies big and small are taking the risk of spending their own money to develop and build new unmanned systems because they’re confident the Pentagon will continue to buy them no matter what happens to its budget. An aircraft that doesn’t need a pilot will almost certainly be cheaper than a manned one over its lifetime. Commanders can’t get enough real-time surveillance, or combat air support orbits, or bomb disposal robots. So when the boldfaced names of the defense world have fewer opportunities with traditional sales, the unmanned game looks better than ever.

Northrop Grumman just ditched its often controversial, capital-intensive shipbuilding division and is pushing its unmanned portfolio hard: Global Hawk, Fire Scout, the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle, etc. Boeing officials boasted about their newly consolidated unmanned business headquarters in Mesa, Ariz., where they’re beginning to experiment with all manner of new fixed– and rotary-wing unmanned aircraft. A top Boeing UAS official, Rick Lemaster, described the prospect for a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon anti-submarine aircraft (also built by Boeing) to carry “Mag-Eagle” UAVs in canisters on its wings, which the Poseidon’s crew could deploy to hunt submarines with their special magnetic sensors.

Does the Navy want to buy such a thing? Is it willing to task a surface ship somewhere to recover a P-8’s swarm of mini-drones, or just let them ditch — i.e. throw them away — after each mission? No solid answers yet. Boeing also has a full-scale model of its A160 Hummingbird unmanned helicopter rigged up with gunship-style wings stacked with Hellfire-style missiles. It has flown once in this configuration, but it’s a ways away from being able to see and shoot the way you’d want it to in combat. Does the Army even want a prospective unmanned helicopter to carry this kind of firepower? Unclear.

Lockheed Martin, meanwhile, had the hottest ticket on the show floor on Wednesday with its Samurai “micro-air vehicle,” a simple UAV small enough to fit in your lunchbox. It drew big crowds when it flew in the show’s netted UAV aviary. The Samurai is a single flying wing with a tiny propeller that spins around a hub — it’s “inspired by a maple seed,” the company says — and as it twirls, it can beam back video from its stabilized camera. No one has signed up to buy such a thing, and the company admits it’s a technology demonstrator, but it shows that Lockheed believes the time, energy and cash it’s investing here will yield a big payoff at some point down the road.

So will it? It’s true that Iraq and Afghanistan have been the coming-of-age wars for unmanned systems, and their momentum still hasn’t run out — Northrop, Boeing and other companies are working on a new generation of high altitude UAVs that can loiter for weeks, to help with the ISR demand in Afghanistan. Company officials are betting that as American troops come home, there’ll be even more of a need for unmanned platforms in the war zone, so that could be an area of steady spending or even growth as the rest of the war budgets dissolve.

Wes Bush, Northrop’s CEO, was unequivocal in his keynote address on Wednesday morning: Despite the uncertainty about the overall defense budget, “I’m really excited about the coming years,” he said.

18-08-11, 03:34 AM
AUGUST 18, 2011.

China Debuts a Drone at Robotics Show


China made its debut this week at the world's largest robotics trade show when a Shenzhen-based firm showcased its F50, a small drone with a high-definition video camera that a company brochure billed as a tool for monitoring protests, or responding to building fires.

The appearance of AEE Technology Co.'s relatively small, short-range drone—about the size of a pizza pan—in the drone market underscores the burgeoning international competition in the market for unmanned aerial vehicles and military robots.

State-run and private Chinese companies have invested heavily in recent years in developing drones both for export and for China's military and domestic security needs.

Charlie Shoemaker for The Wall Street Journal
AEE Technology's F50 drone was shown at the world's largest robotics trade show in Washington on Tuesday.

Western defense officials and experts were taken by surprise in November, when at least 25 Chinese drone models were on display at an air show in south China. Several models were also shown at an exhibition of police and antiterrorism equipment in Beijing in May.

"The market for military robotics has gone global, and China is looking to be a major producer and exporter in that market, just like the U.S.," said P.W. Singer, the author of "Wired for War," a book about the revolution in military robotics.

China's investment in new military technology, including the recent launch of an aircraft carrier and the development of a stealth jet, has prompted concern in U.S. military circles. Military analysts have suggested that China is focused on capabilities that could threaten U.S. military vessels in a confrontation over Taiwan. The most recent Defense Department report to Congress on China's military capabilities notes Beijing's push to develop longer-range unmanned aircraft, including armed drones, "expands China's options for long-range reconnaissance and strike."

But AEE's information brochure—which shows an overhead image of protesters hemmed in by riot police, as well as a building on fire—suggests a similarly strong interest in domestic security.

AEE was the first Chinese company to exhibit its wares at Unmanned Systems North America, an annual exposition in Washington that features robotic hardware from around the world. In a small booth on the edge of the showroom floor, Wendy Wei, the firm's overseas sales department manager, said the company was looking to drum up international sales—and potential orders from military and police customers.

"We had a customer yesterday who wants to use it to survey ground for the mining industry," she said. "Anywhere you need someone to do detecting or you need to take videos in a place that human beings cannot go you can use it, so it's a huge market actually."

Michael O'Hanlon, a defense expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington, said China's interest in developing unmanned aircraft as a tool for policing crowds or responding to emergencies was "totally understandable, and legitimate."

Broadly speaking, Mr. O'Hanlon said China lagged behind the U.S. in conventional military power, but added that China was "quick in reacting to opportunities, particularly in the smaller weapons areas."

While China's progress on military drones is of concern to the U.S. and Israel and could worry China's neighbors, its development of drones such as AEE's F50 could also have implications for other countries that have sought to acquire drones not just for military purposes but for police surveillance and antiterrorist operations.

The U.S. currently dominates the robotics industry and has made drones a centerpiece of its military arsenal. That its drone technology far outstrips that of its rivals was underscored by other equipment on display at the show, such as the A160 Hummingbird, a full-sized robotic helicopter developed by Boeing Co., or a self-driving seven-ton truck being developed by Oshkosh Corp. unit Oshkosh Defense.

In April, a small robot made by U.S.-based iRobot Corp. was used to explore a reactor building at Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. A Global Hawk, a high-flying pilotless spyplane made by Northrop Grumman Corp., was used to survey the damage above the plant. In Libya, the U.S. military has sent armed Predator drones, made by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., to strike targets in Libya.

As competition heats up, U.S. defense executives are increasingly complaining that export controls are making it harder to compete internationally. In a keynote address at the convention Wednesday, Wes Bush, Northrop's CEO, complained that the U.S. export-control regime, which treats unmanned aircraft as extremely sensitive military hardware, made it hard to compete for global customers.

"Today's export restrictions are hurting this industry in the U.S. without making us any safer," he said. "And they could cause the U.S. to relinquish to other nations ultimately its lead in these technologies."

Mr. Bush compared the situation to earlier U.S. restrictions on the sale of communications satellites, which spurred other countries to develop their own technologies.

The Obama administration last year kicked off an effort to overhaul and streamline the system that governs the export of weapons and commercial products that have a potential for military use. The initiative was billed as a way to boost the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing and technology sectors.

Kenneth Juergens, a vice president for Oshkosh Defense, said export restrictions made it more difficult to do business internationally, even as U.S. companies look to markets abroad to offset declining U.S. defense budgets. "We need help to get some of those barriers moved or at least streamlined so the approval process moves faster," he said.

U.S. export controls on things like drones are also a subject of frustration for long-standing customers of U.S. military hardware. Yousef Al Otaiba, the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the U.S., said that unmanned aircraft were a "very, very tightly controlled technology" that was pushing countries to develop their own domestic technology.

Meanwhile, other countries are stepping in with their own, increasingly sophisticated pilotless aircraft.

Ismail Ates, chief of market development for Turkish Aerospace Industries, Inc., said his company was developing its own long-endurance drone that compared in size and payload to the U.S. Predator, called the Anka.

"Of course we have export control regimes in Turkey as well for such military products, and we are a NATO member," he said. "But things move faster than in the States."

18-08-11, 05:23 AM
Defense Ministry plans its version of Global Hawk aircraft



The unmanned reconnaissance aircraft Global Hawk used to gather information after the Great East Japan Earthquake (Provided by Northrop Grumman Corp.)

The Defense Ministry, acting at the behest of Prime Minister Naoto Kan, is set to begin a study into the development of an unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, sources said.

Kan gave instructions to proceed after high altitude unmanned reconnaissance Global Hawk aircraft used by the U.S. military proved effective in gathering information about conditions at the quake-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant following the March 11 disaster.

Funds will be earmarked for this project in either the third supplementary budget or the budget for fiscal 2012. The amount will greatly exceed the allocation in the current fiscal year budget.

The Defense Ministry has tried to develop small unmanned aircraft in the past.

Between fiscal 2004 and 2010, about 10 billion yen ($128 million) was spent on developing a multipurpose, small unmanned jet. Although four prototypes were constructed, two were lost after crashing into the ocean due to engine trouble during test flights.

The failure to produce a viable aircraft led to a sharp reduction in study expenses for such development in the current fiscal year. Just 1 million yen was allocated for this purpose.

The decision to greatly increase the study expenses will also cover the cost of research and development of robot technology.

While Defense Ministry officials will initially focus on developing a reconnaissance aircraft that can be used by Self-Defense Forces members when they are dispatched to assist in disaster relief operations, there is a possibility that subsequent development could focus on converting the technology for military use.

Kan gave the instructions to develop an unmanned vehicle at a July 1 luncheon at the Prime Minister's Official Residence.

Among the participants were Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa and Gen. Eiji Kimizuka, who at that time was head of the Northeastern Army and in charge of SDF disaster relief operations in the Tohoku region following the Great East Japan Earthquake. Kimizuka is now GSDF chief of staff.

Pointing to the contributions of the Global Hawk, Kan said, "Japan has advanced technology in robotics and radio-controlled equipment. I want the Defense Ministry to develop Japan's own unmanned vehicle."

In dealing with the Fukushima nuclear accident, consideration had been given at one time to using an unmanned helicopter used by the GSDF to observe what was occurring by remote control. However, the idea was never implemented because as one high-ranking Defense Ministry official put it, "It was not at a level of practical use so we could not make a decision to use it in circumstances that did not allow for any error."

The U.S. military received a request from the Japanese government and dispatched a Global Hawk from Andersen Air Force Base on Guam. The vehicle was used for reconnaissance flights over the disaster-stricken areas of the Tohoku region as well as the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Video images taken by a camera on board were passed to Japan.

Analysis of the images provided confirmation that the storage pool for spent nuclear fuel in the No. 4 reactor at the plant was empty of water. That and other information was relayed to Japanese officials.

18-08-11, 01:14 PM
Northrop Grumman Fire Scout completes at-sea deployment

August 18, 2011

The Northrop Grumman Corporation-built MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff Unmanned Aerial Vehicle was credited with providing critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) support to special operations forces and US Navy anti-piracy actions during the system's second at-sea deployment.

Two Fire Scout air vehicles were deployed aboard the USS Halyburton (FFG 40) at the beginning of January. The system was tasked to provide ISR support for anti-piracy operations conducted by the Navy's 5th Fleet.

"This deployment was the first opportunity since deploying on the USS McInerney (FFG 8) for the Navy to fully use Fire Scout operationally," said George Vardoulakis, vice president for tactical unmanned systems for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. "The system was involved in three different anti-piracy actions; participated in operations over Libya; and supported a Strait of Hormuz transit with the ship's SH-60B helicopter - a valuable manned and unmanned aircraft operation that allows ship commanders to extend their awareness at greater distances from the ship."

Fire Scout also successfully proved a special operations concept for sea-based ISR capabilities and observed a Yemeni fishing boat that had been stranded at sea for 10 days, allowing the Halyburton's crew to provide assistance.

In the six-month deployment, the system flew for more than 435 hours and maintained a high sortie completion rate of more than 80 percent.

Fire Scout operations aboard the Halyburton benefited significantly from lessons learned during a 2009 Fire Scout military utility assessment aboard the McInerney.

To date, the system has flown for more than 2,500 hours. Approximately 1,200 of those hours were accrued during operational deployments with the Halyburton and in Afghanistan.

Fire Scout features a modular architecture that accommodates a variety of electro-optical, infrared and communications payloads. The air vehicle's operational flexibility makes it particularly well suited for supporting littoral missions such as drug interdiction, search and rescue, reconnaissance and port security.

Source: Northrop Grumman

18-08-11, 03:22 PM
Raytheon Demonstrates Ground Control System to U.K. MOD for Scavenger UAV

(Source: Raytheon Company; issued August 17, 2011)

WASHINGTON --- Raytheon Company recently demonstrated its Common Ground Control System (CGCS) technology to representatives from the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence. The demonstration showed an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) control station in a scenario representative of a Scavenger UAV mission, including simultaneous control of multiple dissimilar vehicles, sensor command and control, and connectivity to external systems, among other capabilities. Scavenger is a joint U.K. and French program operating under the Defence and Security Cooperation Treaty, which seeks to develop the next-generation medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

"Using Raytheon's CGCS, the U.K. and French governments would not be bound to a single prime or vendor, because the low level interfaces are all open with a software development kit provided for all development and integration needs central to the UAS core framework," said Mark Bigham, vice president of business development for Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems' Defense and Civil Mission Solutions product line. "Open architectures provide government with the greatest ability to acquire the system capability and operational effectiveness it needs while reducing acquisition and sustainment costs."

In July, Raytheon received International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) approval from the U.S. State Department to demonstrate its CGCS to U.K. and French governments. The company is currently evaluating partnering opportunities as a common ground segment provider for Scavenger and related programs.

Raytheon's common systems share or reuse software or hardware components, using open, modular and separable architectures and interfaces that give the user control over the level of commonality required. The CGCS architecture provides the flexibility to scale the ground station from headquarters cockpit workstations all the way down to handheld phone-size controllers, depending on the application. The CGCS architecture also allows UAS management functions to be distributed across the total enterprise, which has the potential of significantly reducing the manpower footprint.

Raytheon Company, with 2010 sales of $25 billion, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, homeland security and other government markets throughout the world. With headquarters in Waltham, Mass., Raytheon employs 72,000 people worldwide.


19-08-11, 02:49 AM

A Defense Technology Blog

High Flyers

Posted by Bill Sweetman at 8/18/2011 9:48 AM CDT

Three long-endurance UAV programs are reporting progress at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International show in Washington DC this week.

Boeing's Phantom Eye is making progress towards its first test flights at Edwards AFB, company officials say, with pre-installation tests now under way on its second engine-propeller package. As noted yesterday, too, AeroVironment is optimistic that the investigation unto the April 1 loss of the first Global Observer will clear the way to restarting work on the second aircraft.

Aurora Flight Sciences' Orion medium-altitude long-endurance UAV has also restarted. The problem was not technical, according to CEO John Langford, but fiscal - the Joint Capability Technology Demonstration funding was caught up in FY11's confused and delayed budget cycle and not released until a matter of weeks ago, so the aircraft had made little progress following its rollout last November. The company plans to fly in 2012, but is not being any more specific than that.

Another important move is that the responsibility for the Orion JCTD has been taken from the Air Force Research Laboratory and transferred to the USAF's Big Safari program office, which specializes in rapid programs to meet high-priority operational needs. That's seen by Aurora as a very positive move, indicating more urgency on the part of the CENTCOM customer.

Orion, company leaders say, will be complementary to Reaper. The diesel-powered Orion is more efficient at low altitude and its payload capability means that it can carry large wide-area airborne surveillance sensors on a long-endurance mission. Orion planners are looking closely at BAE Systems Argus-IS WAAS, which they see as a step beyond the Sierra Nevada Gorgon Stare now being integrated on Reaper.

More details have also emerged of the payload planned for Global Observer. At the time of the accident, the aircraft was flying with a Joint Aerial Layered Network Tactical Communications System provided by Ultra Electronics' Advanced Tactical Systems unit in Austin, Texas.

Ultra engineers characterize JALN-TCS as providing the same kind of capability as the Northrop Grumman Battlefield Airborne Communications Network (BACN) - that is, enabling communications between completely different radio systems on the ground and in the air - but in a much smaller package that does not require modifications to the carrier aircraft. A pod-mounted version -- comprising two 120-pound pods -- is due to fly on a Reaper at China Lake in November.

19-08-11, 02:51 AM

A Defense Technology Blog

Combat UAS With Lots of Ammo Needed to Battle Enemy Unmanned Aircraft

Posted by David A. Fulghum at 8/18/2011 8:00 AM CDT

There are few ways to defend against unmanned aerial systems (UASs) carrying either conventional, electronic or cyber weapons.

The U.S. has spent very little time and effort on the mission of locating, tracking and disabling the threat of enemy UASs. The Israeli Air Force shot down a Hezbollah unmanned aircraft in 2006 and a few test range kills of UASs have been conducted in the U.S. Meanwhile, the problem of threatening UAVs is expected to get far worse as potential foes field unmanned aircraft with cruise missile speeds of 400 kts. or more in the next decade.

“I don’t think that anyone would argue that global UAS proliferation is in full gear,” says Navy Capt. Greg Maguire, concept division chief for the Joint UAS Center of Excellence at Creech AFB, Nev. He led a discussion of countering UAS at the AUVSI’s 2011 Unmanned Systems conference here “They are flying them all over, and where they show up next could be anywhere.”

In fact, such a kinetic weapon-equipped UAS flew in Law Vegas, just a few tens of miles southeast of Creech this summer. A security consultant and a security engineer bought a used unmanned aircraft online, filled it with off the shelf electronics and programmed it as an airborne communications network attack machine for less than $10,000. The pair built their prop-driven, Wireless Aerial Surveillance Platform (WASP) and demonstrated that airborne cyber attack – an increasingly common form of terrorism or crime – can be cheap, commercially available and homemade.

The lightweight, six-foot-long aircraft can steal digital content from mobile phones and the internet while in flight. Targets have included Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GSM cellular networks and other unsecured wireless networks functioning in public places and free internet focal points. It also can operate as a cell tower or false telephone network to intercept calls or find and track people with mobile phones. Wasp seems to reflect new skills and techniques being developed by criminals and hackers.

“The techniques described for GSM access are well known,” says a senior cyber industry official and former, government cyber warrior. “These can work if there are issues with security settings, but that is not the norm. I think [WASP] is an interesting demonstration but it’s not highlighting anything that isn’t already well known in the industry.”

What would be more threatening is a wireless capability that could reach into Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) networks that control automated processes for oil, gas and water utility systems and specialized factories including nuclear facilities.

“Many SCADA systems are not connected to outside networks like the Internet,” the industry official says. “Access to the actual control systems is not that easy. [However, some] do use commercial wireless devices for connectivity -- wifi, Bluetooth and others unique to their industry -- which are vulnerable. Most SCADA users are aware of the vulnerabilities -- especially since all the press on STUXNET [cyber-virus worm attack that infected 100,000 computers in Iran] -- and are working on ways to better protect themselves.”

Unmanned aircraft can deliver cyberattacks, but they are also vulnerable to them and to anti-electronics technology such as pulses of high power microwaves and some types of lasers. Moreover, the networks that control UASs are vulnerable to exploitation by data beams filled with malicious algorithms designed to mine intelligence or allow someone unauthorized to take over as system administrator.

“We need to worry about cyberoperations and hardening systems against cyberattack,” Maguire says. Moreover, “Anything you can do from the air” against ground networks (for example the Air Force’s airborne Suter program’s network invasion of integrated air defenses) “you can do against ground targets.”

A potential solution to these unmanned invaders is to field manned or unmanned aircraft that can locate, identify and disable enemy UASs. The counter-UAV battle will most likely result from detection by an off-board sensor, probably operated by troops on the ground, and they will have to contact the UAS to vector it into the attack.

“When you think about the capabilities required for counter UAS, it’s going to [depend primarily] on a UASs own organic air-to-air radar that can find and target those forces,” Maguire says. “The future is unmanned vs. unmanned aircraft” and that involves a networked kill chain that will allow the identification of enemy UASs from the cloud of unknown targets that are sure to crowd future aerial battlefields.

“UASs and counter-UASs push our imagination to some important areas,” says Dan Moore, Raytheon Missile Systems’ director of ground based defense. “We need to go there. We need to find ways for industry and government to evolve our understanding through low cost demonstrations, modeling and simulation. That’s where we can get generations of thinking ahead.”

Directed energy may address the issue of how to carry enough munitions to counter large numbers of enemy UAVs. The answer may involve electronic attack since energy weapons could have large virtual magazines to provide an endless supply of electronic bullets.

“If you shoot missiles, it costs $100,000s to shoot at a UAV that may cost $50,000,” Maguire says. “Electronic attack may be the primary direction to go whether its high power jammers or high power microwave systems or GPS jammers depending on how the technologies mature.”

19-08-11, 03:01 AM
After Libya Shootdown, U.S. Robo-Copter Will Weaponize

By Noah Shachtman August 18, 2011 | 7:00 am

Uploaded by northropgrummanmedia on Aug 11, 2011
The MQ-8B Fire Scout conducting flights during deployment to Afghanistan.

America’s only combat casualty in Libya had no way of defending itself, when it was taken out by a heavy anti-aircraft weapon in late June. But that’s about to change. After spending the last few months chasing pirates in the Indian Ocean, watching over troops in Afghanistan, and flying into a pro-regime stronghold in Libya, the U.S. Navy’s Fire Scout robotic helicopter is poised to start test-firing rockets. By the end of next year, the drone should be fully weaponized, and ready to shoot back if it gets attacked.

It’s another step forward for the Fire Scout, the once star-crossed robo-copter that’s quickly becoming a favorite tool of the Navy, despite years of uneven history and despite a recent Pentagon test report which said the drone was missing its missions as often as it was completing them.

On June 21st, the U.S.S. Halyburton dispatched one of its two Fire Scouts to a known stronghold of forces loyal to Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The unmanned helo flew over the hostile zone, snapping video as it went and beaming the footage back to the ship. The Fire Scouts had flown as many as 15 such missions over Libya before. But this one was different. This time, the video suddenly stopped. The robo-copter’s wreckage was quickly paraded on Al Jazeera.

An inquiry later concluded that the whirly-bot had been shot down. Today, Rear Admiral Bill Shannon, the Navy officer in charge of unmanned aviation, added a bit more detail, noting that a heavy anti-aircraft weapon brought the 2,000-pound ‘bot out of the sky.

“This was not small-arms fire. There were large weapons in the area,” he told reporters at the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International conference in Washington. “Looking at the intel, there wasn’t anything we would’ve put in there that wouldn’t have been at high risk.”

That ended the most dangerous mission so far for the Fire Scout fleet. But it’s not the only combat patrol the robotic rotocraft has conducted, of late. In Afghanistan, three Fire Scouts flew 950 hours out of a remote base in Kunduz province over the last seven months. Lately, they’ve spent more time in the air, logging north of 400 hours per month, while a team of 20 Northrop Grumman contractors and seven sailors fly and maintain the vehicles.

It’s a big crew, especially at a relatively small forward operating base. And the Fire Scout only flies for five hours at a time — peanuts compared to the near day-long missions of the Reaper robotic plane. But, unlike the Reaper, the Fire Scout doesn’t need a big runway to take off or land. Which makes it more attractive to commanders at somewhat remote outposts.

Or on ships. Another pair of Fire Scouts, on board the Halyburton, saw action from the Indian Ocean to the Straits of Hormuz to the southern Mediterranean. The copters tracked suspected pirates, and watched over a Yemeni fishing boat that had been stranded at sea for 10 days, until the Halyburton’s crew could come over to help. All in all, the drones ran 126 missions and flew for 436 hours.

Exactly how many of those missions were productive is a matter of some dispute. According to a damning report from the Defense Department’s director of operational test and evaluation, the Fire Scouts only managed to complete half of their missions while on the Halyburton, and came up short in all 10 of their trial runs at home before the copters were shipped off to Afghanistan. In one particularly unnerving incident, the drone’s remote pilot accidentally started the self-destruct countdown counter with a single keystroke.

Shannon said that incident — and the whole report — were overblown. The drone was never in danger of committing hari-kiri. Yes, the Fire Scout still has issues with the data links between the copter and its operators. But the report’s standard for success and failure is all wrong. A relatively minor screwup could lead to the mission being classified as a complete flop.

“If I’m out on a five-hour mission, and on the return home, there’s a 10-minute drop-out in the video — to call that an incomplete mission, that defies common sense,” he added.

Shannon’s confident enough in the copters that the Navy has asked Congress for the money to nearly double its order of Fire Scouts, to 57. The Navy could provide an additional 28 upgraded Fire Scouts to Special Operations Command over the next three years. And in the next few weeks, the Fire Scout — first envisioned as an armed drone, back in the late 90s — is going to start firing weapons again. The first tests will be with the laser-guided Griffin missile, which carries at 13-pound warhead. Trials with the 2.75-inch rockets of the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System are expected to follow. 18 months from now, if all goes according to plan, the Fire Scout will be once again on combat missions — this time, fully armed.

19-08-11, 03:07 AM
K-MAX Unmanned Cargo Lifting Helo Makes Early Inroads

Aug 18, 2011 20:00 EDT

Loaded to the K-MAX

With its 5,145 lb empty weight (2.3 metric tons), the K-MAX UAS cannot quite convey the same sense of graceful lightness as its Hummingbird Boeing competitor, coming at slightly less than half the weight.

Belonging to a different weight class shifts the Lockheed Martin/Kaman helo to a different mission focus, with a clear emphasis on battlefield cargo resupply. K-MAX has a useful load of 6,855 lb (3.1 tons) vs. 2,500 pounds for the Hummingbird. Up to 6,000 lb (at sea level) can be attached to the cargo hook which is attached to a curved trolley system. Payload at 10,000 ft is still rated above 5,000 lb.

The first K-MAX UAS sale was a $47M contract for 2 units picked by the USMC to run tests in parallel with the Hummingbird. Since then the UAS has completed its E3 tests and is currently undergoing a Quick-reaction assessment (QRA) evaluation at Yuma Proving Ground, AZ, where K-MAX was already tested at the end of 2009. If QRA results are satisfactory, the Marines intend to start operation use in the months to come.

Uploaded by LockheedMartinVideos on Apr 12, 2011
No roads, no worries! The rugged K-MAX® multi-mission helicopter that Lockheed Martin and Kaman Aerospace have transformed into an Unmanned Aerial Truck proves why it is the best for unmanned battlefield cargo resupply missions.

The 2nd win came on July 16/11: The US Army Contracting Command, Fort Eustis, VA, awarded Lockheed Martin a $47M contract to develop, demonstrate and deliver autonomous technologies for unmanned air systems in support of in-theater unmanned cargo resupply missions.

Work will be performed in Owego, N.Y., with an estimated completion date of June 29, 2016. One bid was solicited, with one bid received. (W911W6-11-D-0008).

FY12 and Beyond: Possible Joint Navy/Army Effort; $1 billion Competition

In June 2011 AviationWeek reported that the US Army and Navy are considering merging their VTOL UAV programs. An Navy-led RFI released on June 27 intends to support both the Army development of the MRMP acquisition strategy and to inform the collaborative Army and Navy Medium Range Maritime UAS (MRMUAS) Analysis of Alternatives (AoA). Of note among PM UAS’ requirements: compatibility with U.S Army Universal Ground Control Station (UGCS). The RFI was due on August 10. Tim Owings, deputy program manager for Army UAVs, told Bloomberg that 8 companies responded. The program is set to involve a $1B budget for 100+ unmanned helicopters.

In an earlier statement, Owings said the Army was proposing an acquisition strategy that in effect is similar to the one currently at play under the NAVAIR order for the Marines: a fast evaluation process involving 2 platforms in FY12, deployment of these platforms in FY13, ultimately followed by a program of record down-selecting on 1 platform by FY14.

In 2004 and 2010, the GAO repeatedly complained about effort duplication risks and lack of coordination between the branches, especially between the Air Force and Army.

19-08-11, 03:17 AM
Defense Update have published a very good pics report from the AUVSI show, see Part 1 here...............Part 2 is linked at the bottom...........interesting to see the weaponised items.

AUVSI 2011 Photo Report – First Impressions

By tamir_eshel on August 18, 2011 10:10 am



19-08-11, 03:32 AM

SOURCE:Flight Daily News

AUVSI: Canada withdraws from NATO RQ-4 program

By Stephen Trimble

Canada has become the second country to withdraw from the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 alliance ground surveillance (AGS) program, but the remaining NATO partners are "very close" to signing a contract, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

The decision means AGS will lose another source of funding that must be compensated for by the 13 NATO members still committed.

In June, Canadian TV broadcaster CBC reported that Canada also is withdrawing from the NATO partnership operating the E-3 airborne warning and control system (AWACS).

© Northrop Grumman

The AGS program had lost another key partner last June. Denmark also decided to withdraw from the partnership acquiring a six-aircraft RQ-4 fleet in June 2010.

Meanwhile, Northrop and NATO officials are likely to sign a contract to launch the development phase of the AGS programme within several days. The contract award may still have to be approved by each of the national partners before it becomes official.

Previously, Northrop officials had predicted that the long-awaited contract award milestone might not be reached around October.

Northrop is offering to deliver six RQ-4 air vehicles configured with the US Air Force's Block 40 equipment, which includes a wide area surveillance sensor called the Northrop/Raytheon multi-platform radar technology insertion program. It will perform the same role as the USAF E-8C joint surveillance target attack radar system.

European partners, including EADS, will supply mobile ground control stations for the NATO RQ-4 fleet, which will be based at Sigonella AB, Sicily.

19-08-11, 03:36 AM

SOURCE:Flight Daily News

AUVSI: BAMS gets signals intelligence by FY2019

By Zach Rosenberg

The Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) will pick up a signals intelligence (sigint) payload and communications relay (comms) payload in addition to its maritime roles.

With the announcement, the Navy has cleared up some of the uncertainty that arose after announcing the retirement of the EP-3 Aries. Though the Navy announced it would replace EP-3's capabilities with a family of systems, it announced no schedule.

Increment 3 of BAMS aircraft, scheduled to reach service in FY2019, will include a sigint payload. The payload is not meant to fully replace the EP-3, and Navy program manager Captain Jim Hoke said there are ongoing discussions over what capabilities it will possess.

The comms payload will be contained in Increment 2, scheduled to enter service in FY2021. The payload is being designed with relaying data from another BAMS aircraft in the absence of satellite or line-of-sight communications.

Two BAMS aircraft are on the production line. Wiring and hydraulics are being installed in SDD-1, as the first production aircraft is known, at Northrop Grumman's assembly plant in Palmdale, California. Wings are on schedule for delivery in October, with assembly to be completed by December. The second aircraft, SDD-2 will be completed in March or April 2012.

NAS Jacksonville, in the northeast corner of Florida, has been selected as the East Coast base of choice for BAMS and main site for remote piloting. NAS Whidbey Island, in Washington state, is in the running as an additional West Coast base.

19-08-11, 03:39 AM

SOURCE:Flight Daily News

AUVSI: Army cautiously advances stateside ground-based see and avoid

By John Croft

The US Army is preparing to use a prototype ground-based sense-and-avoid (GBSAA) system to allow UAS operators to fly vehicles in civilian airspace corridors between military training areas.

The work follows success the Army has achieved using GBSAA for day and night General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagle traffic pattern operations at its El Mirage test site in California.

While the military handles its own UAS certification and pilot/operator training functions, it must comply with US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airspace regulations, the most onerous being an onboard "see and avoid" capability. To date, that has meant obtaining a certificate of authorization (COA) from the FAA for training or humanitarian flights that need to take place outside of a limited number of restricted airspace zones around the country. Flights in civilian airspace must also be in daytime only and have a manned aircraft in trail to provide airborne sense and avoid functions normally carried out by a pilot.

© General Atomics Aeronautical Systems
US Army General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagle

At El Mirage however, the Army is having success in using a GBSAA that will allow for day and night UAS traffic pattern training operations.

Viva Austin, head of airspace integration concepts for the US Army's UAS project office, said the next logical step in expanding that capability will be to connect El Mirage with restricted airspace at Edwards Air Force base through a corridor or FAA-controlled airspace. Tests, which will use the same multiple ground radar-based intruder alert system and special software and protection procedures for UAS operators, are set to begin early in 2012, Austin says.

The Army had originally considered GBSAA as a "gap filler" for smaller aircraft until airborne sense and avoid technology arrived, but "as we went along, we realized GBSAA was not going away," said Austin. "We're finding quickly that using [onboard] see and avoid sensors is harder and harder to do."

She adds that a request for information is about to be released by the military to get industry's help in solving the hurdles with airborne-based sense and avoid systems.

19-08-11, 03:40 AM

SOURCE:Flight Daily News

AUVSI: US Army takes interest in armed UAS software

By Stephen Trimble

The US Army has showed interest in a technology sponsored by the air force to adapt armed unmanned air systems (UAS) for the close air support role, according to a Raytheon manager.

The army's interest in the precision close air support (PCAS) technology comes as the USAF has delayed and reevaluated the MQ-X program, a proposed replacement for the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc.'s MQ-1 and MQ-9 fleets.

It was the MQ-X program office that sponsored the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to launch the PCAS program last year, with the goal to adapt a Fairchild Republic A-10C into an optionally piloted vehicle and perform a simulated close air support mission.

The demonstration gained headlines for involving the A-10C, but the technology is intended to be applied for the military's armed UAS fleet.

Raytheon has been in contact with capability managers at the army's Training and Doctrine Command, Bossert said, adding that "they see applicability."

The PCAS system is being designed to give a controller on the ground enough information to have the authority to assume control of a weapon on a flying UAS, and launch that weapon at a target in close proximity to friendly troops.

19-08-11, 03:49 AM

SOURCE:Flight Daily News

AUVSI: AAI reveals 75lb Aerosonde

By Stephen Trimble

AAI has quietly revealed a 75lb version of the Mk 4.7 Aerosonde UAS.

The re-winged vehicle is more than twice the size of the 37lb model, and offers 15lb payload capacity and more than 15h endurance, AAI said.

The company previously discussed offering a roughly 55lb version of the aircraft to the US Navy last year, but had actually submitted the 75lb-sized aircraft, AAI said.

The larger vehicle will be offered for the US Special Operations Command's mid-endurance UAS program and the navy's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance services contract, AAI said.

19-08-11, 03:53 AM

SOURCE:Flight Daily News

AUVSI: Saab's Skeldar hits the market

By Brett Davis

After about seven years of development, Saab says its Skeldar V-200 unmanned helicopter is ready for the market in both maritime and land-based flavors.

Saab has identified a potential early user: The US Navy is seeking intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance services from a variety of sources, including aircraft based on Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. Saab has bid Skeldar for that work as part of a team with California-based Computer Sciences.

The Swedish company has recently completed ship-based flight trials with the maritime variant of the aircraft, the V-200M. It is continuing to expand Skeldar's flight and performance envelope in land-based testing, but company officials say the product is ready for the market.

© Billypix

"It took some time, but we have a production-ready version of the system now," said Johan Hansson, Saab's director of business development. "It's a very exciting time because we've seen more opportunities than we were hoping for, in many different areas."

Skeldar sports a heavy-fuel engine option and the maritime version can operate on a ship without using a landing harpoon up to sea state 4, Hansson said.

"We see a growing number of opportunities on the naval side," he said. "That seems where it makes very much sense, for obvious reasons, to use a VTOL system."

In addition to bidding for the Navy's ISR contract, Saab plans to ship a Skeldar to North America later this year and to conduct demonstrations for potential customers, in the United States and Canada, including the Department of Homeland Security, the US Coast Guard, Resources Canada and various law-enforcement organizations

19-08-11, 10:47 AM
Autonomous ScanEagle, Procerus Unicorn communicate over search area

(8:50 a.m. ET update corrects MAHN reference in 2nd paragraph) WASHINGTON, Aug. 18, 2011 -- Boeing [NYSE: BA] today announced the successful autonomous communications and operation of dissimilar unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in flight tests over the rugged terrain of eastern Oregon.

The July 7-10 mission used two ScanEagles manufactured by Boeing subsidiary Insitu and one Procerus Unicorn from The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL). The UAVs communicated using a Mobile Ad Hoc Network and swarm technology developed by JHU/APL.

Swarm technology is similar to how insects communicate and perform tasks as an intelligent group. The UAVs worked together to search the test area through self-generating waypoints and terrain mapping, while simultaneously sending information to teams on the ground. A broader demonstration is planned for the end of September.

"This is a milestone in UAV flight," said Gabriel Santander, Boeing Advanced Autonomous Networks program director and team leader. "The test team proved that these unmanned aircraft can collect and use data while communicating with each other to support a unified mission. This swarm technology may one day be used for search-and-rescue missions or identifying enemy threats ahead of ground patrols."

"The decentralized autonomous vehicles we demonstrated show the potential for improved response time and reduced manning requirements when compared with current systems," said Dave Scheidt, JHU/APL principal investigator. "We're excited we were able to demonstrate this capability on deployed vehicles such as the Boeing ScanEagles."

The ScanEagle system also recently took part in the successful test of a Boeing-developed narrowband communications relay that was used to link handheld radios in the mountains of California.

The swarm technology demonstrations are being conducted under a collaborative agreement between Boeing and JHU/APL, which is a University Affiliated Research Center and a division of Johns Hopkins University that has for nearly 70 years been addressing critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. It maintains a staff of about 5,000 on its Laurel, Md., campus.

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world's largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $32 billion business with 64,000 employees worldwide. Follow us on Twitter: @BoeingDefense.

19-08-11, 10:59 AM

SOURCE:Flight International

Unmanned systems star at Taiwanese defence show

By Greg Waldron

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) were a major element of this year's Taipei Aerospace & Defense Technology Exhibition.

Taiwan's Ministry of National Defence, which occupied roughly one third of the available show space, displayed several unmanned systems.

One of the more innovative designs featured a swept wing in the centre of the fuselage and a thicker, forward-swept wing from the end of the fuselage, with both wings joined at the tips.

The system has been in development since last year, and will have its first flight in November.

The as-yet-unnamed aircraft will be able to operate autonomously and have a 4h endurance.

Its primary role will be the monitoring of air quality, but it will also be capable of carrying a ground surveillance payload.

© Greg Waldron/Flightglobal
Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) were a major element of this year's Taipei Aerospace & Defense Technology Exhibition.

Elsewhere in the ministry's pavilion, the Chun-Shan Institute of Science and Technology showed a model of an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) that closely resembled developmental types such as the Boeing X-45 and Northrop Grumman X-47B.

The institute said the delta-winged design could be ready within 10 years.

© Commercial Aviation on flightglobal.com/AirSpace

In an animated video at the show, an air vehicle resembling the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Predator provided guidance for a delta-winged UCAV to destroy a Chinese Sukhoi Su-27 fighter with a missile.

Taiwanese UCAVs also were depicted striking land targets on the Chinese mainland.

In the section of the hall reserved for private firms, local company Carbon Based Technology (CBT) displayed two systems under its Uaver brand.

Intended mainly for ground observation tasks, the company's Avian system can be carried in a large backpack and launched by hand or catapult.

Weighing 3.45kg (7.6lb), it is powered by two electrical motors in the wings and has an endurance of 90min. The Avian can be controlled by a single operator using a conventional netbook computer and a ground station.

CBT is also developing a larger UAV, the Accipiter. This has a maximum take-off weight of 20kg and an endurance of 6h.

The Accipiter recently completed its first flight, and is targeted at surveillance, fire fighting, rescue services and pollution monitoring missions.

Accipiter is operated from a van with two operator stations. At present, one van unit can operate only one air vehicle at a time, although CBT plans to increase this to support the use of up to four simultaneously.

19-08-11, 02:11 PM
DARPA, U.S. Army and Rockwell Collins Release Video of Successful Damage Tolerance Control Testing on Shadow Unmanned Aircraft System

(Source: Rockwell Collins; issued Aug. 18, 2011)

WASHINGTON --- Last fall, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the U.S. Army and Rockwell Collins demonstrated Damage Tolerance Control (DTC) on the RQ-7B Shadow Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), marking the first time that the technology has been tested on a fielded platform. Video of that historic flight test was viewed for the first time during a Rockwell Collins media briefing at AUVSI Unmanned Systems North America 2011.

Flight testing took place over several weeks at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. The testing verified performance of DTC to determine the limits of damage aircraft can handle, provided the Army with an understanding of DTC’s operational benefits to the Shadow UAS mission and generated awareness of overall progress in adaptive controls technology to encourage continued advancement in operational applications.

“These tests mark an important milestone for DARPA, the Army and Rockwell Collins as we take DTC to the next level of performance on fielded UAS platforms,” said Dave Vos, senior director of Rockwell Collins Control Technologies and Unmanned Aircraft Systems. “We are now approaching the point where UAVs and manned aircraft can coexist because we can instantly and automatically compensate for failure or damage in flight.”

The tests included ejecting 20 inches of the Shadow’s wing during flight. Despite the damage sustained by the Shadow, it remained steady in-flight and landed successfully.

These flights also included the first-ever automatic rolling take-off for Shadow, as well as GPS-based automatic landing. Other maneuvers demonstrating failure and immediate automatic recovery through DTC that were conducted during the flight tests include:
--Locking the right aileron in neutral position in-line with the rest of the airplane
--Locking the right aileron in a full-up position, which caused an uncontrolled roll
--Engine idle test - engine command is idle, which means there is no throttle up or down
--The right elerudder locked at neutral
--Engine killed during flight to zero RPMs

All these flights ended with the damaged aircraft performing a successful automatic landing.

Damage tolerance is an enabling capability for increasing the mission reliability of UAVs operating in hazardous and high-threat environments. The technology provides for real-time autonomous accommodation of damage, followed by an adaptation process that alters the flight control system to compensate for the effects of the damage. During the flight tests, Rockwell Collins demonstrated a capability that could be applicable to all military aircraft operating in combat environments and to commercial, business and general aviation aircraft for full flight automation and backup.

Rockwell Collins is a pioneer in the development and deployment of innovative communication and aviation electronic solutions for both commercial and government applications. Our expertise in flight deck avionics, cabin electronics, mission communications, information management, and simulation and training is delivered by 20,000 employees, and a global service and support network that crosses 27 countries.


20-08-11, 03:18 AM

A Defense Technology Blog

UAV's That Can Top off Their Tanks Locally

Posted by Paul McLeary at 8/19/2011 11:31 AM CDT

Special operators in remote locations will soon have the ability to refuel one of their hand-launched unmanned aerial systems (UAS) simply by visiting a local market.

Lockheed Martin’s Stalker eXtreme Endurance (XE) UAS—the recently released upgrade to the Stalker which has been in use since 2006—was developed to use a propane fuel cell with a small, conventional lithium polymer battery.

The long-endurance fuel cell upgrades the flight time for the bird from about two hours to about eight, says the company’s Thomas Koonce, program manager for special programs. Koonce told Aviation Week at the Unmanned Vehicle Systems International show on Thursday that the company completed testing of the upgraded, 13-lb UAS in May, and the day of the final demonstration received orders from several “U.S. customers”—though he declined to say who. (Given the system’s history with the Special Forces, one can guess….) During demonstrations, the UAS was able to perform repeated long-endurance missions with only 30 minute breaks in between, flying in high winds and at altitudes that reached 16,000ft, Koonce said, adding that the vehicle proved that it could keep up this hectic pace even when repeatedly landing in rocky, and otherwise inhospitable terrain.

Even with the increased endurance, Koonce said, Lockheed engineers were able to slightly decrease the weight of the UAS on the new XE model. The fuel cell technology was developed through a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency effort that was led by Lockheed Martin and Adaptive Materials Incorporated. The use of propane fuel cells appears to be catching on -- this summer, the Army sent a propane-based fuel cell to Afghanistan for field testing in hopes that soldiers will be able to rely on local markets for their fuel needs.

Pic: Lockheed Martin

20-08-11, 03:32 AM
Saab unveils Skeldar-200 at AUVSI in Anticipation for U.S. Navy ISR Program

By tamir_eshel on August 19, 2011 12:33 pm

Saab displayed two of its Skeldar VTUAVs at the AUVSI 2011 exhibition The Skeldar 200 is on the right, the smaller 100 model is on the left. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense Update

In anticipation for the U.S. requirement for ISR services in support of combat surface ships, Saab North America has teamed with Computer Sciences to offer a larger version of the Skeldar rotary wing UAV called Skeldar 200, displayed for the first time at the AUVSI convention in Washington DC this week. Saab has recently completed ship-based flight trials with the maritime variant of the aircraft, the V-200M. According to Saab, among the naval related features of the Skeldr are its heavy-fuel engine, automatic landing on the ship without using a landing harpoon, clearing operations up to sea state 4.

According to the Navy’s request for proposal, the Navy plans to equip up to seven DDG-51 (Arleigh Burke) class destroyers with up to six air frames each, providing in order to provide between 300 and 600 hours of full motion video a month. The navy is considering both VTOL and fixed-wing solutions. Boeing is also offering the Sciebel S-100 for this task while other companies are offering fixed wing solutions to meet these requirements.

According to Shepard’s UVOnline, the US Special Operations Command is also interested in this ‘class’ of UAV and suggested that Skeldar could be put forward for the navy’s Ship-launched Persistent Integrated Countermeasure Electronic Warfare (SPICE) requirement.

Copyright © 2011 Defense Update. All Rights Reserved.

20-08-11, 03:35 AM

SOURCE:Flight Daily News

AUVSI: RQ-7 likely not to blame for C-130 collision

By Stephen Trimble

An initial analysis may absolve the AAI RQ-7 Shadow of blame for a mid-air collision with a Lockheed Martin C-130 over Afghanistan on August 15, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

Rather than colliding with the manned aircraft, the unmanned RQ-7 was overtaken from behind by the C-130, sources said.

Images of the damage to the C-130 posted on the Internet show the aircraft struck the left wing between the two engine nacelles. The damage appeared limited to the leading-edge structures, as well as the tips of some of the C-130's propellers.

Although the RQ-7 was not apparently at fault, several news headlines implied that the unmanned aircraft collided with the manned aircraft and not vice versa. For example, highly popular technology blog Gizmodo's headline declared: "Here's what it looks like when a drone crashes into a C-130."

In reality, neither a manned or unmanned aircraft can sense and avoid a collision from behind in the absence of a cue from ground-based radar or other offboard warning systems.

The highly publicized incident came at a particularly sensitive time for the small-UAS industry. The US FAA is close to publishing new standards for allowing small UAS into the national airspace on a relatively unrestricted basis.

UAS of all sizes have compiled millions of flight hours in Afghanistan and Iraq, but with a mixed safety record. No fatalities have yet been recorded from a collision between a manned and unmanned aircraft, although there have been several reports of hits and near-misses.

23-08-11, 01:57 AM

A Defense Technology Blog

AFRL Wants Big Radars on Small UAVs

Posted by Graham Warwick at 8/22/2011 8:39 AM CDT

The US Air Force Research Laboratory is seeking ideas on how to integrate extremely large radar arrays on to relatively small long-endurance unmanned aircraft to detect and track dismounts -- individuals on foot.

The request for information on conformal load-bearing arrays for dismount detection (CLADD) is a return to an area ARFL has studied in the past, most recently in building a prototype low-band structural array (LOBSTAR) aimed at enabling the lab's SensorCraft high-altitude, long-endurance surveillance UAV concept.

The LOBSTAR effort integrated a low-frequency ground moving-target indication (GMTI) radar array into a 7.6m-long structure representative of a section of the swept wing of Northrop's SensorCraft design. The array was optimized for detecting and tracking slow-moving vehicles under foliage.

LOBSTAR array (Photo: AFRL)

LOBSTAR was followed by XTRA, a program to develop a thin load-bearing X-band SAR/GMTI array for the Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems program, which was cancelled in 2006.

The CLADD RFI is looking for concepts for a conformal active phased-array high-frequency radar that could be integrated into the primary load-bearing structure of a UAV -- such as the wing or fuselage -- to provide a large aperture on a small vehicle. The lab wants concepts that can be at a technology readiness level 6 (prototype demonstration) within four years.

AFRL is additionally looking for software algorithms that would enable the detection and discrimination of dismounts and characterization of their behavior using "biofidelic human models". The lab is also interested in other radar modes that could be enabled, such as SAR, datalink and electronic attack.

23-08-11, 02:46 PM
Rockwell Collins’ Digital Network Technology Helps U.S. Navy Validate Systems Required to Operate X-47B Unmanned System from A Carrier

(Source: Rockwell Collins; issued August 19, 2011)

WASHINGTON --- Rockwell Collins Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) played a key role in the U.S. Navy’s recent demonstration of an autonomous carrier landing capability developed as part of the Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program.

During this historic operation, an F/A-18D aircraft served as a manned surrogate for the Northrop Grumman Corporation built X-47B unmanned aircraft, completing a series of carrier integration objectives that included launches, touch-and-go landings, and arrested landings. All of these maneuvers were supported by Rockwell Collins’ TTNT equipment, which enabled digital communications between the carrier and the F/A-18D, without human intervention.

“Successful autonomous carrier landing scenarios for unmanned aircraft require pinpoint navigation accuracy as well as absolute minimum data link latencies to ensure that the X-47B tracks and adjusts its flight path based on deck movement,” said Bob Haag, vice president and general manager of Communications Products for Rockwell Collins. “Our TTNT technology delivers very low latency, precise navigation and ad hoc networking capability that directly enabled this demonstration of carrier capable unmanned aircraft.”

The F/A-18D used in the demonstration was equipped with a subset of the avionics and guidance, navigation and control software that will allow the X-47B to perform precision landings on the carrier, he added.

UCAS-D prime contractor Northrop Grumman designed, produced and is currently flight testing the X-47B. As part of the program, the Navy, Northrop Grumman and Rockwell Collins conducted a series of tests of an integrated communication and navigation package. The UCAS-D aircraft/ship integration demonstration is focused on digitizing current communications and navigation information flow to incorporate capabilities required for unmanned flight operations aboard a carrier, with minimal impact to existing hardware, training and procedures.

TTNT is an advanced tactical data link providing an airborne networking capability for warfighters. It has been used in demonstrations on more than a dozen airborne and ground platforms, including the F-16, F-22, F-15, T-39, F/A-18, B-2, B-52, Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) and E-2C Hawkeye.

Rockwell Collins is a pioneer in the development and deployment of innovative communication and aviation electronic solutions for both commercial and government applications. Our expertise in flight deck avionics, cabin electronics, mission communications, information management, and simulation and training is delivered by 20,000 employees, and a global service and support network that crosses 27 countries.


23-08-11, 10:10 PM

A Defense Technology Blog

Hermes 450 Aids Brazilian Strike Mission

Posted by Robert Wall at 8/23/2011 10:44 AM CDT

You'd have to hope that they keep a persistent aerial view over this target? Airstrips like this are easily repaired and back in service within days even by just using local labour...........

The Brazilian air force says that it relied heavily on its Elbit Hermes 450 unmanned aircraft during a recent attack on an illegal air field within its own borders.

(Photos: Brazilian air force)

Designated the RQ-450 by the service, the UAS was used to collect the intelligence needed to dispatch four Super Tucanos to bomb the dirt air strip near the border with Colombia.

The RQ-450 is operated by the 1st Squadron, 12th Aviation Group.

23-08-11, 10:18 PM

A Defense Technology Blog

Libyan Rebels Flying Micro UAV's

Posted by Paul McLeary at 8/23/2011 9:11 AM CDT

Not only do the Libyan rebels fighting to remove Muammar Gaddafi and his family from power have a ready-made, NATO-supplied air force at their disposal, but they’re also operating their own unmanned aerial systems with Libyans at the controls. In what might be one of the first cases of an armed, non-state military group flying its own unmanned assets, we found out today that the rebel group—the Transitional National Council—has been flying the Aeryon Scout Micro UAV on day and night missions for some time now.

The three-pound, quadrotar bird is a Vertical Take off and Landing (VTOL) system that was delivered to the rebels in Misrata by a British/Canadian private security company called Zariba Security Corporation, whose members also taught the Libyans how to operate the system.

According to the scoop at sUAS News:

With only a day and a half of training flights and a few familiarization flights, the rebels put the Scout into service on the frontline. “The system has been operating perfectly, with no incidents – quite impressive for those familiar with the statistics of other small UAVs in operational theatres,” said [Zariba’s] Charles Barlow.

The rebels apparently only watched one demonstration flight before taking the controls, using the UAV the next day. Lots of questions here, obviously, such as: who is paying Zariba? Who bought the UAV (or was it donated?) Who organized the operation? Regardless of the answers to those questions, one thing is for certain: while this might be a first, it's certainly not the last time a non-state actor gets its hands on this kind of technology.

Pic: Aeryon

23-08-11, 10:32 PM
More on this from Wired.com.............

Libyan Rebels Are Flying Their Own Minidrone

By Spencer Ackerman August 23, 2011 | 1:08 pm

Uploaded by aeryonlabs on Aug 22, 2011
While NATO countries fly unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) high above Libya, none of these UAVs, or the vital intelligence they provide, was available to the Libyans fighting to free their country -- they were fighting blind. So, they got one of their own. The Libyan rebels have been using the Aeryon Scout Micro UAV to acquire intelligence on enemy positions and to coordinate their resistance efforts. This video gives sample photos and video from both the Scout's daylight and thermal payloads.

Neat little system and GREAT advertising for a small manufacturer.............

The Libyan revolutionaries are more of a band of enthusiastic amateurs than experienced soldiers. But it turns out the rebels have the kind of weaponry usually possessed by advanced militaries: their very own drone.

Aeryon Labs, a Canadian defense firm, revealed on Tuesday that it had quietly provided the rebel forces with a teeny, tiny surveillance drone, called the Aeryon Scout. Small enough to fit into a backpack, the 3-pound, four-rotor robot gave Libyan forces eyes in the sky independent of the Predators, Fire Scout surveillance copters and manned spy planes that NATO flew overhead. Don’t worry, it’s not armed.

So far, the rebels have just one Scout among them, according to Marni McVicar, Aeryon’s vice president for business development. Working with a Canadian private security company called Zariba, Aeryon delivered the Scout “several weeks” ago to rebels in the Western port city of Misurata who used it, according to McVicar, to hasten their surprisingly rapid march to Tripoli.

The rebels needed barely a day of training to use a technology that many national armies would love to acquire. “We like to joke that it’s designed for people who are not that bright, have fat fingers and break things,” McVicar told Danger Room in a phone interview.

Listening to McVicar’s description, the Aeryon Scout sounds user-friendly enough to be operated by the car dealers, medical students and teachers who formed the impromptu Libyan rebel army in the west. Unlike many minidrones, the Scout isn’t controlled by a joystick. It’s run by a touchscreen tablet powered by Windows XP. The interface divides the screen among imagery (still or video) that the drone collects and displays in real time, a control dashboard and a programmable map of the area to fly over.

“You simply press on the screen and that’s where the vehicle goes,” McVicar said. “Press where you want the camera to focus on, and you’re done.”

It also gives the rebels another advantage that lots of armies desire: night vision. A thermal-imagery camera aboard the Scout provides an alternative to night-vision goggles, and from arguably a better vantage point. In the video above, released by Aeryon on Tuesday, nighttime images of Libyan artillery positions come into view from the Scout.

McVicar wouldn’t say how much the Libyan rebels paid for the drone. But she noted when asked that the drone retails for $100,000.

How the rebels even got the drone is fascinating as well. Representatives of Libya’s rebel government checked out demos of the Scout in Ottawa, Ontario, a few months ago. They were frustrated with not being able to see the aerial imagery NATO collected from its satellites, spy planes and drones, and wanted their own flying robots — although it’s been reported that NATO has coordinated surveillance with the rebels ahead of the Tripoli offensive. Some rebels had even taken to strapping cameras onto model airplanes. After being impressed with the Scout, the Transitional National Council decided it wanted something a bit more professional.

So a Canadian military vet, Charles Barlow, brought it personally into Misurata. Armed with a Canadian export license and the backpack-sized Scout, Barlow boarded a retrofitted tuna boat at Malta that was used to send humanitarian aid to Misurata despite NATO’s maritime blockade in late July. As far as Barlow is aware, Canada licensed the drone for sale to the Libyan rebels, but NATO didn’t know that the boat carried it into port, even after multiple hailings by NATO vessels.

Barlow, who runs a Canadian private-security firm called the Zariba Security Corporation, told Danger Room that he spent only about 24 hours teaching Misurata’s rebels how to use the Scout. On the bombed-out airfield near the port, Barlow launched about 10 test flights while Gadhafi’s artillery crashed down only a few miles away.

There was also little doubt about where the Libyan rebels wanted to use it. “The only imagery they wanted loaded on was Misurata to Tripoli, on that coastal road,” Barlow said. “I can’t hand-on-heart tell you it’s in Tripoli, but this was the main front out of Misurata.”

As Paul McLeary at Ares notes, the arrival of drone technology — even in micromachine form — to a band of rebels is yet another example of the rapid proliferation of unmanned vehicles away from the control of powerful state militaries. It was a big deal in 2005 when Hezbollah flew Iranian surveillance drones into Israel. “It’s certainly not the last time a nonstate actor gets its hands on this kind of technology,” McLeary writes.

So did its role in drone proliferation trouble Aeryon? “That was an issue,” McVicar conceded. “The company we work with, Zariba, had vetted this through our [Canadian] government. They got the OK to go ahead.”

Barlow hopes that the men to whom he sold the drone end up in charge in Libya. “I’ve been to warzones, I’m ex-military, I’ve been Afghanistan, Bosnia, Lebanon — but I’ve never seen people who had to fight or else. These guys fighting were not soldiers,” Barlow said, impressed. “I can hope the people who did the fighting are the people who take over. They’re wonderful guys.”

23-08-11, 10:49 PM

SOURCE:Flight International

US firm targets unmanned helicopter market with two new designs

By Stephen Trimble

A Colorado, US-based supplier has unveiled two new unmanned helicopters designed to challenge the Saab Skeldar and Schiebel S-100 in bids for US contracts.

Scion Aviation intends to start flight tests in the fourth quarter of this year with a 68kg (150lb)-class unmanned air system (UAS) called Weasel, said chief executive Jim Sampson.

The Weasel is being designed offer a 36kg payload capacity for a wide range of military and civil government applications, Sampson said.

He cited the competition for a mid-endurance UAS contract for the US Special Operations Command as one near-term opportunity. The aircraft also could be offered to border protection, coast guard and law enforcement agencies, he said.

A full-scale model for a larger vehicle, Badger, was also on display at the AUVSI Unmanned Systems North America convention in mid-August.

The larger aircraft is being considered for crop-dusting flights, Sampson said.

The announcement indicates that Scion is planning to broaden its business portfolio.

Sampson launched the company 10 years ago to produce a replacement for the Bell 206 JetRanger, but the financial turmoil after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the USA removed potential backing from his original investors.

Scion went on to find a niche as a rapid prototyping supplier to L-3 Communications and Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works unit.

Sampson then leveraged the company's initial investment in two advanced autoclaves for curing aerospace composite materials into a niche business.

23-08-11, 11:55 PM
10 Hour Flight for Hydrogen Powered Fuel Cell UAS

Posted on August 23, 2011 by The Editor

Robota LLC demonstrated a 10 hour and 4 minute flight of its unmanned aircraft platform named Robosoar. The UAS is designed to be man-portable, operated by a single person and is capable of autonomous takeoff and landing.

The flight marked a very successful initial integration test flight combining the clean power source of hydrogen and an ultra efficient UAS. This achievement comes only 4 months after Robota began designing the Robosoar’s custom airframe and adaptations to Robota’s proprietary Goose autopilot. The plane flew at 17 lbs (7.7kg) and can carry over 4 pounds of payload. It covered 380 miles (611 km) on its ten hour endeavour. “We are nowhere near the limits of this technology,” says Antonio Liska, President of Robota LLC. “Soon, 10 hour endurance will be common place in portable UAS, and they’ll be carrying out tasks that we cant yet imagine.”

Robosoar was powered by EnergyOr’s EPOD EO-210 hydrogen powered fuel cell system. Robota doubled the EPOD’s previous flight time with the Robosoar airframe. Hydrogen fuel cells provide far more energy per volume/weight than batteries, are very easy to maintain, and operate quietly. Safe hydrogen tanks make it possible for anyone to easily handle the fuel cell system. Furthermore, the monetary cost of hydrogen for the flight was only a few dollars and the only exhaust emissions were a few cups worth of water.

Founded in 2005, Robota LLC is a small, privately owned company based in Sealy, TX with expertise in every aspect of unmanned aircraft design and operation. Robota prides itself on quick turnarounds of very dependable and efficient unmanned systems, which is possible due to its proprietary autopilot technology.

EnergyOR is based in Montreal, Quebec and is a manufacturer of PEM fuel cells. EnergyOR is the proud owner of a Robosoar airframe, which they renamed FAUCON H2.

23-08-11, 11:57 PM
Northrop Grumman Enters Bat for IED-Hunting Sand Dragon B Programme

Posted on August 23, 2011 by The Editor

Northrop Grumman Corp. Aerospace Systems sector in San Diego is using the company’s Bat unmanned aircraft in the U.S. Air Force Sand Dragon B programme to defeat improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other roadside bombs.

The Northrop Grumman Bat UAS is a rail-launched, net-recovered, runway-independent UAS shaped like a bat in flight. It has a 2-foot wingspan, has a 212-pound gross weight, and will be equipped with the Cobalt 190 from the FLIR Systems Inc. Government Systems segment in Arlington, Va., says Mark Gamache, the Sand Dragon B programme manager at Northrop Grumman Aerospace.

Northrop Grumman won a $26.2 million contract last week to develop and deploy the Sand Dragon B UAS with counter-IED capability. Awarding the contract on 12 Aug. were officials of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Northrop Grumman joins the Chandler May Inc. AME Unmanned Air Systems segment in San Luis Obispo, Calif., on the San Dragon IED-hunting UAV programme.

The Northrop Grumman Bat UAS entry in the Air force Sand Dragon B programme is a medium-altitude UAV that can be configured with different-sized fuel tanks and different sensor payloads. The Bat has a blended body design able to carry a 3.2-cubic-foot payload.

The Bat Northrop Grumman Bat UAS has two engine variants — a Hirth electronic fuel-injection engine, as well as a heavy fuel-variant, which runs on a version of JP-8 fuel, the most widely used fuel used by the U.S. military, Northrop Grumman officials say.

23-08-11, 11:59 PM
Middle Tennessee State University Partners with US Army to Develop UAS Technology

Posted on August 23, 2011 by The Editor

Sidney A. McPhee (left), President of Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, and Army Colonel Timothy Baxter, Project Manager for the Army's Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office

Middle Tennessee State University signed a MoU with the US Army’s UAS Program Office. The Army is partnering with MTSU to turn university-level research and development into technology applicable to UAS.

As part of the exchange, the Army pledged to support MTSU’s UAS educational and research efforts; MTSU will receive three hand-launched, remote-controlled AeroVironment RQ-11 Raven aircraft and two control stations from the Army later this autumn.

The University simultaneously announced plans for a Center for Unmanned Systems Operational Advancement and Research at MTSU, to be known as MT-CUSOAR. The new center will provide a collaborative environment for academic, industry and government entities to advance UAS operations and technology integration.

The pact is the first signed between a university and the Army UAS Program Office, which operates the largest unmanned fleet in America. Although the Army works with other universities on a contract basis, the collaboration with MTSU is unprecedented.

“We are proud and pleased to enter into this innovative partnership with the Army in the exploration and development of UAS technology and training,” said President Sidney A. McPhee, who joined Army officials in Washington for the announcement.

“For more than six decades, MTSU has been on the leading edge of aerospace education,” McPhee added in a press release. “This agreement is another in a series of bold steps forward that we’ve taken to provide the very best in facilities, training and service in this important area.”

“This agreement will serve the educational needs of a growing industry and a growing program in the Army,” noted Col. Timothy Baxter, project manager for the Army UAS Program Office, in a press release. “We are committed to this program’s success, which will help to accelerate the technological advances we seek in Army UAS programs.”

MTSU Aerospace Chair Wayne Dornan said the agreement is “another major step” in building “the best UAS research and educational program in the United States.”

Kyle Snyder, director for MTSU’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operations, said the aerospace department also is developing a curriculum for a bachelor’s degree in aerospace with a concentration in UAS operations.

“The UAS Operations curriculum will prepare graduates to lead UAS flight programs for civilian markets ranging from law enforcement to agriculture applications,” Snyder said in a prepared statement.. “A combination of academic coursework, field experiences and industry internships will prime graduates of the UAS Operations program to launch careers in the fast-growing world of UAS.”

The new agreement adds to MTSU’s momentum in UAS study and research. A spring 2011 partnership with UAS leader ISR Group of Savannah, Tenn., is giving the University an increasingly stronger foothold in UAS development. MTSU also is working with the Federal Aviation Administration in its sweeping overhaul of the national airspace system through the Next Generation Air Transportation program as part of a 33-member, $1.4 billion team led by ITT Corp

Source: DNJ

Milne Bay
24-08-11, 10:07 AM
ScanEagle tops half million flight hours

24 Aug 2011

Insitu has announced that its ScanEagle unmanned aircraft system (UAS) surpassed 500,000 combat flight hours and more than 56,000 combat sorties to deliver actionable intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) to the war fighter with 99 percent mission readiness.

Consistently providing long sorties and high mission readiness over half a million hours demonstrates the maturity and reliability of Insitu systems, processes and practices.

The small-operational footprint, runway-independent ScanEagle UAS can stay aloft for more than 24 hours – more than twice the time of the average mission, so it can respond to the unexpected – capturing superior image quality covertly at relatively low altitudes. Currently there is an average of 22 ScanEagle aircraft in flight globally at any given time.

The system has provided uninterrupted service to the war fighter since its first deployment with the US Marine Corps in 2004 and subsequently with the ADF.


24-08-11, 03:31 PM
UAV Factory Penguin B Flies 26 Hours with a Two-Stroke Model Engine

Posted on August 24, 2011 by The Editor

On the late evening of August 10th of 2011, the UAV Factory team set out for a flight with the aim to break the 40 hour endurance record with a two-stroke model engine. The aircraft was the 20 kg, Penguin B , manufactured by UAV Factory Ltd.

Uploaded by UAVFACTORY on Aug 13, 2011
On the late evening of August 10th of 2011, UAV Factory team has set out for a flight with the aim to break the 40 hour endurance mark. The aircraft was the 20 kg, Penguin B UAV, manufactured by UAV Factory Ltd.

A significant fact to note is that for the aircraft set-up we use a stock Penguin B UAV, powered by a 28 cc two-stroke gas model aircraft engine and UAV Factory's proprietary on-board generator system. The engine was, however modified by UAV Factory engineers to improve specific fuel consumption, but it was still a two-stroke model engine with inherently inefficient fuel consumption. Nevertheless, most model engines have significant benefits as well -- they are low cost, simple and reliable.

The Penguin B UAV was launched using a car-top launcher at 20:15 pm. The weather was particularly poor during the flight, with the wind gusts of 15 m/s and a strong continuous rain. After 26 hours and 30 minutes of flight, the Penguin was forced to land at 22.45pm on August 11th due to software malfunction. There was still 2.5 kg of fuel left in the Penguin B UAV gas tank, which is enough for 13 to 14 hours of flight.

During the flight the Penguin B UAV maintained an average speed of 19.8 m/s and covered 1889 kilometres. Penguin B also carried 1.6 kg of payload to demonstrate the usability of the system. The flight was performed as close to the best endurance flight regime as possible which meant continuously recalculating the flight speed as the aircraft was getting lighter.

The flight demonstrated that it is possible to achieve a long endurance flight using low-cost two-stroke model engine, while still carrying a meaningful amount of payload. For more information, please visit UAV Factory's webpage www.uavfactory.com or email info@uavfactory.com

A significant fact to note is that for the aircraft set-up a stock Penguin B UAV, powered by a 28 cc two-stroke gas model aircraft engine and UAV Factory’s proprietary on-board generator system was used. The engine was, however modified by UAV Factory engineers to improve specific fuel consumption, but it was still a two-stroke model engine with its inherently inefficient fuel consumption.

The Penguin B was launched using a car-top launcher at 20:15 pm. The weather was particularly poor during the flight, with the wind gusts of 15 m/s and a strong continuous rain. After 26 hours and 30 minutes of flight, the Penguin was forced to land at 22.45pm on August 11th due to software malfunction. There was still 2.5 kg of fuel left in the Penguin B gas tank, which is enough for 13 to 14 hours of flight.

During the flight the Penguin B maintained an average speed of 19.8 m/s and covered 1889 kilometres. Penguin B also carried 1.6 kg of payload to demonstrate the usability of the system. The flight was performed as close to the best endurance flight regime as possible which meant continuously recalculating the flight speed as the aircraft was getting lighter.

The flight demonstrated that it is possible to achieve a long endurance flight using low-cost two-stroke model engine, while still carrying a meaningful amount of payload.

Source: Press Release

25-08-11, 11:00 AM
Integrating UAS into NextGen Systems

Posted on August 25, 2011 by The Editor

Uploaded by mitrecorp on Aug 17, 2011
Unmanned aircraft could one day conduct a wide range of civilian and commercial tasks, but currently can only operate on a very restricted basis in civil airspace. MITRE is helping unmanned aircraft operate safely in the national airspace by integrating them into the FAA's air traffic control system.

MITRE released this video explaining what it is doing to help unmanned aircraft operate safely in the national airspace by integrating them into the FAA’s air traffic control system.

Source: YouTube

25-08-11, 11:03 AM
Ultra Electronics Fuel Cell Quadruples Small UAS Endurance

Posted on August 25, 2011 by The Editor

Ultra Electronics has confirmed providing a new fuel cell that quadrupled the range of a conventionally-powered Lockheed Martin Stalker UAS.

The UAS Power Pod is aimed at dramatically increasing the endurance of any UAS in the class below the 18kg (39.7lb) Boeing/Insitu ScanEagle. The 2.6kg power system generated 245W on board the Stalker during a demonstration flight in May, and Lockheed hopes to eventually achieve 24h endurance with the fuel-cell powered, hand-launched UAS.

The fuel cell combines propane and a solid oxider to generate an energy density of 1,200Wh/kg – four times the density offered by lithium-polymer batteries.

The Power Pod is now being prepared to enter field trials to make it ready for production. The fuel cell technology was developed by Adaptive Materials, which was acquired earlier this year by Ultra.

Source: Flight Global

25-08-11, 11:06 AM
Northwest Engines Get Lighter, Quieter and More Power

Posted on August 25, 2011 by The Editor

Wolverine 3 HP Heavy Fuel Engine


Oregon-based, family-run Northwest UAV Propulsion Systems is developing a suite of technologies to boost the performance and lighten the load for small unmanned aircraft systems.

Northwest provides gasoline and heavy fuel engines for variety of small UAS, including the Boeing/Insitu Scan Eagle and Integrator, as well as variable-pitch propellers, structural and skin components and rapid prototyping capabilities.

Along with a new 3D nylon printing process that has lightened the structural weight of the InSitu Inceptor by 30%, Northwest is building a hybrid-electric propulsion system for the US Air Force Research Laboratory under a one-year small business contract issued earlier this year. Aurora Flight Sciences also won an award to research the technology.

Under Phase One of the project, to be completed in November, Northwest has built a prototype engine, which new product development lead Chris Pellegrino says will be a “very specialized” power-plant. “You will lose endurance and range, but gain the ability to run solely on electric,” a feature that will allow for very quiet operations.

Aside from hybrid electric, the company is working on a host of other quiet technologies, including mufflers and propellers. Pellegrino says the company’s quite muffler is now being used on the Scan Eagle and Integrator, and airframer Arcturus is evaluating the highly unusual carbon fibre propeller design to hush the T-20.

Source: Flight Global

25-08-11, 11:07 AM
AAI Shadow to be Armed within Two Years

Posted on August 25, 2011 by The Editor

U.S. Marine Corps plans to arm the AAI RQ-7B Shadow tactical unmanned aircraft have cleared NATO treaty compliance hurdles. The service now expects to conduct a field user evaluation within 18-24 months.

NATO approval was needed as the rail-launched Shadow falls under a treaty intended to prevent the proliferation of intermediate-range cruise missiles. “We had to demonstrate it is a UAS,” says Col. James Rector, Navy programme manager for small tactical unmanned aerial systems.

AAI will be responsible for selecting a 25-lb.-class precision munition to arm the Shadow, but the Marine Corps is looking for an available weapon that already has the required safety approvals so the program can focus on system integration. “The weapon has to be TRL [technology readiness level] 9,” Rector says.

The first phase is an experiment, and we need to bring a weapon system that meets the objectives of the experiment,” says Steve Reid, AAI vice president of unmanned aircraft systems. “We want something with prior certification, and not many sources meet that criterion.”

Candidate weapons include General Dynamics’ 81mm air-dropped guided mortar, MBDA’s Saber glide bomb, Raytheon’s Small Tactical Munition unpowered mini-missile, and both the common smart submunition and guided clean area weapon from AAI sister company Textron Defense.

“We are still in the detail selection process,” Reid says. “We have been working on [arming Shadow] internally for about three years and have done trade studies and downselected weapons We are being careful to keep an open architecture approach, to make Shadow a universal platform that can accept a variety of weapons under 25 pounds.”

As the principal customer for the Shadow, the Army will help the Marines weaponize the aircraft, says Tim Owings, AAI deputy programme manager for Army UAS.

The plan involves porting over to the Shadow ground station the weapons-control software already developed for the MQ-1C Gray Eagle, which uses the same AAI-developed One System for its ground control system.

Source: Aviation Week

26-08-11, 03:58 AM

A Defense Technology Blog

France Expands UAS Operations

Posted by Robert Wall at 8/25/2011 6:40 AM CDT

France has begun Harfang unmanned air vehicle operations over Libya.

(Photo: EMA)

The French defense ministry says the deployment commenced August 18, with the first mission flown August 24. It was conducted at night.

Previously, the French air force's Harfangs (based on the IAI Heron UAS) have been used operationally only in Afghanistan.

Libya operations are being flown from the Sigonella air base on Sicily. France also has deployed Rafale fighters to the Italian air base.

26-08-11, 02:37 PM
US Navy Considers Fire-X from Northrop Grumman and Bell Helicopter

Posted on August 26, 2011 by The Editor

US Navy acquisition officials are in discussions with Northrop about acquiring an unmanned helicopter based on the Bell 407 civil helicopter for special operations use.

The possible sale is a rapid outgrowth of an effort Northrop and Bell began less than two years ago to demonstrate how the 407 could be converted into a remote-control or autonomous vehicle for surveillance and supply flights.

And as Northrop and Bell began testing a prototype — the so-called Fire-X — in December, the Navy was beginning a search for a longer-range, more capable unmanned helicopter. With months of flight testing data in hand, Northrop officials were able to pitch the unmanned system as the best candidate.

“They turned to us and said, ‘Tell us more about this Fire-X thing,’” said Mike Fuqua, director of business development for Northrop’s tactical unmanned systems.

As the military services have increasingly turned to unmanned systems in recent years, the need arose for vertical-takeoff-and-landing aircraft. Northrop developed one of the first to enter service. The Navy’s MQ-8B Fire Scout, based on the small Schweizer civil helicopter, has been used extensively in Afghanistan and operated from Navy ships. “We’d sort of seen where the services were heading, looking for more capability and endurance,” Fuqua said.

Testing of the Fire-X concept demonstrator at the military’s Yuma Proving Ground has gone well since December. Fuqua declined to detail the number of flights or flight hours, but said all of the test points have been achieved to date.

The aircraft is a stock 407 modified last year at Bell’s Xworx research and development facility in Arlington. The flight control technology Northrop developed for the Fire Scout was adapted to the larger Bell aircraft.

Northrop and Bell were aiming the development programme toward the Army and Marines, but the Navy may be the first to buy it. If the Navy goes ahead with purchases, the Northrop-Bell aircraft would be re-designated the MQ-8C Fire Scout.

Bell declined to comment and referred all questions to Northrop.

Northrop would be the prime contractor, with Bell providing the base aircraft from its civil helicopter production facility in Mirabel, Quebec. Bell produces rotor blades, transmissions and other components for the aircraft in its Fort Worth-area plants. The company’s civil helicopter sales have slowed dramatically in the sluggish economy.

Northrop’s Fuqua said it hasn’t been determined which company will perform the unmanned modifications or where, but said it was possible Bell could do some of that work in Texas.

Bell’s worldwide service network and parts supply chain is also an attraction to the military.

Navy officials have received Northrop’s recommendations and are working on an acquisition plan to decide how many aircraft to buy and how soon, said Jamie Cosgrove, spokeswoman for the Naval Air Systems Command program office in Patuxent River, Md.

Money has been set aside in the Navy budget to pay for further development and acquisition of the unmanned aircraft, Cosgrove said.

Source: Star Telegram

26-08-11, 02:43 PM
US Marine Corps Buys Two Insitu Integrators

Posted on August 26, 2011 by The Editor

The US Marine Corps has purchased two Insitu Integrator unmanned aircraft systems to provide pre-deployment training at 29 Palms, California.

The first system will be delivered next month and the second soon after. The U.S. Navy plans to purchase two similar Integrator systems for its special-warfare forces.

This “early operational capability” (EOC) option has been exercised under the Navy/Marine Corps RQ-21A Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (Stuas) development contract awarded to Boeing subsidiary Insitu in 2010. Stuas is a development of the commercial Integrator, and the decision to field EOC systems follows an operational assessment of the UAS at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz., earlier this year.

The two, four-aircraft Integrator systems purchased by the Marines will be delivered to 29 Palms to support Mojave Viper pre-deployment training for units heading to Afghanistan, according to Col. James Rector, program manager for Navy and Marine Corps small tactical UAS.

Mojave Viper exercises are currently supported by one ScanEagle system operated by Boeing and Insitu under their ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) services contract. “One system allows them to see one valley,” Rector said Aug. 16 at the AUVSI Unmanned Systems North America show in Washington. “The EOC Integrator systems will allow them to look at multiple valleys and provide more realistic training.”

The EOC systems also will be operated by Boeing and Insitu under their ISR services contract and used only for training.

The Marines are not planning to deploy the Integrators operationally, “but since they have bought them, they may elect to take the EOC systems [to Afghanistan].”

Development of the Stuas is on track, Rector says. The preliminary design review was completed last month and the critical design review is scheduled for December. The RQ-21A is meeting its key performance parameters and exceeding the threshold endurance requirement of 10 hr., he says.

Rector says the Navy is handling its first potential foreign military sale of the RQ-21A, to the Netherlands, which has announced plans to acquire ScanEagle systems as a first step.

Insitu, meanwhile, says it is close to a significant direct commercial sale of the Integrator.

Source: Aviation Week

27-08-11, 02:45 AM

SOURCE:Flight International

IAI completes development work on Mini Panther UAS

By Arie Egozi

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has completed development work on its Mini Panther tiltrotor unmanned air system (UAS), and has started offering the design to potential customers.

"We are now beginning to market the system," said Avi Bleser, marketing manager of the company's Malat division. While he refused to identify any potential buyers, IAI has previously described the 2h-endurance design as being relevant for special forces operators.

Powered by three electric motors and with a maximum take-off weight of 12kg (26lb), the Mini Panther uses an automatic flight control system to manage the transition between its hovering take-off phase to forward flight and back for landing.

© Israel Aerospace Industries

IAI is already offering a larger Panther UAS design with a 65kg maximum take-off weight and a 6h endurance.

28-08-11, 12:32 PM
Another more realistic micro-air unmanned system.............via Soldier Systems blog.........

Datron Scout

August 27th, 2011

If you’re at the Soldier Equipment & Technology Expo & Conference next week at Fort Bragg be sure to stop by Datron’s booth and take a look at the Scout Air Reconnaissance System. The Scout is a lightweight vertical take off and landing unmanned air system. It features hot-swappable payloads and missions profiles that include beyond line of sight or nighttime routes due to its GPS-based controls.


29-08-11, 11:47 AM

SOURCE:Flight International

Denel completes assembly of Seeker 400 prototype

By Craig Hoyle

South Africa's Denel Dynamics plans to conduct the first flight of its prototype Seeker 400 unmanned air vehicle (UAV) in the first quarter of 2012, having announced the completion of manufacturing activities.

Denel unveiled a mock-up of the Shadow 400 at the Africa Aerospace and Defence Show in Cape Town last year. It has self-funded development work on the tactical UAV, and could launch series production from late next year.

"There is already a launch customer for the Seeker 400 who operated the Seeker I tactical UAV in the early 1990s," it said.

"Two other countries which currently operate the Seeker II are also interested, because the new aircraft can be controlled by using their existing control stations."

[I]© Denel Dynamics
Denel has exhibited a model of the Seeker 400 carrying two Mokopa anti-tank missiles

The Seeker 400 has a planned endurance of up to 16h carrying a twin payload, with line-of-sight operations possible over a range of 250km (135nm). The addition of a satellite communications fit would increase this to 750km, the manufacturer said.

The company recently displayed a model of the Seeker 400 with another growth option - two of its Mokopa anti-tank missiles.

"A number of countries have already expressed interest in an armed version of the UAV," it said.

The up to 10km-range Mokopa has previously been trialled using South African Air Force Rooivalk Mk 1 combat support helicopters.

Meanwhile, Denel said work on its Bateleur medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV has been placed on hold to enable it to complete development of the Seeker 400.

30-08-11, 01:04 AM
Weird, Birdlike Mystery Drone Crashes in Pakistan

By Spencer Ackerman August 29, 2011 | 10:30 am

It looks a bit like silver bird. It probably was used to spy on insurgents. And now it’s in the hands of the Pakistanis.

WIRED editor-in-chief Chris Anderson flags pictures of an unusual, unfamiliar drone that reportedly crashed crashed over southwestern Pakistan late last week. It’s a surveillance drone, with a camera attached — recovered from the crash but not apparently visible in this photo — rather than the larger, deathly flying robots that shoot missiles. This one looks tiny, with a wingspan not much longer than a man’s outstretched arms, and clearly light enough for a grown man to carry.

The Pakistani Frontier Corps in Baluchistan province recovered the drone. And they confidently declare it to be an “American surveillance unmanned aerial vehicle.” But as Anderson points out, it doesn’t look like anything the U.S. flies — or at least acknowledges flying. What’s the deal?

Danger Room asked some of our favorite drone and aviation enthusiasts for their perspective on the small mystery drone. And we weren’t the only ones who thought it looked decidedly avian.

Check out the SmartBird, a drone designed by the engineers at Festo and modeled explicitly on the herring gull:

It’s clearly not the same drone, as the wings are obviously different: the mystery drone’s wings are straighter and more sharply angled than the SmartBird’s sleeker, more rounded wings, which mimic those of the gull. Judging from the light of the second picture, the SmartBird’s wings — which flap to enable autonomous flight — are made of more than one type of material, which doesn’t appear to be the case with the downed drone. What’s more, the downed drone’s wings have ailerons and its nose kinda-sorta looks like it hosted a propeller, two features the SmartBird lacks. One of our eagle-eyed experts points out to us that since the SmartBird is designed to weigh less than a pound (!), it probably couldn’t have carried a camera in its belly.

But the two drones look fairly similar, especially with their fantail design in the rear, and their dimensions appear to roughly align. (.PDF). TechCrunch has a cool video from last month of the SmartBird flying above a TED talk given by Festo’s Markus Fischer.

And there’s a recent push to design small drones to look more like birds that extends beyond Festo. Back in the spring, AeroVironment launched a pint-sized drone that looks like a hummingbird. That drone didn’t look anything like the one that crashed over Pakistan. But masquerading a spy robot as a bird has obvious benefits to the stealthy drone program that hunts al-Qaida in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Of course, all this speculation overlooks the simplest explanation: Forge is back in his mutant workshop.

Photo: Via DIY Drones; Festo

30-08-11, 01:38 AM
More pics of this mystery UAV via Defense Tech.................

Update: Teal’s other UAV guru, Steve Zaloga tells DT that it might be a modified Lockheed Martin Desert Hawk.

It may be a Lockheed Martin Desert Hawk with the tail plane modified to look
more like a bird for camouflage. Just a guess, but the overall size and
other features are in that ball-park. The Desert Hawk is operated mainly by the
British, but the SOF community also operates a lot of small UAVs of
mysterious provenance.

Read more: http://defensetech.org/2011/08/29/mystery-drone-crash-in-pakistan/#ixzz1WSq81sWx

30-08-11, 10:45 AM
Matternet delivers drugs by robocopter

By: Rafe Needleman August 27, 2011 6:00 AM PDT

Matternet's Andreas Raptopoulos with a prototype of his drug delivery system.
(Credit: Rafe Needleman/CNET)

The best thing I saw atCES in 2010 was the Parrot AR Drone, aniPhone-controlled quadcopter. It was a really fun toy, but an expensive one, and not that reliable either, as I learned when my demo unit dropped out of the sky. But this platform, the quadcopter, can be a serious player in solving real-world problems. Aeryon, which I covered in 2009, played an important part in the Libyan rebellion: one of its flying bots helped the rebels see over their heads to where their opposition was gathering.

And at the graduation ceremony of the Singularity University this week, I was introduced to another real-world, save-the-world company that's applying quadcopter technology: Matternet.

This particular class of S.U. was focused on solving problems for "the next billion people," those without access to modern technology. Matternet tackled the problem of getting drugs and diagnostic or test materials to people in rural areas in developing countries that don't have access to passable roads during rainy seasons.

The company proposed building a network of robotic drones to deliver medication quickly and very cost-effectively--even less than a guy on a dirt bike costs.

Matternet team leader Andreas Raptopoulos told me the nominal range of his quadcopters is 10 kilometers when carrying a 2-kilogram load (range changes with load). Landing pads act as beacons to augment GPS and guide the copters to precise landings.

While the company is building its prototype business around quadcopters, Raptopoulos told me Matternet is platform-agnostic. That makes sense, since fixed-wing drones would be faster and have much greater range (but they couldn't land as precisely).

In phase two of the company's rollout, it plans to add automated recharging stations to its networks, both to improve turnaround time and reliability, and to allow the installation of way stations that could swap or recharge batteries automatically to extend the range of the copters.

The business is straightforward: Matternet will charge aid companies for delivery services. Currently, Raptopoulos says, the Dominican Republic is financing a pilot project for the company.

The Matternet quadcopters are based on open-source technology from DIY Drones. The automatic control systems and flight programming tools are well-developed, Raptopoulos says. The flying vehicles themselves are custom built, for robustness. They should cost a few hundred dollars each.

Almost all the demos at the Singularity event were for real-world and really clever products, but this one flipped the most switches for me. Matternet is trying to create, essentially, a modern, long-distance version of the pneumatic tubes that hospitals use to shuttle samples and papers around. Building a network of robotic drug delivery helicopters is just as out there, when you think about it, as building giant Habitrails into buildings must have seemed at the time. But look how pervasive they became.

I'm also fascinated that this autonomous-helicopter form factor (four rotors, each with its own motor, on a platform about 3 feet across) is becoming a standard development platform for low-cost flying bots. I wonder where we'll see these things pop up next.

Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-19882_3-20098172-250/matternet-delivers-drugs-by-robocopter/#ixzz1WV3LG6Ed

30-08-11, 05:54 PM
AeroVironment unveils Shrike VTOL UAV

August 30, 2011

AeroVironment, Inc. today introduced its lightweight and man-portable Shrike VTOL unmanned aircraft system.

In August 2008 AeroVironment announced the receipt of a contract from DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) to develop a portable, stealthy, persistent perch and stare (SP2S) unmanned aircraft system. Shrike VTOL represents the conclusion of this development effort.

"With more than four years of customer funding behind it, our new Shrike VTOL unmanned aircraft system is designed to address the need for a small, light-weight hovering aircraft that delivers unique surveillance and intelligence capability not provided by current solutions. Not only does Shrike VTOL hover for more than 40 minutes with a high resolution video camera, but its innovative design also allows for the transmission of several hours of live video as a remotely emplaced perch and stare sensor," said Tom Herring, senior vice president and general manager of AeroVironment's UAS business segment. "This new solution adds an important set of new capabilities to our existing and battle-proven family of small unmanned aircraft systems that are saving lives in theater today."

Herring said the Shrike VTOL system delivers the superior imagery, endurance and encrypted video found in all AeroVironment small unmanned aircraft systems. Operating quietly enough to go virtually undetected, Shrike weighs approximately five pounds and is small enough to fit in a backpack.

Source: Aerovironment

01-09-11, 03:41 AM
Green X to Demonstrate Robird Bird Strike Control at EC UAS Panel Workshop at Eurocontrol in September

Posted on August 31, 2011 by The Editor

The Green X Robird will be demonstrated during the upcoming European Commission UAS Panel Workshop at Eurocontrol in Brussels, Belgium on 13-14 September 2011. Robirds have been developed to closely resemble birds of prey and precisely imitate their flight profile, and thereby be an effective tool to decrease the risks of bird strike for aviation.

Neither, humans, animals, birds nor radar can tell the difference from real birds of prey. For this development, Green X was awarded the UVS International Innovation Award at the UAS 2011 Conference in Paris.

Bird strikes pose an increasing problem to air traffic as:

■ due to environmental measures, the number of birds is rapidly increasing;
■ birds adapt to urban settings and airports;
■ modern aircraft get faster and quieter;
■ modern aircraft generally have two engines, instead of four engines as in the past, and
■ air traffic is increasing.

As a means of bird control, the Robird, a flapping wing UAS, is the only solution to remove birds lastingly in the desired direction, as it uses the natural response of birds to the presence of birds of prey.

Peregrine Falcon

When spotting a bird of prey, birds flock together and try to out climb the predator. When this happens, the Robird is flown around the flock, like a shepherd dog, to direct the birds out of harm’s way. This natural response of birds only happens when they spot a bird of prey flapping its wings. Birds know that when soaring, birds of prey do not hunt. When birds realise that an airport is the habitat of a bird of prey they will stay away for extended periods of time.

In conjunction with bird radar, Robirds can be used to prevent birds from coming to the airport and, to reroute migrating birds that might possibly cross the flight paths of aircraft on and outside the airport. Fitted with cameras Robirds can be used for inspection and surveillance, as it is very difficult to distinguish them from real birds by humans and radar alike.

For additional information visit www.greenx.nl and www.hellerdesign.nl

Source: Press Release

01-09-11, 03:44 AM
US Army Tests Manned-Unmanned Aircraft System Integration

Posted on August 31, 2011 by The Editor

The US Army will mount the largest yet demonstration of manned and unmanned aircraft systems interoperability. The manned unmanned systems integration concept (Music) exercise will take place September 15 at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah.

Music will demonstrate new manned-unmanned teaming concepts. These include the use of a universal ground-control station (UGCS) to manage multiple, different UAS platforms, and the ability of a soldier on the ground to steer a UAS sensor payload using the one-system, remote-video terminal (OSRVT). The first iteration of the army’s mini-universal, ground-control stations (M-UGCS) will be rolled out, demonstrating movement toward a common controller for small UAS, including the Aerovironment RQ-11B Raven and Puma AE. The service also plans to demonstrate M-UGCS control of the sensors on a larger General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagle.

Other participating aircraft will be AH-64D Block II Apache and OH-58D Kiowa helicopters and AAI Corp. RQ-7 Shadow and Northrop Grumman MQ-5 Hunter UAS. Music will be “the largest demonstration of interoperability between manned and unmanned systems ever conducted,” Tim Owings, Army deputy project manager for UAS, told the Army News Service. AAI Corp. is the contractor for both the UGCS and the OSRVT.

The truck-mounted UGCS will be used to control the Shadow, Gray Eagle and Hunter. Dismounted soldiers using the OSRVT with new bidirectional data-link can take control of the sensor payloads of these platforms and “steer the payload to where the operator needs to look,” the Army says.

Also to be demonstrated will be the ability of the remote terminal to receive video from the Raven and Puma, as well as the Apache and Kiowa. Under the manned-to-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) concept, the Apache can receive UAS sensor video in the cockpit and retransmit video to the ground via the OSRVT. The Kiowa is also capable of re-transmitting video from UAS to the ground, increasing the range of video available to ground troops.

Reportedly, the UAS control segments and mission- and flight-control systems operate off a very secure software platform developed by Green Hills Software of Santa Barbara, Calif. AIN was unable confirm this, although Green Hills did introduce an autonomous-vehicle, open-software platform at the recent Unmanned Systems North America conference.

Source: AIN Online

01-09-11, 03:47 AM
Kansas State University at Salina’s UAS Programme Gets FAA Airspace Authorisation

Posted on August 31, 2011 by The Editor

Interesting to see the number of UNi's getting seriously into UAS's............

Kansas State University at Salina’s unmanned aircraft systems programme office has landed key authorisation from the Federal Aviation Administration that will benefit programme offerings and students.

The office recently became one of only a few civil entities granted a certificate of authorisation within Class D airspace from the Federal Aviation Administration. The authorization allows the program, based at the Salina Municipal Airport, to operate its unmanned aircraft, an Aerosonde Mk 4.7, in the national airspace system.

“K-State’s certificate of authorisation allows our students to practice handing control over to the next ground station, practice simulated lost-link procedures, and experience scenario-based mission deployments, all of which will prepare them for possible search-and-rescue mission deployments in the future,” said Josh Brungardt, director of the unmanned aircraft systems office. “This certification of authorisation enhances the unmanned aircraft training capabilities already available at K-State Salina.”

Brungardt estimates a minimum of 10 students will assist with each practice mission. “Our unmanned aircraft systems classes are filled to capacity this semester,” said Kurt Barnhart, aviation department head. “Students recognize that we provide a unique training programme and they are excited for the hands-on experience.”

Even though unmanned test flights are new for the Salina runway, the airport does not foresee any complications. “The Salina airport hosts a variety of manned aircraft, and unmanned procedures are no different,” said Tim Rogers, an accredited airport executive and executive director of the Salina Airport Authority. “Runway 17-35 is ideally suited for K-State unmanned aircraft systems operations and training missions.” The training flights will not close any runways and a notice to airmen will be filed at least 48 hours in advance of each flight.

“K-State is advancing the use of unmanned aircraft and sensors for future commercial missions,” said Dennis Kuhlman, CEO and dean of K-State Salina. “Students in our unmanned aircraft systems bachelor’s degree program play an active role in this research, preparing them for exciting career opportunities after graduation.”

K-State’s unmanned aircraft systems programme office collaborates with military organizations and the private sector to develop unmanned flight in the nation’s airspace and training pilots and operators of unmanned aircraft systems.

K-State also establishes criteria for unmanned aircraft system flight operations, including activity at the Smoky Hill Weapons Range and eventually at the Herington unmanned aircraft system flight facility. The university’s programme office establishes policies and procedures to enable both military and civilian organizations to fly and test at the area facilities

Source: Press Release

Minnesota College Starts Unmanned Aircraft Technician Training Programme

Posted on August 31, 2011 by The Editor

Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, is training students to repair and maintain unmanned aircraft. The programme just started this month, but officials there say companies are already trying to recruit graduates.

Three years ago the aviation mechanic programme at Northland Community and Technical College nearly shut down because of a lack of students. Consolidation in the airline industry eliminated mechanic jobs and student interest in the profession.

That’s when school officials decided to focus on unmanned aircraft systems. This autumn, the college will have 70 new students in its unmanned aviation programme, Dean for Aviation Jim Retka said. “Obviously the development of our new UAS programme had a lot to do with that,” Retka said of the number of students in the technicians programme.

Students need to pass a standard aircraft maintenance programme before they can take the six-month specialized unmanned aircraft training. Over the next couple of years, Northland also hopes to attract former Northwest Airlines mechanics who already have basic skills and could go directly into the UAS programme.

The unmanned aircraft technician training is so new there’s not yet a test to certify graduates meet industry standards. Northland UAS and Aviation Chief Operating Officer Scott Fletcher said the college asked the unmanned aviation industry what should be included in the curriculum. The school also worked with an industry group, the national Center for Aerospace and Transportation Technologies, to develop standards for unmanned aircraft technicians. Fletcher said a national certification test should be ready by early next year when the first students graduate. Jobs will be waiting.

“There is a significant need for qualified maintenance technicians in the UAS arena,” he said. “Some of the manufacturers have expressed an interest in coming in to recruit our graduates. So the jobs are there.”

Source: MPR News

01-09-11, 03:48 AM
The Second European Commission UAS Panel Workshop

Posted on August 31, 2011 by Peter van Blyenburgh

On 23 June 2011 the European Commission officially announced the creation of the EC UAS Panel at the Paris Air Show. The objective of the EC UAS Panel is to produce a policy document, describing the current global UAS situation and the key challenges facing UAS development and operation in Europe. The policy document should provide concrete recommendations to policy-makers on how obstacles can be removed so as to promote the development of the UAS market in Europe.

The policy document will take civil and military UAS aspects of insertion into non-segregated airspace as well as frequency spectrum requirements into account. It will cover the entire UAS spectrum, from light UAS to HALE, irrespective of weight.

The European Commission, EUROCONTROL, EASA, industry experts, potential users and other interested stakeholders will work together on preparing for the safe use of UAS in non-segregated European airspace.

The title of the upcoming second workshop is: “UAS insertion into airspace and radio frequencies” and it will address all associated issues, including standards, international rules and radio frequency management. This workshop is the second in a series of five run jointly by the European Commission’s DG MOVE and DG ENTERPRISE on the insertion of Unmanned Aerial Systems into European controlled airspace. The overall objective of the series is to gather information on how to remove obstacles to the use of unmanned aircraft systems in Europe.

This second workshop will identify the obstacles to the insertion of UAS into non-segregated airspace and outline the requisite remedial actions. In this context, the provisional programme will cover the following topics in separate consecutive sessions: Assessment of current UAS regulatory developments; National ATM/CNS perspectives & experience; Civil/military aspects; Frequency spectrum; Security; R&D innovative solutions; the industrial perspective.

The “chef de file” (organiser) of the second workshop is Luc Tytgat, EUROCONTROL’s Director Single Sky. This workshop will take place at EUROCONTROL’s headquarters at 96 rue de la Fusée, B-1130 Brussels, Belgium (in the Europa meeting room) from 14.00 to 17.45 on 13 September and from 09.00 to 17.00 on 14 September 2011.

Written contributions for the second can be addressed to the European Commission at ENTR-UAS@ec.europa.eu . These written contributions will be used formulate the workshop Discussion Paper.

Prior registration is mandatory and can be done on-line at http://www.eurocontrol.int/content/2nd-unmanned-aircraft-systems-uas-eu-workshop-insertion-airspace-and-radio-frequencies?event_id=2498)

Additional information can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sectors/aerospace/uas/index_en.htm

Questions concerning this workshop can be addressed to: entr-uas@ec.europa.com and single.skycontact@eurocontrol.int

02-09-11, 04:22 AM
U.S. Army Awards AeroVironment $4.9 Million Contract for Switchblade Agile Munition Systems and Services

September 01 2011

• New, flexible capability for rapid response, high-precision low collateral damage strike is the result of years of development and testing

MONROVIA, Calif., Sept. 1, 2011 -- AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV) announced that it received a contract on June 29 from the U.S. Army Close Combat Weapons Systems (CCWS), Program Executive Office Missiles and Space (PEO MS). The $4,907,840 contract for the Switchblade agile munition includes engineering services and operational systems for deployment with the U.S. Army.

This award represents the culmination of years of development, testing, demonstrations and customer evaluations. The prototype Switchblade system previously received Safety Confirmation and underwent Military Utility Assessment with the U.S. Army in the fall of 2010. The award is for rapid fielding of this capability to deployed combat forces.

The Switchblade air vehicle launches from a small tube that can be carried in a backpack and transmits live color video wirelessly for display on AeroVironment’s standard small unmanned aircraft system (UAS) ground control unit. Upon confirming the target using the live video feed, the operator then sends a command to the air vehicle to arm it and lock its trajectory onto the target. Flying quietly at high speed the Switchblade delivers its onboard explosive payload with precision while minimizing collateral damage. With the ability to call off a strike even after the air vehicle is armed, Switchblade provides a level of control not available in other weapon systems.

“The unique capabilities provided by the Switchblade agile munition for standoff engagement, accuracy and controlled effects make it an ideal weapon for today’s fight and for U.S. military forces of the future,” said Bill Nichols, deputy product director at the Army’s Close Combat Weapons Systems project office.

Instead of requiring support from weapon systems controlled by other operating units, operators will be able to use the ground launched Switchblade variant to respond to enemy combatants with precision fire from a significant standoff distance, when and where required.

"Our dedicated team developed this breakthrough solution with a focus on satisfying important customer needs,” said Tom Herring, AeroVironment senior vice president and general manager of Unmanned Aircraft Systems. “Just as our small unmanned aircraft systems provide game-changing reconnaissance capabilities to ground forces, Switchblade provides a revolutionary rapid strike capability to protect our troops and give them a valuable new advantage on the battlefield.”

About AeroVironment’s Small UAS

Raven®, Wasp and Puma comprise AeroVironment’s Family of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems. Operating with a common ground control system (GCS), this Family of Systems provides increased capability to the warfighter that can give ground commanders the option of selecting the appropriate aircraft based on the type of mission to be performed. This increased capability has the potential to provide significant force protection and force multiplication benefits to small tactical units. AeroVironment’s UAS logistics operation supports systems deployed worldwide to ensure a consistently high level of operational readiness. AeroVironment has delivered thousands of new and replacement small unmanned air vehicles. International purchasers of AeroVironment’s small UAS include the armed forces of Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Norway, the Czech Republic, Thailand and Australia.

02-09-11, 07:43 AM
Rainbow Services Offers Customised UAS Pipeline Surveillance System

Posted on September 1, 2011 by The Editor

Serial entrepreneur Hans-Christian Stuber left SwissCopter AG at the end of 2010 to set up a new business at the beginning of 2011, Rainbow Services, one of the first European consultants in the field of Unmanned Aircraft Systems applications.


Today the Swiss company offers a variety of General Commercial Applications (Aerial Surveying, Pipeline Control, Power Line Inspection) as well as Homeland Security, Land Management, and Police and Fire Fighting services.

Rainbow Services has now teamed with Athens-based Aratos Technologies S.A. to provide a customised Pipeline Surveillance System which includes:

■ Image operation in different spectral bands
■ Real-Time Monitoring of the pipeline system
■ GIS system for the visualization of the pipeline system

The system uses high-resolution satellite data and processing of satellite images and/or Unmanned Aircraft Systems for real time monitoring of the pipeline system at close range. It also offers a Geographic Information System (GIS) for the visualization of the pipeline systems with the necessary Software for the processing of satellite images. It can be used to detect damage and to monitor earthquake activity.

Aratos has developed a unique GIS System which depicts the current state of the pipeline system. This GIS system consists of Digital maps of the area of interest with a Visualization of the pipeline system. It can then depict the point where a damage has taken place, create alerts and warnings and Send out alerts via SMS or e-mail.

The system receives satellite images of high resolution (1-2 m) and monitors environmental changes and current weather conditions and creates land cover maps. Image operation in different bands is essential in pipeline monitoring, so the company has also developed its own software for the processing images in different spectral bands (visible, infrared, thermal, etc.).

The system uses UAS supplied by Rainbow Services to monitor the area of interest. UAS are easily controlled and can fly at a low altitude and carry a special camera which detects areas of high temperature (e.g. in case of a leakage). The operator can use the camera in order to monitor the area from his office. UAS are today emerging as highly effective tools for confronting pipeline monitoring. Oil and gas leaks show up well in infrared because of the temperature differences between the fluid and the soil.

Advantages of the system are:

■ Development based on remote sensing techniques and satellite technologies
■ Increased probability of detection
■ Environmental benefits
■ Cost savings
■ GIS applications
■ Automated tracking of changes
■ Automatic alerts and warnings
■ Intelligent decision-taking system
■ Integrated Monitoring System
■ Combination of various technologies Reliable results
■ Easy to use by non-experts

Click to download: Pipeline Surveillance Presentation


Source: Press Release

02-09-11, 07:46 AM
ShadowHawk Approved by Homeland Security for Use in the United States

Posted on September 1, 2011 by The Editor

The Sheriff’s Office of Montgomery County, Texas was recently awarded a grant by the Department of Homeland Security for a squadron of ShadowHawks.

Montgomery County’s Chief Deputy Randy McDaniel says: “We are very excited about the funding and looking forward to placing the equipment into the field. Both my narcotics and SWAT units have been looking at numerous ways to deploy it and I absolutely believe it will become a critical component on all SWAT callouts and narcotics raids and emergency management operations.”

Source: Web Site

02-09-11, 07:51 AM
Police test drone to take over some helicopter work

By Jeff Nagel - BC Local News

Video By RCMP (see link)

Published: August 30, 2011 12:00 PM
Updated: August 31, 2011 2:23 PM


RCMP are testing an aerial drone that can hover over crash sites and crime scenes to take photos or beam video back to officers on the ground.

The remote-controlled unmanned aerial vehicle should help crash analysts get better, faster images to reconstruct what happened.

RCMP Insp. Norm Gaumont, head of traffic services in the Lower Mainland said it will allow police to reopen roads to traffic faster after crashes than when a helicopter has to be called in.

"Sometimes we absolutely need an aerial shot of the scene and we keep the road shut down longer than we need to," Gaumont said. "This fits in a suitcase and we can have it flying in minutes."

The Draganflyer X6 – built by a Saskatoon firm – costs $30,000, weighs just one kilogram and can carry either a digital still camera or a high-definition video camera.

Officers are permitted to fly it at altitudes of up to 175 feet and at speeds of up to 30 kilometres per hour.

The lower altitude means it can also get much more detailed images than helicopters.

An officer on the ground can wear video goggles and see what the drone sees.

"There are a lot of potential uses for this technology but it will not be used for any type of surveillance," Gaumont said.

Similar drones are already used by police in Saskatchewan and Ontario.

Gaumont said the RCMP here will test the unit for one year before deciding whether to buy one.

Some defence industry analysts have predicted the era of manned combat jets is ending – the U.S. F-35 fighter now in development will likely be the last new design before military drones take over entirely.

But Gaumont said he doesn't foresee that happening anytime soon with police drones shouldering aside helicopters such as Air 1.

"These things are very light and there are a lot of limitations," he said of the Draganflyer.

The testing will determine how accurate it is and how the craft performs at night or bad weather, he added.

02-09-11, 07:57 AM
Here's a couple of X6 videos from the manufacturer..............

...........both videos are from 2008.

05-09-11, 02:31 PM
DARPA Hybrid Small UAS Fuel Cell Quadruples Time On Mission

(Source: DARPA; issued September 2, 2011)

Small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) provide valuable intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities for units at the infantry company level and below, allowing over-the-next-hill imagery or short-term monitoring of convoys as an example. State-of-the-art battery power for these small UASs, however, has limited the duration of missions to about two hours.

“A small unmanned aircraft system with long-endurance capability could give the military the ability to do with a small craft what has previously been doable only with larger airframes. This has potential for tremendous cost savings – we can maintain and even improve on our UAS capabilities with a much smaller footprint and lower operating cost,” said Brian Holloway, DARPA program manager for this effort.

DARPA’s Tactical Advanced Power (TAP) program has addressed the power limitation by developing a compact solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) fueled by propane, a very high energy-density hydrocarbon fuel. DARPA researchers have also developed the Stalker XE, a small UAS powered by this fuel cell to provide extended mission endurance for more than eight hours with the reliability and ruggedness required to perform real-world missions. The Stalker XE has demonstrated an improvement of more than four times the endurance of existing state-of-the-art small unmanned aircraft systems.

The fuel cell was the basis for the hybrid power source on the Stalker XE, in which the high energy density fuel cell system was combined with a conventional lithium polymer battery to handle peak power requirements. Its high energy density hydrocarbon fuel to handle energy storage rather than a relatively low energy density battery.

The Stalker XE enables persistent surveillance operations for small units. As a 22-pound bungee-launched system, it operates without the large footprint and high cost of current tactical UAS platforms.

The enabling technology is the compact SOFC developed by DARPA for portable power applications, but the notable achievement of the Stalker XE demonstration is ruggedization of the advanced SOFC power source and integration into a fieldable platform. Stalker XE was subjected to rigorous flight-testing, where it was required to perform back-to-back flights on a single airframe and single fuel cell with turnaround times of less than 30 minutes. During these tests, the aircraft encountered wind gusts of 46 mph and sustained winds as high as 28 mph. The system also performed at altitudes of greater than 15,000 feet.

The TAP portfolio program develops advanced portable power and energy in program efforts ranging from fundamental materials and chemistry to systems engineering of mature portable power systems. The fuel cell power source in the Stalker XE was developed and matured under DARPA’s Palm Power and Robust Portable Power Sources programs. Under the TAP program, the fuel cell system was ruggedized for integration into a fieldable small UAS.

“Stalker XE is a great example of how TAP may help reduce logistical burdens, enhance mission capability and fundamentally change how the U.S. military uses power and energy,” said Holloway.


06-09-11, 01:56 PM
Boeing Demonstrates iPhone Control of Micro Air Vehicle via Internet

Posted on September 6, 2011 by The Editor

See video at link: http://www.uasvision.com/2011/09/06/boeing/#more-6895

Boeing just released this video of engineer George Windsor in a small room at a Boeing building in Seattle using an iPhone to control a small UAS that was hovering over a baseball field on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts – some 3,000 miles away. Students at MIT’s Humans and Automation Lab and researchers at Boeing Research & Technology, Boeing’s advanced, central R&D unit, are working to prove that a smart phone can be used to quickly and safely fly miniature unmanned aircraft. With support from Boeing, the MIT students have designed a prototype, easy-to-use application for would-be UAS pilots who have smart phones with wireless or cell-phone connection capability.

Named Micro Aerial Vehicle Visualization of Unexplored Environments, or MAV-VUE, the project is but a part of Boeing’s overall advanced R&D effort to assimilate new ideas and innovative processes that can benefit customers. In this case, the company is working with industry and university partners such as MIT to find and develop better, simpler ways for people to control UAS. These applications could allow UAS to be used more effectively for tasks that are dirty or dangerous, as well as for missions that may be too long and tedious to have a human be continuously at the controls.

“Imagine a soldier pulling a small, lightweight UAS out of a backpack, and then controlling it – without having to micromanage the flight behaviours of the vehicle – to see around an otherwise inaccessible spot on the battlefield,” said Joshua Downs, a human factors specialist with Boeing Research & Technology and the Boeing technical leader of the MAV-VUE project. “Or a firefighter seeking a better way to gauge how quickly a forest fire is spreading, or a rescue worker trying to more quickly find and help victims of tornadoes, earthquakes and other natural disasters. It is applications such as this that are helping to move the technology forward.

“I’ve really enjoyed being part of this research project with MIT,” Downs added. “It’s an excellent example of how Boeing is collaborating with people at top universities throughout the world, and it’s been a lot of fun, too.”

“Boeing has been a great company to work with because Boeing understands the need to do cutting-edge research,” said Missy Cummings, director of MIT’s Humans and Automation Lab. “The people at Boeing have been great at helping us frame the problem and prove the technology so that we can eventually transition it back to Boeing so that they can use it in the real world.”

Source: Boeing

06-09-11, 02:45 PM
Unmanned Reconnaissance and Target Engagement Combined – WABEP Demonstrator Flights Successfully Completed

(Source: Rheinmetall Defence; issued September 5, 2011)

The KZO reconnaissance UAV, launched from a truck, is the ‘hunter’ component of the WABEP system, while the ‘killer’ is the IAI-developed Harop drone. (Rheinmetall photo)

Rheinmetall Defence of Düsseldorf and its partner Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) have successfully tested the new WABEP system of systems. The trials focused on the reconnaissance and strike function of the WABEP, which is slated to become the Bundeswehr’s next unmanned air vehicle system.

Currently undergoing development at Rheinmetall, WABEP (which stands for "Wirksystem zur abstandsfähigen Bekämpfung von Einzel- und Punktzielen" or "Weapons system for standoff engagement of individual and point targets") consists of a Rheinmetall-made KZO unmanned reconnaissance air vehicle and a "Harop" attack drone from IAI.

The KZO, whose German initials are short for "small air vehicle for target location", is packed with high-performance sensors, enabling it to detect and identify targets; the Harop attack drone is responsible for precision engagement of the assigned target, destroying itself in the process.

The successfully executed tests mark the completion of the contractor trials. The next step in the realization of the project is a demonstration phase with Bundeswehr participation, which is being conducted at present.

During contractor test flights, the Harop attack drone and the reconnaissance and wireless data transmission components in the Rheinmetall KZO system operated in networked mode, albeit with the reconnaissance and wireless data transmission components (including the newly developed relay system) installed for testing purposes in a twin-engine Opale aircraft based on a civilian Diamond DA42.

The Harop has an extended loitering capability and can be used to engage high-value targets – reacting quickly, with extreme precision and situational flexibility. When linked with the KZO, moreover, it is possible to abort an attack mission just before impact.

During the recently conducted test flights, the exchange of tactical data, target information and sensor imagery between the two ground control stations and the Harop and KZO was successfully demonstrated for the first time in a variety of operational scenarios. In addition, the companies tested the transmission of Harop data and live videos conducted via the data relay installed on board the KZO-Opale.

The KZO detected and identified a large number of landmarks and infrastructure installations as well as stationary and moving targets, transmitting the target data to Harop via the WABEP combined system computer. The Harop was then guided to the target with the help of this data. In line with future operational protocols, final authorization for engagement of the target followed a target verification procedure conducted at both the ground control stations.


07-09-11, 03:26 AM
How Israel Cuts Sensor-to-shooter Time

Sep 6, 2011

By Alon Ben-David
Tel Aviv

With its long experience in operating a wide variety of platforms and sensors in combat, Israel now considers the need to fuse information into a coherent, real-time intelligence picture as one of its biggest tasks.

In the cyber-realm—which now has an extensive overlap with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR)—Israeli researchers realize that most information is already available, but the challenge is to detect it in real time and immediately translate it into action.

Since the dramatic success of Stuxnet (a computer worm whose authors have not been identified) in sabotaging Iran’s nuclear activity in 2010, “cyber” has become the buzzword in Israel’s intelligence community. Vast resources are being poured into the mushrooming bodies dealing with cyber—the military, *Mossad and ISA (Shin-Bet). Military Intelligence (Aman) unit 8200 (an equivalent of the U.S.’s National Security Agency) was given the monopoly on intelligence-gathering and offensive operations in the cyberworld, and it is providing those services to the other agencies.

The rapid spread of computers and mobile communications in the Middle East, reflected in the recent revolutions, has opened a world of opportunities for Israeli intelligence agencies. “Just imagine how much I can learn about you just by going through your laptop or smartphone,” says Amos Yadlin, former chief of Aman. “This could be compared to the emergence of airpower in the beginning of the 20th century, adding a new dimension of warfare.”

Recognizing that potential, Israeli industries have also diverted significant investments to developing cybertools, with Elbit Systems emerging as a leading integrator, alongside software developers such as Verint and Ness Technologies. “Gathering the information is becoming less and less a challenge,” an industry source tells Aviation Week. “It’s always there and looking at any event in retrospect; you always find you had the relevant intelligence before, but you were not aware of it. What gives you the edge is the ability to locate the relevant information from within the trillions of bytes you’re gathering in real time.”

Elbit is trying to meet this challenge with its Wise Intelligence Technology (WiT) system, which is designed to collect human, signals, imagery and open-source intelligence and translate it into a common format. Relying on that single database, WiT processes, analyses and disseminates the data as a coherent intel product.

WiT is based on Elbit’s experience with the Integrated Component-based Exploitation concept for fusing imagery from multiple sensors. Like Rafael’s Imilite, which is deployed by the German army in Afghanistan, or Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) RICent, WiT is designed to manage multi-sensor reconnaissance missions and create a single, coherent picture. But outside the traditional battlefield, especially in counter-insurgency operations, relying on imagery is simply not enough.

Leading this brand of analysis is Shin-Bet, Israel’s security agency, which began targeting individual terrorists from the air in 2001. The need to triple-verify the identity of a target convinced the agency to bring together, for the first time, signals analysts and human intelligence operators to view a common unmanned aircraft system (UAS) video feed.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) then realized that the same method could be effective against rockets and anti-tank teams located in urban areas in Lebanon and Gaza. Because the IDF operates in known arenas, it established several unified fusion centers that are capable of receiving information from all sensors and controlling any available weaponry. Their effectiveness was demonstrated during Israel’s “Cast Lead” operation in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009, where the average exposure time of a Palestinian rocket team was 90 sec. During this short time, several ISR centers, operating from the brigade level and up, were able to detect a suspected target, confirm it as hostile and direct munitions against it.

“It was completely irrelevant what munitions were used or whether they were fired from the air, ground or sea,” a brigade commander who participated in the operation tells Aviation Week. “With constant surveillance in the air and persistent intelligence gathering from all other sources, we were able to translate any intelligence into action in less than a minute in some cases.”

“Range and precision are no longer a challenge,” says another senior officer. “What we need is to be able to tell who the enemy is, preferably before they act.”

The Gaza operation underlined the need for constant surveillance above enemy territory, which was conducted mostly by UAS. Since then, the IDF has bolstered its UAS fleet, currently operating four layers of unmanned systems, soon to be five. The upper tier comprises IAI’s medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) Eitan (Heron TP). With its ability to carry multiple payloads and with a range of more than 1,000 km (620 mi.), the UAS is operated from the General Staff level. The Shoval MALE (Heron 1) UAS is mostly deployed for air force missions. The requirement to carry multiple payloads has spurred the Israeli air force to bolster its Elbit Hermes 450 (Zik) fleet with the larger Hermes 900, the first of which has been delivered to the air force. The Zik usually supports the ground battle at territorial command or division level.

At lower altitudes, the IDF equips its battalions with the Sky Rider (Elbit’s Skylark 1-LE), a 6.5-kg (14.3-lb.) UAS with 3 hr. endurance, designed to provide commanders with immediate tactical intelligence. In between the Sky Rider and the Hermes, the IDF plans to deploy the 65-kg Skylark II to provide reconnaissance at the brigade level.

As the number of UAS missions expands, industries are seeking to develop more compact, higher-performance payloads. “Today, we are already capable of using a single electro-optical payload to cover a wide area that once required 20 cameras,” says an industry source. “Our effort is to create a super-camera that will be able to serve a dozen clients with different interests at the same time.” New capabilities in hyperspectral imagery will also find their way into UAS payloads, leading them into the realm of measurements and signatures intelligence.

“The vision is to be able to direct an optical sensor on a seemingly innocent area and detect the hostiles among it even before they draw,” says an industry official. “It could be either by detecting the presence of explosives with hyperspectral imagery or locating the existence of weapons through their unique signature.”

Another effort is to develop advanced self-defense capabilities for UAS. “As the platforms are growing and, with them, the amount of payloads, they have become less expendable,” the official says. IAI is already pondering designs for the Heron 3, which will be roughly the size of the U.S.-built, jet-powered Predator C.

There also is substantial interest in mini-, micro- and nano-UAS. IAI has developed the 0.5-kg Mosquito and recently unveiled the “Ghost,” a hovering mini-UAS designed for the urban environment. Other industry players are researching the development of insect-size autonomous UAS.

However, manned ISR platforms, such as the air force’s Beechcraft B200 King Airs, are still a key capability. Equipped with El-Op Ltd.’s Advanced Multi-Sensory Payload System (AMPS), they provide high-resolution images, clearer than any UAS payload’s and at a much greater range.

The aerial sensor arsenal is designed to control an area from above. During the recent Paris air show, Elbit presented the Waaps (wide-area aerial persistent surveillance) concept, an integration of aerial and ground sensors designed to monitor an area and quickly respond to any hostility. Indeed, as Israel’s experience in Lebanon and Gaza showed, existing aerial ISR capabilities enable a quick response but can rarely prevent hostilities before they take place. During the Gaza conflict, the Israeli air force was able to destroy almost every rocket launcher that fired; but despite 2,400 strikes in 22 days, the service was not able to completely suppress rocket fire coming out of Gaza. That could only be achieved in areas where the IDF was positioned on the ground.

Recognizing that, Israel is fielding a wide swath of air and missile defense sensors to provide warning of imminent attacks and to direct the various interceptors against incoming missiles. With the Gaza and Lebanese border already covered with Rafael’s Ma’amin electro-optical detection system, the IDF began deploying the first Elta EL/M-2084 multi*mission radar. The MMRs will provide information to both the air and ground forces on any incoming threat and will support the Iron Dome and David’s Sling counter-rocket systems in their attempts to intercept the threat. Augmented by the Arrow 2’s and 3’s Green Pine radars, and by the U.S.-operated X-band AN/TPY-2 radar deployed in Israel, these systems should give full situational awareness of any ballistic threat. Cruise missiles are the only type of threat that is not covered by this alignment; however, Israel is already seeking the appropriate sensor to detect them.

Hovering above all these ground-based systems is Israel’s strategic ISR in the form of six reconnaissance satellites, providing almost constant coverage of Israel’s areas of interest—mostly Iran. The three Ofeq military satellites and the two military/civilian Eros satellites are equipped with high-resolution cameras operating in the visual range. They are augmented with the TecSar, Elta’s synthetic-aperture radar satellite, providing imagery at night and in all weather conditions.

While deficiencies in Israel’s indigenous Shavit launch vehicle brought major setbacks to the Ofeq program, IAI did succeed in building long-lasting satellites. Ofeq-5 is still functional more than nine years after launch, and its civilian twin, Eros-A, is about to mark an 11th anniversary in orbit. The unexpectedly long life span of the existing Ofeq and Eros spacecraft has prompted the Israeli defense ministry to defer the launch of the next Ofeq, which will be equipped with El-Op’s Jupiter panchromatic and multispectral camera. Instead, Israel will launch TecSar 2 in 2012, which will provide double coverage during nighttime.

Delivering all that information to the operating combat units is the final link in the ISR chain. There, Israel’s ambitious Digital Army Program (Tsayad), aimed at connecting all IDF units and platforms through a common broadband network, is beginning to mature. Several IDF divisions are already equipped with the latest version of the TORC2H C4I (command, control, communications, computers and intelligence) system, which provides commanders down to the company level an integrated battle picture of friendly and enemy forces.

“The vision—that the field commander can point to a target on his handheld machine and the fighter pilot will immediately receive the coordinates and strike—is starting to be realized,” says a senior IDF source. “Yet, there are still problems of creating common language among the services.”

Photo Credit: ELBIT

07-09-11, 03:38 AM

A Defense Technology Blog

Unmanned K-Max Completes pre-Afghan Assessment

Posted by Graham Warwick at 9/6/2011 11:50 AM CDT

The Lockheed Martin/Kaman K-Max unmanned cargo helicopter has completed a five-day "quick-reaction assessment" (QRA) at Yuma Proving Grounds to evaluate its ability to provide sustained resupply of remote Marine Corps bases if deployed to Afghanistan. No news yet on whether Boeing's A160T Hummingbird has completed its QRA*.

Video: Lockheed Martin
Uploaded by theworacle on Sep 6, 2011
The Lockheed Martin/Kaman K-Max unmanned cargo helicopter has completed a five-day quick-reaction assessment by the US Navy to determine its suitability for deployment to Afghanistan to resupply remote Marine Corps forward operating bases. The QRA was designed to assess the K-Max's ability to provide sustained resupply over several days, with Lockheed saying the two aircraft used exceeded the target of moving 30,000lb of supplies.

The QRAs are the latest step in the US Navy's plans to deploy the first unmanned resupply helicopters. Operational testers have 30 days to complete formal reports on the assessments, after which the Navy will make a decision on whether either or both of the systems are suitable for deployment.

Lockheed says, in its assessment, the K-Max exceeded the cargo-delivery objectives of the QRA, which called for 30,000lb of supplies to be delivered over the five days, using two aircraft. The company believes its system is ready for the six-month operational deployment, which is planned to begin late this year.

Photo: Lockheed Martin

*An update just in from Boeing: both A160Ts are still at its Victorville flight-test center undergoing mission-equipment integration and the company is working with the Navy "to schedule a QRA at a later date."

07-09-11, 02:13 PM
Neural Control Systems in Cyborg Insect Powered by Energy Scavenger that Generates Power from Wing Motion

Posted on September 7, 2011 by The Editor

Researchers have been working on designing and fabricating micro-air-vehicles (MAVs), flying robots the size of small insects, but always come up against the difficulty of creating a tiny, lightweight aircraft capable of carrying a payload and being powered by a long-life onboard power source. Researchers at the University of Michigan have recently stopped trying to copy real-life insects and started using the insects themselves, going a step further in removing the need for an external power source.

They have achieved this by harvesting the wing energy of an insect. The insect gets its energy from its daily food and then that energy is used by it to fly and the energy is wasted. The research team took advantage of the wasted energy by attaching piezoelectric generators to the wings of the insect.

This experiment was done on a Green June Beetle and yielded around 45 µW of energy per insect. The beetle had certain implants for controlling it brain and movement to a certain extent which was previously powered by batteries. Researchers believe that the energy generated could be increased through a direct connection to the insect’s muscles.

The researchers placed the piezoelectric cantilever beams on the wings of the insect . These devices are designed to operate at 85-105 Hz at the flapping frequency of the Green June Beetle.

There could be a further an increase in the energy harvested by using tiny solar cells on the top of the wings. This research could enable the extended operation of Micro Air Vehicles (MAV) or Cyborg. This also makes the beetle lighter and makes it capable of carrying tiny devices like camera or tracking electronics.

The detailed study can be accessed from a recent online issue of the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering : PhysOrg


Source: Crazy Engineers

07-09-11, 02:16 PM
AR.Drone: Piloting now possible on Android™

Uploaded by ARdrone on Sep 1, 2011

http://www.ardrone.com Parrot now offers AR.FreeFlight a free application on the Android Market that allows you to use the AR.Drone with an Android phone or tablet https://market.android.com/details?id=com.parrot.freeflight

Android Compatibility: http://ardrone.parrot.com/parrot-ar-drone/usa/support/android

07-09-11, 02:20 PM
French Draft Decree Relating to Specific UAS Flight Operations Published for Public Consultation

Posted on September 7, 2011 by Peter van Blyenburgh

Due to the burgeoning use of UAS all countries are going to have to adopt Civil Aviation rules for their use..........Australia please take note..................I expect to see a rapid increase in Police. SES, and other authority Users as well as Rural/farming and Resources industries users............

On 4 August 2011, the DGAC (French National Civil Aviation Authority) published the draft of two proposed decrees for public consultation: The provisions of the draft Decree concerning the design of civil aircraft which fly without anyone on board, their conditions of use and the skills required of their users relative to airworthiness, piloting, operations and the use of electromagnetic frequencies.

In the case of the provisions relating to airspace, a draft decree amends the Decree of 21 December 2009 relating to the conditions for integration into, and movements in, French airspace, of unmanned civil or military aircraft.

A table for information purposes summarizes the conditions governing the operation of unmanned aircraft, indicating the previous arrangements applicable to model aircraft flying and explaining the requirements applicable to aerial work.

Naturally, these documents were published in French.

On request of UVS International, Eurocontrol has translated these documents into English, in order to make them accessible to the wider European and international UAS community. Eurocontrol is sincerely thanked.

The English translations, as well as the original documents in French, are now posted on www.uvs-info.com where they can be found in the UAS Info section (main menu bar) – Go to the UAS-Related Documents Library – then go to the category: Regulatory Authorities – then see under the heading: DGAC-France

Comments on these documents must be supplied to the DGAC by email before 30 October 2011.

Claude Mas & Sebastien Travadel, and the review team (which included UVS France representatives), are congratulated for having produced these documents in such a short time.

08-09-11, 04:37 AM
AERIE offers new long endurance VTOL UAV

September 07, 2011

Austrian “in foundation” company "AERIE“, announces its creation within the next weeks, as well as the release of its first VTOL Long Endurance product, the “SWIFT”. That will be followed by the “DIPTERON”, a advanced version with more carry capabilities, and the “KESTREL”, a complete operation system in accordance with the customers wish within the next 3 years.

The Company wants to fill the gap on the market for Long Endurance VTOL intelligent Aircraft, starting with 24 hours using the SWIFT. “We have studied the market for years. There is a need for VTOL aircraft with long endurance in the UAV market. AERIE developed their hybrid technology for that need and is now getting into this market” says Johannes Reiter, CEO of the company. “We come from aviation and know what’s going on”. The team has experience in certification of General Aviation Aircaft and propulsion systems. It developed a high value hybrid combination between the most efficient vertical aircraft, the helicopter, with the most efficient cruise configuration, a high wing span aircraft, like a high altitude fixed wing observer.

AERIE uses the same wings for hover and flight. This makes the SWIFT a very light weight VTOL with full abilities in both operation modes (hover and cruise).

Their team is also experienced in servicing and certifyication of airborne observing systems, and has a partner for processing airborne complex data.

Source: AERIE

08-09-11, 04:28 PM
U.S. Navy Goes Ahead With Bell Fire Scout UAV

Sep 8, 2011

By Graham Warwick

The U.S. Navy is to award Northrop Grumman a contract to supply 28 MQ-8C Fire Scout “rapid deployment capability” (RDC) vertical-takeoff-and-landing unmanned aircraft using the larger Bell 407 helicopter airframe to increase endurance and payload.

The notice of intent says the RDC aircraft are to be fielded by the first quarter of 2014 to meet an urgent operational requirement. The Navy has said the “endurance upgrade” Fire Scout is needed to support special operations.

After also evaluating the Boeing A160T Hummingbird and Lockheed Martin/Kaman unmanned K-Max, the Navy has adopted the 407 airframe jointly developed by Northrop Grumman and Bell as the Fire-X and first flown in December. The 407-based MQ-8C will use the same unmanned systems as the MQ-8B, which is on the smaller Schweizer 333 helicopter airframe, including the existing ship-installed ground control station, data links and automatic recovery system.

The choice follows the recommendation of the Fire Scout program office. Last month, Capt. Patrick Smith, the Navy’s Fire Scout program manager, said the recommendation of the 407 airframe was “based on the time frame limitations” imposed by the urgent operational requirement to develop the MQ-8C within 24 months, for deployment in 2014 (Aerospace DAILY, Aug. 19).

Photo: Northrop Grumman

09-09-11, 03:19 AM
New Aerial Camera Platform from Coptermotion

Posted on September 8, 2011 by The Editor

Superb quality, high definition pics/video, best I've seen from a small rotor UAV like this................great potential for LE and Homeland defence use.............

Belgian company Coptermotion unveils its VTOL miniature quadricopter designed especially for professional aerial video purposes and photographers. The Coptermotion design utilises eight main brushless electric engines which allows the aircraft to hover extremely steady in high wind turbulent conditions. The manoeuvrability is unsurpassed by using differential thrust.

The thrust provides 216 Newton lifting power (22 kg = 48.4 lbs), enabling Coptermotion to carry heavier, more intelligent, advanced payloads. The ease of control comes first and gives everyone with a little training the opportunity to steer the helicopter. There is little or no prior knowledge required to be airborne in no time. Sensors ensure that the aircraft will remain stable at all times.

The craft can carry high quality digital DSLR cameras such as canon 5D Mark II or 7D and various 1080p video cameras. It can be carried as normal baggage providing for easy transportation. Everything comes packed in a strong flight case with room for base station, Helicopter, 10 batteries, cables, chargers, camera, spare propellers, etc…

The base station intelligent control monitors all the micro processors onboard of the aircraft and provides an OSD (On screen Display) of all telemetry needed to keep track of all essential data. Height, distance, battery status, flight heading, climb rate, latitude-longitude, etc…, is displayed on top of the live video.

The pilot is totally in control. Four intuitive control buttons make it real easy to control the helicopter while remaining full control of the camera movement at the same time, this saves you a second operator and is a real money saving feature. One pilot can easily control both the movement of the aircraft and change camera options. Nine buttons are at your disposal to control any camera setting you want.

Changing diaphragm, ISO values, shutter-speed, record on/off, etc….is all done by the press of a button.The long endurance base station (optional) provides a crystal clear live video feed without any disturbance, flicker or noise.

The video out can be used for a live display on a second monitor, projection screen video goggles or any output that suit your needs. A mobile wireless video receivers provide possibilities to connect to any output of choice. Full HD 1080p zero delay video transmission (optional) is offered to companies wishing to have sports events live broadcasted with a video-feed in excellent quality.

Onboard sensors: 1 barometric pressure sensor, 13 IC current sensors, 3 accelerometers roll-pitch-yaw(X,Y,Z), 3 gyros, 3 MAG (magnetometers), 8 thermometers, 1 GPS module, optical out sensor for video, flight controller, AHPS (altitude hold and positioning system)

Source: Press Release

09-09-11, 05:43 PM
Australian UAS Distributors Pitch to Farmers

Posted on September 9, 2011 by The Editor

Liam Quigley with Yamaha Rmax

Australian UAS distributors continue to pitch to farmers with flying demonstrations of the latest hardware attracting rural interest at a Marburg field day just west of Brisbane. The deployment of these systems is well documented by the military but the spotlight is now focusing on their relevance to agricultural and horticultural industries where they are poised to become more commonplace down-the-track. Interestingly, Yamaha’s unmanned RMax helicopters buck this trend with the company liaising with the Japanese government to come up with a new way of managing small acreage farms in response to concerns about the country’s ageing rural population.

Such has been the interest in these machines that some 2,400 units are currently operating in the country, according to Yamaha’s (Sky Division) business development manager, Liam Quigley. “Australia is the first major market outside of Japan,” he said. “Applications here will be for ag spraying, also weed control – which will be the big one since the concentration of chemical can be a lot higher, making it a lot more effective,” he added.

As well, the Rmax’s ability to perform in “dirty, dumb and dangerous” situations likely to endanger the life of a pilot looks to be one of its biggest appeals – especially when operating near low-slung power lines.

Yamaha expects interest in Australia to centre on small, steep acreages, also difficult access situations followed by tree crops and coastal spraying programmes. Contractors almost certainly will rent the helicopters from Yamaha since they will be better-placed to maximise their use throughout the year.

Top of mind questions to date have centered on the helicopter’s payload (28kg), also how potential users can access the technology with an on-board GPS ensuring the helicopter can precisely target specific locations. “In terms of cost to run, you are looking at about six litres of two-stroke (fuel) an hour which is pretty spectacular when compared with a manned helicopter,” Liam Quigley said.

COMMENT: By any yardstick this precision engineered Rmax robotic helicopter looks the full-quid with the hand held controls able to direct the unit both forward and rearward across a paddock with pinpoint accuracy.

V-TOL's Peter Hill with Warrigal

Meanwhile, V-TOL Aerospace’s delta-winged Warrigal is an unmanned aircraft which is designed and manufactured in Brisbane, weighing in at just 2kg. From a rural perspective, it is attracting interest for its ability to carry miniaturised high resolution video, colour and multi-spectral camera payloads. It is able to take video and high-res still images of crops, terrain and livestock. “We are very happy with its performance to date,” director UAS programmes, Peter Hill said. “This class of UAS is going to be widespread with over 15,000 of these small scale units operating in the US military.”

The point being made here is that a lot of the technology suitable for this platform can be sourced “off-the-shelf” from the computer and mobile phone industries. “This aircraft is at a stage it can be put into a suitcase in the back of a 4WD, making it suitable for widespread use with non-aviation people,” Peter Hill said.

Currently operating with an electric plant, V-TOL says it researching solar and hydrogen fuel cells with University of Queensland. “The sensors are getting smaller and more powerful and with the NBN network roll out it will quite possible for our UAV to be flown in the Northern Territory but be controlled from Brisbane,” Peter Hill said.

Look out for the Warrigal’s multispectral camera which will come into its own by being able to make and analysis of crop canopy, weeds, also assessing the build up of vegetative fuel ahead of the fire season.

COMMENT: Operating at about 30 kph, the Warrigal swooped over and around the field day demonstrating its impressive agility. A plus point looks to be its robust, foam-like construction able to withstand the rigours associated with many farming operations.

Mark D'Alterio with Air Robot

While the sci-fi-looking Air Robot attracted the attention of a visiting Queensland Police service representative, there’s no doubt the addition of an ever-burgeoning array of specialist sensors could further broaden its appeal. Company representative Leo King talked up the whisper quiet qualities of its four electrically-powered engines, also the tailor-made aspect of its construction which sees each unit built to meet an individual customer’s preferred specification within six weeks.

COMMENT: The Air Robot is another example of how UAS technology is continuing to emerge at an ever-accelerating rate. Its real-time full motion video with separate data link attracted immense interest on the day, as did its operational stability.

Source: The Land


12-09-11, 09:58 PM
Next Step for Armed, Thinking Drones: New Laws

By David Axe

Published: September 9, 2011

On Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. military possessed just handful of robot aircraft. Today, the Air Force alone operates more than 50 drone "orbits," each composed of four Predator or Reaper aircraft plus their ground-based control systems and human operators. Smaller Navy, Marine and Army drones number in the thousands.

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Since they do not need to provide the oxygen, avionics and other equipment a pilot needs, drones can fly longer, for less, than most manned planes. And that's not all. "Unmanned systems are machines that operate under a 'sense,' 'think,' 'act' paradigm," wrote Peter Singer, a Brookings Institution analyst and author of Wired for War. In other words, drones can, in theory, pile their own intelligence and initiative onto that of their human masters.

Unmanned Aerial Systems are arguably the defining weapon of the post-9/11 era of warfare -- and have enjoyed investment commensurate with their status: no less than $25 billion annually, year after year and continuing. The coming decade could see even more profound drone development as technology and acceptance reach critical mass. "Automation is key to increasing effects, while potentially reducing cost, forward footprint and risk," then-Col. Eric Mathewson wrote in the Air Force's 2009 UAS Flight Plan.

But there's an artificial limit on this potential. It's not technology or even funding that really constrains robotic warplane development. Rather, it's the willingness of human beings to surrender increasing degrees of control to mobile, lethal, thinking machines whose autonomy may mean they fall outside existing law. Trust and accountability are holding back our robots.

Autonomous UAS and human warriors all make mistakes. Missions fail. Innocents get hurt or die. When a person screws up, he's tried and punished if guilty. Justice is served. You can't, however, take a robot to court.

So who would be at fault following an errant drone strike? The programmer of the robot's targeting software? The commanding officer of the UAS squadron? The regional combatant commander?

"For now, our laws are simply silent on whether autonomous robots can be armed with lethal weapons," Singer wrote. "We therefore must either enact a ban on such systems soon or start to develop some legal answers for how to deal with them."

At this point, a ban is unthinkable. "You have an entire generation of young troops and officers who have gone from not using robots to not contemplating going out on an operation without one," Singer told AOL Defense. A legal solution is the only viable way forward, the sooner the better.

Singer proposed a flexible legal regime. "If a programmer gets an entire village blown up by mistake, he should be criminally prosecuted ... Similarly, if some future commander deploys an autonomous robot and it turns out that the commands or programs he authorized the robot to operate under somehow contributed to a violation of the laws of war ... then it is proper to hold the commander responsible."

New laws can't happen fast enough. Every day the X-47 inches closer to its first carrier landing. Boeing, meanwhile, has revived the basic X-45 design as the larger, more powerful Phantom Ray. It flew for the first time in April. Other advanced drone designs include General Atomics' Avenger and the RQ-170 built by Lockheed Martin. All could benefit from more autonomy.

'Bots on a short leash

The Predator and its larger cousin the Reaper, both built by General Atomics, are hands-on robots -- "Remotely-Piloted Aircraft," to use the Air Force's term. Their every movement is steered by teams of pilots sitting in trailers at the aircraft's launch site and at Air Force and CIA bases in the U.S. and allied nations. A mix of satellite and line-of-sight signals connects the pilots to their robots and beams back images of what the drones "see"; commands to fire missiles or drop bombs are issued by humans. In short, the Predator and Reaper do very little thinking on their own.

In the early years of armed drones, there was a good reason for this. "The sophistication of the human thinking process and the human sensors have yet to be replicated by a computer," David Vesely, a retired Air Force lieutenant general, said in 2006.

But around the time Vesely spoke those words, engineers at Boeing were discovering that the latest sensors, processors and algorithms perhaps could produce robotic warplanes with nearly human-like thinking processes. These improved drones wouldn't be fully autonomous, as they would still require a human being to feed them mission parameters before a flight. But they would be much more autonomous than any Predator or Reaper. Once airborne, they'd be mostly on their own.

The newer generation of drones would match Singer's definition of a robot warrior. "They carry sensors that gather information about the world around them, processors that use that information to make appropriate decisions and effectors that act to create change in the world around the machine, such as by movement or firing a weapon."

Boeing's work on drone autonomy began back in the late 1990s but found its best application in the on-again, off-again X-45 initiative. The jet-powered, flying-wing X-45 was originally an experimental Air Force program aimed at producing a pilot-less bomber. Paired with Northrop Grumman's similar X-47 program, the X-45 passed to the fringe-science Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in 2003 and got canceled less than three years later.

Amid these programmatic upheavals, the X-45 managed to fly around 50 test missions, and proved it could steer itself into defended territory, identify targets and fire weapons, all without human intervention. "The main issue we always ran into was that no one trusted it," a Boeing engineer who worked on the X-45 told AOL Defense, on condition of anonymity. "If a UAV is nearly fully autonomous and puts a bomb on a school bus and not a supply truck, who gets held up for the penalty?"

To this day, that same mistrust prompts program officials to include high degrees of human intervention in robotic systems -- and that can seriously degrade performance. In 2009, Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Missy Cummings devised an experiment that tasked a human operator with coordinating large numbers of highly autonomous UAS.

Cummings found that the drones' effectiveness increased as human intervention decreased. "Poor performance was exacerbated by a lack of operator consensus to consider a new plan when prompted by the automation, as well as negative attitudes towards Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in general."

If you love something, set it free

Northrop's X-47 is the natural result of this imbalance between performance and human control. The bat-shaped 'bot survived its tenure at DARPA and transferred to the Navy for the $1-billion Unmanned Carrier Air System Demonstration program, which aims to fly a robotic warplane off a carrier deck in 2013. The X-47 could form the basis of the world's first armed, jet-powered, fighter-class robot warplane, and a possible centerpiece system for the next decade of UAS. But in its current form, the X-47 is badly handicapped by concerns over accountability.

The current X-47B can be highly autonomous, but also includes a redundant "man in the loop." Northrop's "air-ship interface" includes radio links and algorithms allowing a carrier and an X-47B to communicate with each other. The carrier steers the drone through crowded airspace and can even guide it in for a deck landing while the operator watches, poised to override the machine-to-machine planning. In July, Northrop successfully tested this system using the USS Eisenhower and a manned F/A-18D surrogate plane.

The air-ship interface is just one facet of the X-47B's autonomy. Elsewhere across its mission profile, the drone does not need human guidance, but waits for it anyways. "Even though it's possible for a UAS to find a target, identify it and give those coordinates electronically to a weapon, it won't do that unless it's told to," Carl Johnson, a Northrop vice president, told AOL Defense. "The technology is there, but there is still a need for a human in the loop."

Reducing the human's role could mean a freer and more effective X-47 and, by extension, a far more powerful future drone air force. But that can't happen without a legal consensus regarding robot accountability.

The first decade after 9/11 proved that drones and people can make powerful teams. The second decade could see robots proving their worth all on their own. But only if we can hold them -- that is, someone who controls them -- accountable.

13-09-11, 03:25 AM
Music Links Mulitple Assets

Sep 12, 2011

By Richard Whittle

The evolving future of U.S. Army aviation will be on display Sept. 15-16 at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, as three of the service’s project offices—Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Apache Attack Helicopter and Armed Scout Helicopter—stage an exercise demonstrating how manned and unmanned aircraft can work together in combat. The Army calls the exercise Music, for Manned-Unmanned Systems Integration Capability.

“Music is intended to be a showcase for innovation, integration and ultimately interoperability,” says Tim Owings, deputy project manager of Unmanned Aircraft Systems for the Army.

The exercise, expected to be the first in a series of Music demonstrations, will focus on new ways of moving intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting imagery among manned and unmanned aircraft and ground forces. It will feature six types of manned and unmanned aircraft that will exchange imagery with each other and ground troops, using it to coordinate attacks on mock targets. Music will demonstrate four capabilities the Army is developing to get the most out of new unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV):

• A Universal Ground Control Station (UGCS), from which UAV operators can fly and operate the sensors of any of the Army’s three largest UAVs: the MQ-1C Gray Eagle, a 3,200‑lb. maximum gross weight aircraft from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc.; the 380-lb. MQ-5B Hunter from Northrop Grumman Corp.; and the 4.2-lb. hand-launched RQ‑7B Shadow from AAI Corp. “This will be the first time that we’re proving out our UGCS where one ground station has all the software loaded to fly our large platforms,” notes Michelle Vigo, lead planner for Music.

• A mini-UGCS, which will let operators control the Army’s small UAVs—the RQ-11B Raven, Puma and, when it becomes available, Wasp, all built by AeroVironment.

• A one system remote video terminal with bidirectional antenna and data link that will use software developed by Kutta Tech of Phoenix. The bidirectional link will allow ground troops to take control of a sensor aboard a UAV and point it where they want to look, rather than trying to direct a UAV sensor operator to the target.

• Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T), in which manned helicopter crews will control UAVs and their sensor payloads. Music will include demonstrations of MUM-T at three of four levels of interoperability defined by the Army. The pilot of a Boeing AH‑64D Apache Block III attack helicopter, a version of the aircraft not yet in service, will maneuver an unmanned aircraft in flight, a Level 4 capability. An AH-64D Block II, the latest operational version of the Apache, will receive video from a UAV, a Level 2 capability already being fielded to Apache units preparing to deploy. A Bell Helicopter Textron OH‑58D Kiowa Warrior scout helicopter, meanwhile, will demonstrate another Level 2 capability by receiving video from a UAV and retransmitting it to the ground. The relay increases the range at which troops can receive the video.

Music will mark the first U.S. demonstration of the Army’s new Triclops system, in which three sensor balls are carried on one Gray Eagle UAV (DTI March, p. 21). The exercise will also demonstrate for the first time how manned and unmanned aircraft operate under a single commander.

“Music is a showcase for what we’re doing with the Army and the Marine Corps as well, because most of these systems we’re talking about are used by the Marines,” Owings says.

Once fielded, the new capabilities being demonstrated should pay many dividends in combat, Owings adds, but will all center on one key point—sharing information. Most of the information exchanges being demonstrated at Music have been handled by voice communications, he notes. Once the new systems are fielded, a soldier in a convoy will no longer have to try to explain to an Apache pilot—or a UAV operator— which white truck they should investigate or attack.

The first day of Music will be a media day, where reporters will be able to watch on a large video screen and listen inside a hangar as pilots, UAV operators and ground troops exchange sensor imagery while performing tactical vignettes, including live fire by a Kiowa Warrior. Guests invited for similar demonstrations the second day include Army and Pentagon leaders, staff and members of Congress, as well as other VIPs.

Photo: US Army

13-09-11, 05:26 AM
US Navy Prepares RFP for Unmanned Helicopter Requirements

Posted on September 12, 2011 by The Editor

The US Navy has outlined the details of a 15-month competition to start later this month to select an unmanned helicopter that could be purchased in the hundreds by the end of this decade. The medium-range, multi-role unmanned aircraft system (MRMUAS) contract has already drawn interest from at least three bidders.

Likely competitors include the Boeing A160 Hummingbird and the Northrop Grumman/Bell Helicopter MQ-8C Fire-X, which is an unmanned version of the Bell 407. US-based Lockheed Martin also last month confirmed plans to compete for the MRMUAS contract. Its options include a new version Kaman K-Max with long-endurance, or perhaps an all-new design developed by the Advanced Development Programs unit, also known as Skunk Works.

The Navy plans to start the earliest phase of the competition later this month with the release of a request for proposals (RFP), according to a presentation to industry posted online on 6 September.

The RFP will lead to awards for study contracts to multiple bidders to help the service refine its expectations for the new unmanned helicopter. The study phase is scheduled to complete in January 2013. A competition to win the contract to develop the MRMUAS helicopter would begin the following month.

The Navy plans to stand up the first operational unit in fiscal year 2019, although a “limited” capability could be fielded three years earlier.

The requirement was established by the US Special Operations Command in June 2009. That was two months after a Navy SEAL team was called on to engage Somali pirates holding the American Captain of the Maersk Alabama shipping vessel as a hostage. The SEALs’ snipers killed the pirates, but only after a long stand-off in the Indian Ocean.

The MRMUAS helicopters are part of an $8.2 billion investment by the Navy over the next decade in four different families of unmanned aircraft systems dedicated to the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission. The same aircraft could also be selected by the US Army to replace the cancelled MQ-8B Fire Scout as a vertical take-off unmanned air system.

The Navy wants the MRMUAS fleet to fly missions lasting up to 8 hours and at least 555 km (300nm) from the ship. Each aircraft would be deployed with a suite of sensor payloads, including full-motion video, electronic warfare and radar. A precision strike capability is also listed under the MRMUAS “capability needs”.

Source: Flight Global

13-09-11, 11:00 AM


DSEi: Cassidian boss calls for action on Talarion

By Craig Hoyle

Germany could be within weeks of making a decision which will have a major influence on the viability of Cassidian’s Talarion unmanned air system (UAS) programme, while the EADS company is maintaining its call for France and the UK to also become involved.

A long-proposed solution for the UAS requirements of France, Germany and Spain, Talarion has already attracted the interest of the Turkish defence ministry and industry, and from Madrid. However, no concrete financial commitment has been made to the initiative so far from potential operators.

© Cassidian

“Germany is about to make up its mind,” Cassidian chief executive Dr Stefan Zoller said on the eve of the Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEi) exhibition in London on 12 September. Its decision could be pivotal to the Talarion’s future success, with procurement budgets tight and France is considering its equipment options under the terms of a defence treaty with the UK, with BAE Systems and Dassault offering the Telemos.

With Cassidian continuing to fund risk-reduction activities using its own money, finding a solution is of growing importance to the company, which has already spent around €500 million ($684 million) in pursuing Europe’s medium-altitude, long-endurance UAS requirements. The company earlier this year outlined a goal to secure around €300 million from backers to complete risk-reduction work and fly a prototype by around 2015.

“There is no deadline [for company funding to end], but I hope that the decisions are imminent,” Zoller said. “I can hardly see a solution where two nations can do it on their own, or three nations. Either we run a fully European programme, or we are out of the game.”

Repeating past warnings about the pace of progress in European collaboration in the unmanned sector, he added: “We are losing momentum in key areas, while playing tactically here and there.”

Despite its current frustration in Europe, Cassidian is unable to go to nations beyond the continent to offer participation in the continued development of the Talarion, due to the constraints imposed on the sale of such systems under the international Missile Technology Control Regime.

Separately, Cassidian has begun adjusting to a new operating model. Introduced on 1 August, this sees the company focussing its attention largely on 10 countries viewed as being of particular strategic importance across its multiple business sectors.

While this is initially a challenging shift, Zoller points to EADS’s decade-long focus on multi-national integration. “No other company had the experience of the last 10 years of bridging nations and cultures in Europe,” he said. “That should pave the way to accelerate on the global set-up.”

13-09-11, 11:18 AM
EADS won't join French-British 'Telemos' drone project

BERLIN, Sept 8 | Thu Sep 8, 2011 10:03am EDT

EADS announcements are all about market position. The problem is it could quite easily be left with no market at all..........and saying its 5 years ahead of anyone else is BS, crapola of the first order...............

BERLIN, Sept 8 (Reuters) - European aerospace conglomerate EADS will not take part in the French-British "Telemos" drone program, which it is competing against with its own drone "Talarion", a spokesman said on Thursday.

"We are prepared to compete with Talarion... which is five years of work ahead of any European competitor, the spokesman said when asked if EADS would join the joint project between the UK's BAE Systems and France's Dassault Aviation. (Reporting by Sabine Siebold, writing by Brian Rohan)

13-09-11, 11:19 AM
Aerie Announces 24 Hour Endurance VTOL UAS

Posted on September 13, 2011 by The Editor

Austrian company Aerie has announced its first VTOL Long Endurance unmanned aircraft system, the Swift. The Company intends to fill the gap in the market for Long Endurance VTOL intelligent Aircraft, starting with the Swift which has an endurance of 24 hours. “We have studied the market for years. There is a need for VTOL aircraft with long endurance in the UAS market. Aerie has developed its own hybrid technology for that need and is now getting into this market” says Johannes Reiter, CEO of the company. “We come from aviation and know what’s going on”.

The team has experience in certification of General Aviation Aircraft and propulsion systems. It has developed a high value hybrid combination between the most efficient vertical aircraft, the helicopter, with the most efficient cruise configuration, a high wing span aircraft, like a high altitude fixed wing observer.

Aerie uses the same wings for hover and flight. This makes the Swift a very light weight VTOL with full abilities in both operation modes (hover and cruise).

The company plans to follow the swift with the “Dipteron”, a advanced version with more carrying capabilities, and the “Kestrel”, a complete customised operation system which will be available within the next 3 years.

The company’s web-site is still ‘under construction’, but does feature a short video of the Swift at the beginning of an outdoor trial.

The team is also experienced in servicing and certification of airborne observation systems, and has a partner for processing airborne complex data.

More information on the company’s products can be seen here: Aerie_Data_Sheet


Source: Press Release

13-09-11, 11:21 AM
More About Turkey’s Need for UAS

Posted on September 13, 2011 by The Editor

Following Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s complaint last week that Israel delayed the delivery of Herons that Turkey sent to the country for maintenance, a new report revealed that Turkey has been dealing with Israel on maintenance issues for a long time. Ankara purchased three Aerostars from Israeli company Aeronautics in 2008. Aerostars, which are be able reach an altitude of 18,000 feet (5,486 meters) and travel up to 100 kilometers per hour, are also able to relay images to a command center 200 kilometers away. However, all three Aerostars crashed during operations, which rendered them unusable.

As for Heron drones, Turkey purchased ten Herons from Israel in a 2004 tender costing about $183 million. However, the Herons received were not able to reach the altitudes indicated in the contract. Israel delivered the Herons last year and Turkish army officers started to fly them after Israeli technical personnel left Turkey following the diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Israel.

Sources said that two of the Herons are unusable and the other three have engine problems. Five Herons are currently in Israel undergoing repairs.

As Turkey is experiencing problems with UAS purchased from Israel, the country last year unveiled its own UAS, ANKA, a surveillance aircraft able to fly 24 hours at a time. However, ANKA is not expected to fly until 2012.

Source: Today’s Zaman

13-09-11, 03:24 PM

SOURCE:Flight International

DSEi: Scout mini UAS offers instant ISTAR capability

By Dominic Perry

UK firm Malborough Communications is demonstrating the Aeryon Scout vertical take-off and landing mini-unmanned air system (UAS) at London's Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEi) exhibition.

The 1.2kg (2.6lb) quad-rotor mini-UAS, designed and manufactured in Canada, has recently seen service with the Libyan rebels.

The Scout has been designed as a highly portable system for use by dismounted infantry or special forces personnel, said Mark Harbin, C4ISTAR and sensors capability manager at Malborough.

"If troops are preparing for a compound raid or similar then they have got an immediate ISTAR [intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance] capability available to them without the need to bring larger, more costly systems on station," he added.

Initially fitted with an Aeryon daylight stills camera and a FLIR Systems night camera as standard, the Scout was upgraded in May with an optional 10x optical zoom video camera.

If communications are interrupted between the base station and the UAS it will land autonomously, said Harbin.

In addition if the vehicle crashes or loses power, the base station can be used to track it.

Although the manufacturer specifies a maximum windspeed of 50km/h, it has been tested in gusts of up to 86km/h, he added.

The UAS can be assembled in about 80s, and has an endurance of 20min. Its payload is listed as 400g, with maximum altitude pegged at 1,640ft (500m).

14-09-11, 03:21 AM

SOURCE:Flight International

DSEi: Northrop launches HART UAV data management

By Dominic Perry

Northrop Grumman has introduced an unmanned air vehicle data management system to the European market, to allow troops on the ground to "eliminate the tunnel-vision of the battlefield".

The HART (heterogenous airborne reconnaissance team) allows soldiers at small unit level without their own UAV to benefit from the plethora of assets overflying the battlespace.

Tim Beard, deputy director of advanced concepts at Northrop Grumman Aerospace, said: "We have got a lot of UAVs in the air, but no-one has created a system so that everyone can share the data."

A unit leader simply sends a request for imagery to the tactical operations centre, which then prioritises the request.

The HART system then selects the most relevant imagery or the nearest UAV, and the image is geolinked and sent back to the unit leader.

In some cases HART could take over a UAV and fly it to the correct location, although Northrop conceded this will not be required by all customers.

So far, nine UAV platforms and one piloted aircraft - the Beechcraft C-12 Huron - have been integrated into the HART system.

A further three - General Atomics' Gray Eagle and Northrop's Global Hawk and Fire Scout - are pending.

HART has been trialled by the US Army and US Marines, with the programme led by the Air Force Research Laboratory.

14-09-11, 05:50 AM
Tuesday, September 13, 2011, 11:26 PM

The new one man UAV iSTART from BlueBear unveils at DSEI 2011.

At DSEI 2011 the British Company BlueBear unveils a new one man portable UAV, the IStart. The iStart system is all about getting the right sensors to the right place at the right time.

iStart new one man UAV Unmanned Aerial Vehicle at DSEI 2011

With an endurance of 40 minutes you can keep it where you need it. You don't need to be a pilot - just tell the system where it needs to go, and point the sensor where you want it to look. (or optionally steer it).


The iSTART system support a range of sensors including optical and IR cameras.


Operating iSTART system couldn't be easier. Prime the vehicle with a rechargeable battery start it up and throw. Mission planning is via a simple point and click interface. A full motion video feed is available as soon as the vehicle boots up. The system requires no direct human piloting from launch to landing.


The systems small footprint makes it highly mobile and can be deployed by a one man team.

IStart UAV can be deployed by a one man team

14-09-11, 03:04 PM
DSEi 2011: Lockheed Martin readies Desert Hawk for US experiment

September 14, 2011

Lockheed Martin is moving its Desert Hawk SUAS further into the US marketplace as it prepares to take part in a US Army warfighter experiment.

The Desert Hawk, and its smaller counterpart the Night Hawk, are to take part in the three week Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE) ran by the army's manoeuvrability warfighting lab in October, Bill Daly, business development manager of unmanned aircraft systems for Lockheed Martin told Shephard at the DSEi conference in London on 14 September.

As the company waits for the results of the Empire challenge, an experiment ran by the UK MoD earlier this year, it finished training last week in preparation for the AEWE.

The experiment involves US soldiers being trained to use some 80 systems in an effort to test the usability of them by previously untrained users, and each system will be tested by 6-9 infantrymen.

The exercise is to be held at Fort Benning, Georgia, and after receiving 'positive feedback' from the AEWE last year, the company is to now also take the Night Hawk, as well as advanced capabilities on the Desert Hawk, such as advancements on its geo-location.

In last year's experiment, the high winds forced many tested systems to be grounded but, according to Daly, the Desert Hawk's capability to fly in these conditions aided it in completing the testing.

The Desert Hawk is deployed with UK troops, and the company continues to support the MoD through ongoing research and development.

Although it is moving to extend into other markets, Daly clarified the company's intentions: 'We don't necessarily look to replace the workhorse of any armed force', but are instead looking to fill capability gaps.

Lockheed Martin is also looking into the development of a common GCS for all of its UAS, including the Samarai, a hovering system designed for urban missions, introduced a year ago.

Meanwhile, the company said it is 'probable' that it will enter a bid for the MALE UAV Anglo-French bid when an RFI is released by the governments.

Beth Stevenson, London

14-09-11, 03:08 PM
QinetiQ, Northrop Grumman produce novel, proven and cost-effective VTUAS solution for Royal Navy

British Army Air Corps Gazelle helicopters.

16:11 GMT, September 13, 2011 Faced with lean budgets and an increasingly complex and dangerous defence and security environment, the UK urgently needs to be able to continue to produce clever, robust solutions for less money.

One such area where an innovative, affordable solution may one day unseat more expensive technology programmes falls within the Royal Navy’s ability to provide superior persistent Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR).

QinetiQ and Northrop Grumman believe that they have identified a reliable, cost-effective Vertical Take-Off Unmanned Air System (VTUAS) capability that could form the basis for a radical change in the conduct of maritime patrol and war-fighting operations by the Royal Navy.

This is the view of Jeremy Howitt, QinetiQ's Assistant Technical Director with the company's Air Engineering Group, who has announced an intention to integrate the Northrop Grumman Fire Scout Vehicle Management System (VMS) into the Gazelle helicopter to create a UK VTUAS capability at this year's DSEi exhibition.

Mr Howitt says that the conversion of a Gazelle into a VTUAS platform compares to the Northrop Grumman Fire-X conversion of the Bell 407, which has recently been approved by the US Navy with plans to acquire 28 air vehicles for deployment from 2014.

“There are many VTUAS on the market, from model-scale vehicles up to full-scale helicopters and with an equally wide range of capabilities, but currently only the Fire Scout is operating from ships and delivering military effect on a regular basis,” says Mr Howitt.

The Northrop Grumman Fire Scout is the world's first and currently only shipborne VTUAS and is proving to be an extremely valuable persistent ISR platform for the US Navy in the Gulf, Afghanistan and Libya. Indeed, so successful has the Fire Scout been that the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead, speaking at this year’s AUVSI Unmanned Systems Symposium and Exhibition, said: “With our Fire Scout unmanned helicopter, we deployed that two years ahead of its initial operating capability date. Although that system for the Navy was procured to operate off of our ships, it is operating ashore in Afghanistan and there is an additional demand for more Fire Scouts to support operations there.”

The recommended UK platform for the Fire Scout conversion, the Gazelle, is a highly respected and reliable helicopter which is currently flown by the British Army Air Corps. It is recognised that the Gazelle is a short-term solution, but it provides an extremely cost effective way for the Royal Navy to gain valuable, early operational experience with a VTUAS with a view to re-hosting the system in a more capable airframe as part of the Future Force 2020. The conversion of a Gazelle into a VTUAS platform would take place at MOD Boscombe Down, which is run and managed by QinetiQ, while the flight test work for the demonstrator programme would be conducted at the QinetiQ West Wales UAV Centre.

“The Royal Navy has a number of capability gaps in the ISR arena, which can be significantly improved by an affordable shipborne VTUAS solution that brings together the highly successful Fire Scout capability, while leveraging the proven reliability and low cost of the Gazelle,” says Mr Howitt, who also led QinetiQ's flight trials programme with the T4 Vectored-thrust Aircraft Advanced Control (VAAC) Harrier to provide risk reduction for the F-35B Lightning II STOVL aircraft.

The conversion and subsequent demonstrator programme has the full support of Northrop Grumman. Scott Winship, Vice President, Advanced Concepts Air and Land, Northrop Grumman, said: “Unmanned air systems have demonstrated their increasing operational utility in recent years, particularly when enabled by advances in satellite guidance and communications, computerised flight control systems, and new sensor technologies. The introduction of VTUAS capabilities takes this journey to an exciting new level and as such Northrop Grumman is pleased to support QinetiQ in the development of a Vertical Take-Off UAS for the Royal Navy.”

A FTSE250 company, QinetiQ uses its domain knowledge to provide technical support and know-how to customers in the global aerospace, defence and security markets. QinetiQ's unique position enables it to be a trusted partner to government organisations, predominantly in the UK and the US, including defence departments, intelligence services and security agencies.

15-09-11, 02:47 AM
UAV Bolsters German Deployment

Sep 14, 2011

By Nicholas Fiorenza
Bad Godesberg, Germany

The Luftwaffe’s Heron 1 medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has been operating over Afghanistan for 18 months, and has been fully operational since May. Since the takeoff of the first Heron 1 from Mazar-e-Sharif on March 17, 2010, this UAV and two others have flown more than 5,000 hr. over Afghanistan.

One-fifth of those hours were racked up between May 14 and July 11, an average of 17 hr. a day. This reflects high demand for the UAV, which is being leased by Germany until October 2012. Typical missions last 16 hr. but have stretched to 28.5 hr.

Heron 1 provides the German-led Regional Command North of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force with surveillance, reconnaissance, target acquisition and identification, and escorts convoys and patrols. Thanks to satellite communications, it covers the command’s entire area of responsibility.

Heron 1 flew its first operational mission using satellite data links in January, allowing the Luftwaffe to declare the system’s initial operational capability on Feb. 18. Operation had been restricted to the area around Mazar-e-Sharif as communications were limited to 200 km (125 mi.), with high-altitude missions beyond this range if weather permitted. Satellite communications allow Heron 1 to operate behind mountains or at low altitudes, says Dirk F., one of Rheinmetall’s four air vehicle operators. (Rules do not allow his full name to be disclosed.)

The system is operated under a lease with Rheinmetall and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). The Israeli company supplied the Heron 1 with electro-optical sensors, synthetic aperture radar and documentation, and trained Rheinmetall and Luftwaffe operators. Two shifts of 19 Rheinmetall employees operate the system 24/7. The availability rate is more than 90%, which translates to 480 flying hr. a month. The employees are responsible for maintenance, inspections and running a service center around the clock. Four employees with pilot qualifications (three are former Luftwaffe F-4F pilots) control Heron 1 during most takeoffs, landings and all technical check flights. Luftwaffe personnel operate the system during missions.

Dirk F. emphasizes the system’s role in detecting improvised explosive devices (IED). Other uses include persistent observation; support of ground operations; reconnaissance, identification and verification of targets; checking routes and monitoring territory, convoys and patrol escorts; object protection; and support of security forces, police and civil emergency responders.

Flight planning starts the day before a mission and continues into the early hours of the mission day, says Dirk F. Takeoff is at 0500, with Heron 1 arriving over its operational area an hour later for persistent observation of movement patterns and for mapping, checking routes and convoy escort. Likely interruptions include ad hoc tasking to help secure an accident site or support troops in contact. After being relieved by a second UAV at 2200, Heron 1 flies back to Mazar-e-Sharif, supporting object protection forces at Camp Mamal on the way and landing automatically at midnight. Just after landing, the UAV is inspected by Rheinmetall technicians and prepared for the next flight.

Flying at 15,000-20,000 ft. with its engine in fuel-saving mode—high and quiet enough not to be heard—Heron 1 observes behavior patterns that help determine whether Afghans are digging for agricultural purposes or planting IEDs. Observation of movement patterns and mapping is done by synthetic aperture radar or day/night camera. Imagery can be seen in control stations in Mazar-e-Sharif and displayed on the laptops of troops in combat, who can be talked through a situation—for example, by being told where insurgents are. Dirk F. reports positive feedback from troops after they return to camp and tells of dangerous missions being canceled if Heron support is unavailable.

Jurgen Michel, head of sales and airborne systems at Rheinmetall Defense, expects an extension of the Heron 1 lease beyond October 2012. The contract was signed in 2009 after a procurement tender for the UAV was canceled due to the Luftwaffe’s Urgent Operational Requirement for a MALE reconnaissance capability in Afghanistan. The first Heron 1 took off less than five months after the contract was signed with Rheinmetall.

Photo: Rheinmetall

15-09-11, 02:57 AM

A Defense Technology Blog

Triclops Has Eyes on MUSIC

Posted by Graham Warwick at 9/14/2011 2:19 PM CDT

The US Army has stood up a special website for its MUSIC manned-unmanned integration exercise, getting under way at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. One of the first things to be posted are the first pictures of the Triclops triple-sensor version of the MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft.

Photo: US Army

Making its debut a MUSIC, the Triclops demonstrator is equipped with three electro-optical/infrared sensors - the Gray Eagle's primary AAS-53 Common Sensor Payload (CSP) under the nose and two DAS-2s in pods under the wing.

While the CSP is operated from the Gray Eagle’s ground control station via the Ku-band tactical common data link, the two DAS-2 payloads will be operated separately by soldiers on the ground using the L-band digital data link and mini ground station for the Army’s RQ-11 Raven.

Music is intended to demonstrate how the Army’s manned-unmanned teaming architecture allows video imagery to be moved between helicopters, unmanned aircraft, ground stations and soldiers. An operational deployment of the Triclops is expected to follow.

15-09-11, 03:54 AM
DSEi 2011: Elbit underlines UAV strategy

September 14, 2011

Elbit Systems has told Shephard that 'various options' are being considered for the fleet of Hermes 450 UAVs operating in Afghanistan ahead of their replacement by Watchkeeper air frames.

The UAS Tactical Services (UtacS) joint venture between Elbit Systems and Thales UK has been operating an undisclosed number of Hermes 450s as part of 'Operation Lydian' since 2007 but will come to an end following the hand over of ISTAR operations from the 450 to Watchkeeper.

Senior director for UAS programmes at Elbit Systems, Eli Dotan, said: 'We are looking at options and it would be very clever to use the capability [elsewhere] as they have proven themselves on operations.'

Unable to comment on specifics, Dotan told Shephard: 'There is an opportunity for them to stay in Afghanistan for different users but it is too early to say.'

However, speaking at the Paris Air Show in June, Thales UK told Shephard that 'numerous' Thales-owned H450s would be made available with plenty of interest from undisclosed customers. He went on to describe how unlikely it was that any would stay in Afghanistan.

Last week, Hermes 450 airframes, operating in Afghanistan under the MoD's urgent operational requirement that is Op Lydian, amassed over 50,000 hours in Afghanistan.

Elsewhere, Dotan said Elbit was still considering whether to approach the UK MoD regarding its Scavenger ISTAR requirement. 'Scavenger is not something that is very stable. It depends on what the customer will require. The Hermes 900 could conduct some 70% of Scavenger requirements and would be a good extension to the Watchkeeper capability. But this is up to the customer to decide.'

By Andrew White, London

15-09-11, 10:24 AM
U.K., France Extend Drone Alliance to Fighter Craft

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sept. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Britain and France have extended their cooperation on drone technology to a possible unmanned replacement for fighter aircraft, Peter Luff, the U.K. defense- procurement minister, said today at a military exposition in London.

Jointly producing an unmanned combat air vehicle or UCAV would result in "genuine" cost savings and efficiencies and enhance inter-operability, Luff said in an interview on the sidelines of the DSEi show.

"We are working together on developing the science, the capability requirements, the doctrines," the minister said. "Where it will end I won't tell you because I don't know."

France and Britain pledged last November to jointly develop the next generation of medium-altitude, long-endurance, or MALE, drones to end their dependence on U.S. and Israeli unmanned aircraft for reconnaissance and strike missions, which are increasingly used in conflicts such as Afghanistan and Libya.

In one scenario, combining efforts to develop a UCAV could bring together London-based BAE Systems Plc and Paris-based Dassault Aviation SA, Luff said. The two companies are already jointly developing a MALE drone.

The drones market today is dominated by offerings from companies based in the U.S., including San Diego-based General Atomics and Northrop Grumman Corp. of Falls Church, Virginia, and Elbit Systems Ltd. and Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. European industry is eager to develop its own unmanned aircraft for military use to keep engineers working.

--Editors: Andrew Noel, Chris Jasper

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2011/09/13/bloomberg1376-LRIOEG6TTDTP01-4MJG7DEPFDRQLASHEK1HD639AM.DTL#ixzz1Y0WOctZN

15-09-11, 01:11 PM

SOURCE:Flight International

Israeli military eyes AirMule for medevac missions

By Arie Egozi

Deja Vu time, I could swear I've read exactly the same article on the same unmanned air vehicle 12-18 months ago.............:p

The Israeli military has identified an operational requirement for an unmanned vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) platform that will be used to perform resupply and medical evacuation tasks from the front line.

Efforts are now being made to allocate a budget for the requirement in the services' new multi-year acquisition plan and the defence ministry will participate in the funding of the proposed solution.

Israeli VTOL aircraft developer Urban Aeronautics' AirMule ducted fan unmanned air system is the only candidate for the missions, with the company's prototype having recently completed another series of test flights. These were focused on its automatic take-off and landing system and precision hovering feature, sources said.

© Urban Aeronautics

The need is based on the lessons learned from the second Lebanon war, where Israeli combat units encountered difficulties in receiving supplies from helicopters. The same difficulties were experienced by medical crews when they needed to perform the urgent evacuation of casualties.

With a maximum take-off weight of 1,400kg (3,090lb), the AirMule has a planned maximum speed of 97kt (180km/h), a 12,000ft (3,660m) service ceiling and an endurance of up to 5h.

Urban Aeronautics plans to perform its next series of test flights in southern Israel, including activities to open up the AirMule's flight envelope.

15-09-11, 03:57 PM

SOURCE:Flight International

DSEi: Predator B ready for 'payload sovereignty' test flight

By Dan Thisdell

Successful laboratory testing has paved the way for a test flight by year-end of a General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Predator B unmanned air system (UAS) equipped with a new open architecture sensor, control and data management concept developed by Selex Galileo.

The two partners have been working together as General Atomics is keen to demonstrate that its highly successful strike and reconnaissance UAS can be operated with a third-party payload system, while Selex needs to show that its open architecture concept offers such a capability. Both companies want to appeal to customers demanding "payload sovereignty".

Having successfully integrated Selex's Seaspray 7500E radar into the Predator B, the sovereign payload capability demonstration project is now set to conclude in early December, with a live flight demonstration from General Atomics' Gray Butte Flight Operations Center in Palmdale, California, over the Pacific Ocean.

Selex chief executive Fabrizio Giulianini said the skyISTAR open architecture concept for medium-altitude, long-endurance and larger systems will also be adapted to smaller aircraft.

It will be flown on Selex's Falco Evo reconnaissance platform in early 2012, and can be adapted to multiple user requirements, Giulianini said at the Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEi) exhibition in London on 14 September.

SkyISTAR is designed to integrate sensors, defensive aids equipment and other systems into a mission management system which, with proprietary algorithms, will "provide the operator with a single, seamless picture of the UAS' environment".

Selex senior vice president for unmanned air vehicles, Gianfranco Terrando, added that the Predator B test represents "spiral zero" of a development programme that will see the integration of sensors by Selex and other suppliers, with many platforms: "We are focusing our efforts on managing the data," he added.

General Atomics said the Predator B's segmented avionics and open payload architectures allow payloads to be integrated without the need to modify the aircraft or ground control system software.

Integrators can access aircraft data links, control certain power switching and receive vehicle and sensor data feeds.

15-09-11, 07:00 PM
More on this.............


A Defense Technology Blog

Fire-X Takes A British Turn

Posted by Robert Wall at 9/15/2011 5:00 AM CDT

Northrop Grumman and QinetiQ are trying to take the Fire-X model -- using the Fire Scout technology but marrying to a different platform -- for the U.K. In this case the platform is a Gazelle.

The team is targeting a long existing Royal Navy concept technology demonstration which has been slow to get moving.

(Photo: QinetiQ)

Why the Gazelle? A few are still in service and QinetiQ has several and lots of engineering expertise. It is not necessarily the platform that would be used for an operational system.

For the demo, the Gazelle would be converted at Boscombe Down, with flight testing due at the QinetiQ West Wales UAV Center, QinetiQ and Northrop Grumman have jointly announced.

The unmanned Gazelle would provide around 8 hours of endurance and could be ready within a year of program launch.

One issue the Royal Navy still needs to resolve is whether it wants that sized vertical takeoff and landing unmanned aircraft or something smaller -- like the Schiebel Camcopter. It is a debate several navies are having.

15-09-11, 07:22 PM
DSEi 2011: Skeldar fuels up for sea tests

September 15, 2011

Saab is to start testing a heavy-fuel engine for the maritime variant of its Skeldar V-200 rotary UAV this week as part of the next stage of development for the system.

The system is being produced parallel to the land version, and the maritime variant is expected to be operational 'mid next year', Hans Berglund, director of marketing for UAV Systems at Saab, told Shephard at the DSEi exhibition in London on 15 September.

The engine that is being tested will have a 58hp engine, and the testing will take place in Sweden, although Saab is also planning on carrying out similar testing in Spain later this year to experiment with different weather conditions for 'more efficient testing'.

The Skeldar platform is 'very flexible for payloads', is based on a 'plug and play' architecture, and uses off the shelf products, including SAR and EO/IR payloads. The company is also looking into new types of radar to add to the platform.

The land variant is yet to be purchased, but it is expected to have a customer by the first half of next year.

Berglund said that Saab is in discussions with European customers for participation on several programmes, including the Future Tactical Unmanned Air System (FUAS), for which the company 'may suggest to scale up Skeldar'.

The system currently weighs 200kg, but Berglund said that Saab is looking at options for increasing it to up to 600kg.

He also said that he sees Europe as an important player in the UAV market, and that the maritime variant was introduced as a response to Saab seeing 'most of the custom there'.

Berglund also confirmed that Saab is 'not interested' in entering a bid for the Anglo-French MALE UAV RFI expected to be released next year.

Beth Stevenson, London

16-09-11, 02:44 AM
Northrop-Grumman’s Unmanned Combat Air System Incorporates 1394 Fire Wire Standard

Posted on September 15, 2011 by The Editor

The FireWire has been established as an aircraft vehicle management (VMS) network in the X-47B developed by Northrop-Grumman Group. Northrop-Grumman Group has developed the X-47B as part of the J-UCAS program of the DARPA. The combat aircraft is now part of the UCAS-D programme of the U.S Navy. Northrop group developed the aircraft with the aim of building a carrier-based unmanned aircraft.

There was a need for a network system in the aircraft that would provide quality service with real-time control that comes with predictable latencies. This network system was achieved by the military standard 1394b provided by combining SAE with AS5643.

The incorporation of the 1394 FireWire network in the X-47B aircraft is another success story for the network. Apart from the X-47B aircraft, the FireWire network has been implemented in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that is made up of more than 70 devices that use the 1394 standard. These devices are involved in the collection and delivery of mission information and consist of various weapon systems, engine controls, flight control and communication equipment.

The developer of FireWire, Richard Mourn has reviewed the implementation of the 1394 standard in the X-47B aircraft. He is also part of the board of directors of the 1394 Trade Association

Source: Press Release

16-09-11, 02:47 AM
Wireless system enables UAVs to communicate with operators

14 September 2011 | By Stephen Harris

British engineers are preparing to test technology for sending data across an airborne network of civilian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The wireless communication system is designed to allow a UAV to securely send video footage and other information to its ground-based operator at the highest possible speed, even when it is out of direct range.

It is the latest technology to emerge from the aerospace industry’s Autonomous Systems Technology Related Airborne Evaluation & Assessment (ASTRAEA) programme, alongside a device for sensing and avoiding vehicles in commercial airspace that is also undergoing testing.

‘If you have critical, time-sensitive data, there’s no point having it locked on the aircraft. You have to have a mechanism to get it to its intended end user,’ said project manager David Rees from defence company Cassidian, speaking at the ASTRAEA national conference on 7 September 2011.

‘We are capable, with the solution we’re developing, of utilising the best media for the data type, importance and urgency,’ he added.

The system can also use existing communications infrastructure and satellite communications, according to Rees. ‘We don’t have to have a simple end-to-end delivery from A to B. It could go over a number of bearers with different capabilities.’

One of the key challenges for the technology is managing the different links in the network as they are established, increase and decrease in strength and then disappear as the different craft move around.

The system has to decide which path to send the data by and alter it accordingly as the network changes. This could involve changing the type of data sent if higher speeds become unavailable.

For example, high-resolution video can be altered to low resolution and then to still images if a network connection loses strength, and back again as better links are re-established.

The other main difficulty was reducing the power, size and weight of the technology to make it suitable for small UAVs.

‘The capability we’ve developed today, we could probably plug into a Euro Hawk [a 3,850kg unmanned spy plane] tomorrow, but that’s a huge aircraft,’ said Rees.

‘If we want to evolve this technology to a point where it becomes viable for UAVs that have a maximum weight of 50kg or 20kg, then… the way we evolve and manage our communications capability is a critical part of that solution.’

The Cassidian team successfully tested varied data transfer between two nodes on a network earlier this year. The team is now preparing to test a second prototype, which is roughly the size of a small cereal box and uses 110W of power, in the first part of 2012.

Another technology being tested for the ASTRAEA programme is a sense-and-avoid system that uses a variety of visual and electromagnetic sensors to alert a UAV to oncoming craft, buildings and terrain, and to allow it to plot a course around them.

This involves two systems, one for immediate collision avoidance and another to keep the craft out of the path of other vehicles by making minor course adjustments well in advance of contact.

‘We want the system to behave like other aircraft,’ said BAE Systems’ Darren Ansell, technical manager on the ASTRAEA communications programme. ‘We don’t want it to be doing weird and wonderful manoeuvres; it’s got to behave and act like any other aircraft.

‘The system has to be compliant with rules of the air; it has to turn the right way; it has to do what other airspace users would expect a conventional aircraft to do in that kind of situation.’

ASTRAEA is a £62m industry-led consortium programme supported by the UK government to create the technologies, systems and regulations needed to operate civilian UAVs.

Read more: http://www.theengineer.co.uk/sectors/aerospace/news/wireless-system-enables-uavs-to-communicate-with-operators/1009995.article#ixzz1Y4WWZfF3

16-09-11, 06:41 PM

SOURCE:Flight International

DSEi: Qinetiq seeks more users for Welsh UAV centre

By Craig Hoyle

Qinetiq is stepping up its efforts to attract more developers and operators of unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) to make use of its facilities at the West Wales UAV Centre at Aberporth, touting benefits including access to newly available dedicated airspace.

Flight operations with unmanned systems at the West Wales Airport site have recently passed the 2,500h mark, with development testing of the WK450 vehicle as part of the British Army's Thales UK-led Watchkeeper programme now making a significant contribution.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) from late July approved access from Aberporth to a 500 miles2 (1,300km2) block of airspace to be made available as required for UAV test activities. Qinetiq said this stretches around 40 miles inland and passes over a population of around 10,000 people.

"It was a three-year effort to get the airspace in, and it's the only place in the UK where the CAA will countenance UAV operations," said Carl Davies, project manager at the West Wales UAV Centre.

Davies cited access to local military test ranges and Qinetiq's safety pedigree as other key benefits of the Aberporth facility, which was established with the backing of the Welsh Assembly government.

Development activities and flight testing of each of the British Army's eventual 54 WK450 air vehicles will see Thales making use of the West Wales UAV Centre until at least 2014, Davies said at the Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEi) show in London.

Qinetiq is also seeking to attract commercial users, as the use of unmanned technologies is expected to increase over the coming years for applications including environmental monitoring. "We can use the airspace to start proving the integration of manned and unmanned systems," said Davies.

19-09-11, 04:48 PM

SOURCE:Flight International

Rheinmetall, IAI test unmanned strike system

By Arie Egozi

Rheinmetall Defence and its partner Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) have successfully tested their Wabep unmanned weapon system.

Defined as a "weapon system for stand-off engagement of individual and point targets", Wabep consists of a Rheinmetall-made KZO unmanned air vehicle and an IAI Harop attack drone.

According to the companies, the KZO and Harop were flown in a networked mode in a variety of operational scenarios during test flights.

The latter received data from the reconnaissance asset via a combined system computer. This included a large number of landmarks and infrastructure installations, as well as stationary and moving targets.

The Harop has an extended loitering capability, and can be used to engage high-value targets with extreme precision, IAI said.

When linked with the KZO, it is possible to abort an attack mission just before impact.

20-09-11, 01:28 AM
UAV that can reach Iran to take flight by end of year

By YAAKOV KATZ, Jerusalem Post

09/19/2011 03:52

Photo by: Courtesy: IAF [illustrative]

Heron TP is the largest UAV in the IAF, can launch missiles; France has already announced decision to purchase the UAV.

The Israel Air Force will boost its intelligence-gathering capabilities by the end of the year as it moves forward with plans to begin operating the Heron TP, Israel’s largest unmanned aerial vehicle, capable of flying as far as Iran.

The IAF established its first squadron of the Heron TP – manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries – last year and until now has been in the process of learning how to operate it and writing the operational doctrine.

The Heron TP is the largest UAV in the IAF. It has a 26- meter-long wingspan – the size of a Boeing 737 – and can stay airborne for up to 45 hours. It can carry 1,000 kg. in payloads, making it capable of conducting a wide variety of missions.

According to foreign reports, it has the ability to also launch missiles, and in Israel it is often referred to as the UAV “that can reach Iran.”

In July, France announced its decision to purchase the Heron TP in the first export deal for the UAV. The deal is estimated to reach close to $500 million over a number of years and could lead to additional contracts for Israel Aerospace Industries as other countries, such as Germany, seek to upgrade their UAV capabilities.

The IAF’s use of drones has dramatically increased in recent years and they are used on different fronts – in Lebanon, along the Egyptian border, in the Gaza Strip and off of Israel’s coast to protect natural gas installations.

Earlier this year, the IAF decided to establish a new UAV squadron made up of Heron 1 and Hermes 900 UAVs, which according to foreign reports is capable of firing missiles.

20-09-11, 01:42 AM
AFA: UAV Pilots Will Outnumber Those of Manned Aircraft


Published: 19 Sep 2011 17:29

Pilots of remotely piloted aircraft (RPAs) will become more prevalent in the U.S. Air Force than pilots of manned aircraft, the commander of the service's Air Education and Training Command said Sept. 19.

That doesn't mean the traditional pilot is going away, though, Gen. Edward Rice told reporters at the Air Force Association's fall conference in National Harbor, Md. The USAF is likely to still produce about 1,050 pilots annually.

The Air Force has already graduated its first class of dedicated RPA pilots, who are focused only on flying unmanned aircraft. Right now, the Air Force think it has the syllabus for the land-based aviators about right, but there could be tweaks, Rice said.

20-09-11, 04:55 PM
New, Improved Rolls Royce Engine for Global Hawk

Posted on September 20, 2011 by The Editor

Rolls-Royce, the global power systems company, has announced that the growth variant of the Rolls-Royce AE 3007H engine has successfully completed its US Air Force-funded flight test. The engine is designed to enhance performance of the RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft and will offer customers significant improvements in engine durability and total life-cycle cost savings.

The engine, which improves both the turbine and fuel nozzles, began development in 2008. Rolls-Royce made the announcement at the annual Air Force Association Air & Space Conference, near Washington, DC.

The growth engine was tested in a Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft and both aircraft and engine performed in line with expectations.

Stephen Fairbairn, Rolls-Royce, Vice President — Customer Business, stated: “This is another major milestone for a system which has been flying for 13 years and amassed more than 60,000 flight hours. We continue to enhance our engine performance and capabilities for our customers with these types of improvements.”

The Block III enhancement provides significant increases to the life of the turbine and nearly doubles its time on wing. It will become the production configuration for US Navy MQ-4C Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Unmanned Aircraft System (BAMS UAS) and the US Air Force Global Hawk programme, as well as future variants.

The RQ-4 is powered by a Rolls-Royce AE 3007H turbofan engine.

SOURCE: Press Release

21-09-11, 02:49 AM

SOURCE:Flight International

India's DRDO targets solar-powered UAV

By Radhakrishna Rao

India's state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is looking to develop a solar-powered unmanned air vehicle that would be capable of remaining airborne for at least a month.

The DRDO said the new system would be capable of performing long-range sorties and delivering real-time information via secure data links.

Meanwhile, sources within the same organisation have revealed that the Gas Turbine Research Establishment's indigenous Kaveri engine was deemed suitable to power a future unmanned combat air vehicle, which is currently the subject of concept studies.

The Kaveri was originally intended to power the Aeronautical Development Agency's Tejas light combat aircraft.

21-09-11, 03:03 PM
Advanced Unmanned Aircraft Debuts in Beijing

(Source: People’s Daily; published Sept. 21, 2011)

The Aviation Expo China 2011, the oldest and most professional aviation exposition, will be held from Sept. 21 to Sept. 24, and preparations for the expo are nearing completion.

The advanced domestic unmanned helicopter, codenamed Z-5, has been placed in the exposition hall. It will be the first time that the helicopter has been seen by the public at large, who will have access to the exposition this Saturday, the last day of the exposition.

Yesterday afternoon, the foreign exhibitors hurried to make last-ditch final preparations for their booths in the exposition. Meanwhile, domestic exhibitors are more relaxed and their preparations were done faster.

The unmanned Z-5 helicopter, which was developed by the 60th Research Institute of PLA Headquarters of the Central Staff, is a military aircraft and has never been revealed to the public before.

"The advanced Z-5 unmanned helicopter is a perfect air platform because it can hover in the sky," said a technician at the exposition. "It integrates multiple advanced technologies, such as a measurement and control system, navigation technology, sensors, automatic control system as well as image transmission. It can be fixed in a particular point in the sky to do topographic and environmental investigations of a certain area or send out interference to enemy devices. This helicopter not only can be used in military investigations but also will play an important role in civilian fields like earthquake relief and land monitoring."

At the booth of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp., sits a slender white plane with two missiles behind its wings and its head held high. That is the unmanned aircraft codenamed WJ-600 which has drawn great attention among military fans.

According to a staff member, the WJ-600 unmanned aircraft has employed sophisticated technologies in cruise missile control and dynamic systems. It can carry two missiles at the same time. It is a high-speed pilot-less plane integrated with inspection and attack functions, and it can travel at 900 kph. Besides, it can escape from radar detection due to its special stealth appearance and paint-coat.

The Aviation Expo China 2011 is the 14th aviation exposition, which has been held every two years since 1985. The exposition is opened to professional visitors on the first three days from Sept. 21 to Sept. 23 and to the public on the last day, Sept. 24.


21-09-11, 03:10 PM
Egypt May Buy UAS from Turkey

Posted on September 21, 2011 by The Editor

Anka - Photo:Hürriyet

Well there are no large Mountain chains in the northern area of Egypt and Sinai where this would see the most use, one would expect, cos its under-powered hence why the Turks wanted the USA to base Predators there. The ANKA cannot handle hot-n-high...............

According to an executive at Turkish Aerospace Industries, the new Egyptian government is interested in buying unmanned aircraft made in Turkey. Some Middle East countries prefer Turkey rather than Israel or the US, defence experts say. Egypt is interested in buying the Anka UAS from Turkish Aerospace Industries. Egyptian and Turkish authorities talked about a possible future agreement to sell made-in-Turkey unmanned aircraft to Egypt during the visit of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Egypt last week.

“Many countries in the Middle East, ranging from North African countries to Saudi Arabia, are interested in the Anka Male [medium altitude, long endurance] unmanned aircraft system that we produce,” the Vice President of Turkish Aerospace Industries, or TAI’s, Integrated Aircraft Systems Özcan Ertem told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview on Monday.

Ertem said a large number of countries – especially in the Middle East – have been closely following the developments in the production of UAS in Turkey. “I believe once the airworthiness and qualification testing period is over, there will be a high potential market for us to export our Ankas,” he said. “But we can only sell to countries that our government considers appropriate.”

The production process of the first series of UAS is over now, and Anka has already started its flight test campaign, according to Ertem. The testing period with electro-optic sensors is expected to be concluded in the spring.

Compared to the U.S.-made Predator and the Israel-made Heron, the Anka is a larger UAS and has the capacity to carry heavier loads, Ertem said. “The Anka has the capacity to carry up to 500 kilograms of sensors and fuel. Besides, different than our competitors, we have chosen a special engine system that runs on jet fuel, because it is available at every air base.”

There are three countries in the world that produce similar UAS: Israel, the U.S. and Turkey. There are almost 15 countries interested in buying Turkey’s version of the UAS, and because of political reasons, some countries in the Middle East prefer Turkey rather than Israel or the US, defence experts say.

Source: Hürriyet Daily News

22-09-11, 03:14 PM
Southampton University to Teach Drone Design

(Source: the Guardian; published Sept. 22, 2011)

The first postgraduate course in the design of unmanned autonomous vehicles is being launched at Southampton University this month as the global market for civilian and military drones expands into a £5bn-a-year industry.

The city where the Spitfire was developed in the 1930s has now become the first to build and fly a UAV created using laser-printing technology – a drone whose elliptical wings echo those of the Second World War fighter plane.

Academics at the university are working with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) to develop swarms of micro-drones to study atmospheric and climate patterns.

The Southampton team is also in discussions with the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), which is interested in covert, aerial surveillance, as well as with the US Navy's disruptive technologies group, with which they are exploring the possibility of producing disposable drones that could be "reprinted" every day.

The production technique, known as sintering, uses three-dimensional printing technology to create solid objects out of cakes of powdered nylon, solidifying designs with laser beams.

UAVs are seen by many as a threat, as "Big Brother in the sky". The rapid proliferation of robotic technology for military and surveillance purposes has prompted calls for international legal controls to be imposed on the technology.

Attempts to develop "autonomous targeting" – where unmanned planes lock automatically on to what their on-board computers assume is the enemy – have reinforced criticism of supposedly pinpoint drone strikes in Pakistan that have caused civilian deaths. This week the US announced the expansion of its drone base in the Seychelles, for use in attacks on Somalia.

But the CIA's Predators and Reapers are no longer the only drones in the skies. In the last few years the variety of uses for UAVs has multiplied, diversifying from military surveillance or remotely operated missile systems. As well as working with the BAS, Southampton University is helping game parks in Namibia to develop UAVs that track endangered species.

Its MSc course, which has 12 students signed up for its first year, will not only cover the development and flying of unmanned aircraft but also the construction of underwater and land-based robotic vehicles. The course is expected to expand to 20 students in a few years' time.


22-09-11, 04:16 PM
Azerbaijan Steps Up National UAV Production

Azerbaijan to receive Aerostar (pictured) and Orbiter 2M UAVs.

Azerbaijani Armed Forces to receive 60 new UAVs by the end of 2011

10:30 GMT, September 22, 2011 defpro.com | The Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan will take delivery of 60 license-built tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) by the end of 2011. As Rashad Suleymanov of the Azeri Press Agency (APA) recently reported (see http://goo.gl/sfUa7), the Israeli-designed small unmanned aircraft are currently being manufactured and assembled by the Baku-based Azad Systems Company, a joint venture between the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence Industry (MDI) and Israeli UAV manufacturer Aeronautics Defense Systems.

Aeronautics, which is Israel’s third-largest UAV manufacturer after IAI and Elbit Systems, provided Azerbaijan with its Aerostar and Orbiter 2M UAV systems. The Orbiter 2M mini UAV operates at a height of 4 to 6 kilometres with a maximum of 5 hours in flight. The somewhat larger Aerostar UAV provides the Azerbaijani Army with situational awareness from a height of approximately 10 kilometres and offers an endurance of up to 12 hours.

Azad Systems currently manufactures these UAVs at its Baku facility and plans to deliver 60 of the small aircraft to the Armed Forces by the end of this year. The latter will use the aircraft primarily for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) purposes. However, Azerbaijani Minister of Defence Industry Yavar Jamalov told APA that the country is also considering the production of armed UAVs that could actively engage ground targets. According to the Minister, this project is scheduled to be implemented within the next two years.

Suleymanov told defpro.com that the technical characteristics of licence-built UAVs are very similar to the original Israeli design. While 30 per cent of the equipment is being manufactured in Azerbaijan, the majority of the systems’ elements are being produced abroad and delivered to Azerbaijan for final assembly.

Azerbaijan launched studies on the domestic production of UAVs in late 2009. According to APA, several Turkish companies, including TAI, Baykar Makina and Global Teknik, as well as Israeli companies, submitted proposals for a joint production. The Azerbaijani MDI’s decision in favour of Israeli designs, supported by the fact that armed forces’ already operate Israeli-built UAVs, resulted in the establishment of Azad Systems in March 2011.

While Israeli-Turkish relations are currently experiencing tough times, Israel’s defence industry has closely worked with the small but oil-rich Muslim country located by the Caspian Sea during recent years. The bilateral ties have flourished, in particular, since Azerbaijan became one of the largest crude-oil suppliers to Israel in 2006. Defence programmes with a major involvement of Israeli industries include communications and satellite systems, as well as artillery systems and UAVs.

The Azerbaijani Armed Forces already operate Elbit Systems’ Hermes 450 and IAI’s Searcher reconnaissance UAVs, as well as a number of Aeronautics’ Aerostar and Orbiter UAVs. Some of the Armed Forces’ unmanned assets were displayed during a military parade in Baku in June 2011.

Due to country’s long-standing dispute with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh territory, which was occupied by Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh War that ended in 1994, Azerbaijan is undertaking great efforts to modernise its armed forces. To accomplish this aim, the relatively small country is seeking close industrial co-operation with regional and international partners in all major sectors of defence manufacturing. Among the most important partners are Turkey and Israel. However, countries such as the Czech Republic (modernisation of Azerbaijan’s L-29 and L-30 aircraft) and South Africa are also involved in important modernisation programmes.

Azerbaijan’s antagonist, Armenia, has also engaged in the national production of UAVs. Among the results of this effort is the Armenian-made Krunk drone, which was presented to the public during a military parade in Yerevan on September 21 dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the country’s independence from the Soviet Union.

By Nicolas von Kospoth, Managing Editor

(Photo: Aeronautics Defense Systems)

22-09-11, 04:22 PM
Boeing A-160 T Hummingbird

Posted on September 22, 2011 by The Editor

Uploaded by defensemedianetwork on Sep 15, 2011
A -160T Hummingbird UAS

In this video, which was just published on YouTube by Defense Media Network, Mansik Johng, A-160 Advance Design Manager at The Boeing Company, presents the outstanding features and capabilities of the unmanned helicopter. The video was shot at the AUSA Winter Symposium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida on February 23-25, earlier this year by Scott Gourley.

Source: YouTube

22-09-11, 04:31 PM
US Geological Survey Uses Raven to Monitor River Erosion on Indian Reservation

Posted on September 22, 2011 by The Editor

Uploaded by usgsuas on Sep 16, 2011
The Department of the Interior -- U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Aviation Management Directorate, in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, performed the third small Unmanned Aerial System proof-of-concept operation to collect data over Upper and Lower Red Rock Lakes to detect areas of groundwater discharge in Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, Montana. For more information: http://uas.usgs.gov

The US Geological Survey has just released this video of its Raven flights to monitor river bank erosion on the Lower Brule reservation on the bank of the Missouri River that we reported in August.The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe (LBST) Environmental Protection Office asked the USGS for assistance in monitoring erosion of the Missouri River shoreline on the Lower Brule Reservation. The LBST Reservation, home to approximately 600 Native Americans, is located on the western side of the Missouri River in central South Dakota. The Missouri River and the two lakes formed by dams, Lake Sharpe and Lake Francis Case, form the northern and eastern boundary of the LBST Reservation. Shoreline erosion has occurred along a large portion of this border. The LBST estimates that the Reservation is losing shoreline in some locations at a rate of approximately 8 feet per year.

Native Americans honour their cultural heritage and environmental resources and many ancestral sites are located along the Missouri River. Agriculture and recreation is a large part of the LBST Reservation’s economy. As bank erosion occurs, cultural heritage sites and shoreline habitat are lost or altered. To address these concerns, a monitoring programme has been developed for a portion of the Missouri River’s shoreline. The study area consists of a 7-mile stretch of shoreline with major bank loss. This area was chosen because of the high rate of bank loss and because the LBST Rural Water plant’s intake location is within the study area.

The study area’s topography is undulating; vegetation generally is prairie grasses with small areas of trees. Due to the lack of roads, crumbling riverbanks and shallow water unsuitable for motorboat traffic, this area is not easily accessible for much of the shoreline. The Unmanned Aerial System Raven technology will be invaluable as an environmental tool to monitor bank erosion and changing habitat conditions. Raven flights will be used as a reconnaissance and surveillance tool to capture video and still pictures, providing a baseline reference of conditions and recording physical changes that occur along this small portion of the Missouri River during the 2-year study. Results from this effort will be analyzed to investigate the location and severity of erosion, and the lasting impacts of cultural and environmental losses. This tool could potentially be used for many other efforts dealing with large rivers, providing a safe and economical method to monitor dangerous shoreline.

Source: USGS

22-09-11, 05:43 PM

SOURCE:Flight International

Aurora reveals future Orion modification plan

By Stephen Trimble

Aurora Flight Sciences has revealed plans for future modifications of its 120h-endurance Orion unmanned air system (UAS).

If cleared to advance beyond the funded demonstration, the Orion will be modified with a retractable main landing gear to reduce drag and a de-icing system for all-weather operations, said Tim Bennett, the US-headquartered firm's Orion programme manager.

The Orion demonstrator's nose gear already retracts, but the main landing gear is fixed. The exposed gear and wheels will not prevent the Orion from achieving the 5-day endurance flight, Bennett said.

An operational aircraft may require retractable gear, however. Aurora is designing a main gear that retracts into a pair of extended engine nacelles, Bennett added.

The US Air Force Research Laboratory selected Aurora last year, over aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, to develop and demonstrate an unmanned aircraft that can remain airborne for five days without refuelling.

© Aurora Flight Sciences

Aurora plans to complete first flight between June and September next year, Bennett said.

The five-day demonstration flight is expected to be completed between December 2012 and March 2013, he added. The demonstration requires Orion to operate at 20,000ft (6,100m) with a 453kg (1,000lb) payload.

Aurora is currently in the process of selecting the sensor payload, which must be reliable enough to operate continuously for 120h.

23-09-11, 10:21 AM

SOURCE:Flight International

PICTURES: China displays UAV systems at aviation expo

By Greg Waldron

Chinese companies and institutions are developing a range of helicopter unmanned air vehicles for military and civilian applications.

Some of the UAVs and models of conceptual aircraft were on display at the Aviation Expo/China 2011 trade show in Beijing.

One of the systems, the Sunward Tech SUV200, has a 200kg (441lb) payload capacity, and was ostensibly built for the monitoring of power lines. However, a video also showed it being used for military applications, such as firing rockets and delivering supplies to soldiers.

Dennis Fetters, a freelance UAV designer who worked with Sunward on the project, said the SUV200 will have its first flight in three months. The aircraft has a 75hp (55kW) engine, and an endurance of up to 3h.

© Greg Waldron/Flightglobal
Sunward Tech SUV200

Sunward plans to sell two units and a ground control station for yuan 10 million ($1.6 million). The aircraft can carry a range of weapons and sensors, and has two small internal storage compartments.

Other helicopter UAVs on display included the Beijing Youtaishuncheng Technology Development M28, with contra-rotating blades, and several others using a conventional helicopter layout.

"The big advantage of helicopter UAVs is that they can deliver cargo," said Fetters.

© Greg Waldron/Flightglobal
Beijing Youtaishuncheng Technology Development M28

The China Aerospace Science & Industry Corporation also displayed an animated video of three UAV concepts. These included the WJ-600, a full-sized model of which appeared at last year's Air Show China in Zhuhai.

In the video, the WJ-600 operates over both land and sea, attacking moving land targets and ships with missiles. It is also depicted blinding the sensors on warships with an electronic warfare capability.

The UAV is shown as being launched with rocket assistance from a large trailer, as opposed to using a runway - the preferred method for large UAVs developed in the West. This could reflect a concern in Beijing that its airfields would be compromised in the event of a conflict.

23-09-11, 02:41 PM
MUSIC 2011: UGCS to be fielded with Shadow and Gray Eagle fleets

September 23, 2011

The Universal GCS (UGCS) will be integrated into Shadow and Gray Eagle fleets ‘within the year’ following successful testing as part of the Manned Unmanned System Integration Capability (MUSIC) experiment, the US Army has revealed.

According to Tim Owings, Deputy Project Manager UAS ‘those systems are slated to be fielded within the next year within a Shadow fleet, and in the following year within the Gray Eagle fleet’.

Conducted by the US Army’s Project Offices for UAS, Apache and armed Scout helicopters, MUSIC took place at Michael Army Airfield in Utah on 16 September, and was used to demonstrate interoperability; manned/unmanned teaming; and a number of different systems that are in the final stages of testing.

‘The UGCS has been tested with the individual variants in the past year. What was new was simultaneously transitioning from one air vehicle to another air vehicle to operate,’ he continued. AAI is responsible for the design of the UGCS while AeroVironment designed the Mini-UGCS for control of small UAS.

The unmanned systems involved in MUSIC included: the MQ-1C Gray Eagle; the RQ-7B Shadow; the RQ-11B Raven SUAS; the Puma AE; and the MQ-5B Hunter, plus the Apache and Kiowa Warrior manned helicopters.

‘We controlled one of sensors from the OSRVT [one system remote video terminal], we controlled one of the sensors from the Mini-UGCS, and we controlled one of the sensors from the primary control station. So quite a demonstration of the complete gambit of air operability, open architecture, and manned/unmanned teaming,’ Owings added.

For the first time bi-directional control from the OSRVT was demonstrated, and the OSRVT ‘now basically controls the payload’. Another first for the tests was ‘air operability profiles’, which are open architecture standards that allow anybody to attach to the systems, both of which are expected to be fielded in the next year.

The data link used during the exercise comprised a combination of a tactical common data link (which the army is in the process of building currently with Shadow and has already fielded with Hunter and Gray Eagle) and the digital data link for small UAVs that is also expected to be fielded.

The testing was completed with a live firing of rockets based on targeting information from an unmanned aircraft system to a Kiowa Warrior.

These capabilities will be fully showcased when the army builds the full-spectrum Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) because Shadows and Gray Eagles are going to be teamed with manned aircraft as part of this movement, an army representative added.

Having described the tests as ‘flawless’, the army described its intention to conduct the MUSIC exercise every two years and the service has not ruled out the possibility of collaborating with coalition nations in future testing.

Beth Stevenson, London

24-09-11, 06:13 AM
PHOTO: Baby UCAV flies in China?

By Stephen Trimble on September 23, 2011 5:07 PM

A new photo on sinodefenseforum and Secret Projects appears to show China's first stealthy unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV). One view on these forums guesses this image may reveal a new, subscale, 2m-wingspan demonstrator by Shenyang, one of China's three historic fighter makers along with Chengdu and Xian. Others speculate that it could be merely a hobbyist's remote controlled aircraft - a toy.

With startling photos of secret Chinese military projects, there is always reason to suspect fraud-by-Photoshop. But this image at least wears a legitimate pedigree. Weifeng is the online moniker for a widely published Chinese aviation spotter. You can view this photographer's catalogue of commercial and military aircraft images on airliners.net and JetPhotos.net. Weifeng also maintains one of the best and most up-to-date Chinese military imagery sites at cnair.top81.cn.

This image of a stealthy UCAV is being ciruclated only three weeks after Weifeng attended an open house at Changchun AFB, which yielded this gorgeous image of a parked J-11.

We don't need to speculate about Shenyang's interest in flying-wing, stealthy UCAVs. The company's research engineers have published several papers in recent years on this topic, including this one titled "Application of Flying Wing UAV for Reconnaissance". The paper concludes "the flying wing configuration is an optimal selection of aerodynamic configuration design of an UCAV for reconnaissance".

We've also seen China show off flying-wing concepts for UCAVs in the recent past. At the 2008 Zhuhai air show, for instance, Shenyang presented a forward-swept flying wing called Combat Eagle [shown below]. It is not as electrifying as the Dark Sword concept that Shenyang unveiled at the 2006 Zhuhai air show, but clearly shows Chinese ambitions in stealthy UCAVs. It would not be out of sequence for Shenyang's engineering team to begin with a subscale demonstrator to understand the aerodynamics and flight controls of a flying-wing aircraft.

24-09-11, 06:18 AM
Iran Running Drone Competitions to Upgrade Unmanned Air Force

By Adam Rawnsley September 23, 2011 | 4:35 pm

Drones: every military wants ‘em. But if you’re a country like Iran, sanctions can put a bit of a crimp in your efforts to build an unmanned aerial vehicle fleet. To get around the problem, Iran is turning inward, using drone development competitions to gin up new ideas for homebrew UAVs.

Today America enjoys a distinct military advantage, thanks to its unmanned air force. Tomorrow, that advantage is likely to vanish, thanks to contests like Iran’s Div-e-Sepid. Competitors from up to 65 teams square off by racing their homemade drones around Mount Damavand, Iran’s highest mountain peak.

In the Homa Sazan competition, sUASnews.com notes, drone makers test their designs against a series of increasingly complex real-life missions. Their UAVs, equipped with small cameras, fly over patches of land and sea looking to see who can spot hidden markers, relay their precise coordinates and accomplish other tasks.

The missions are supposed to get increasingly more complex as the annual contests continue. From a military perspective, the competitions’ goals are fairly anodyne: finding wood smugglers and spotting those in need of rescue on land and sea and dropping small packages of rescue supplies. But like just about any kind of technology, the capabilities can be used for a variety of purposes. A UAV able to spot that wood smuggler might also be useful for identifying targets on a battlefield.

Just this week, Iran bragged about a new drone designed by students at Tabriz University. The Sharapah (meaning “butterfly”) is a high-altitude drone, according to an official Iranian mouthpiece, capable of reaching heights of 15,000 feet. It reportedly can hover for up to three hours and has a range of about 12 miles. The report comes as part of Iran’s chest-puffing for the “Week of Sacred Defense.” The occasion, marking Iran’s grueling eight-year war with Iraq, came complete with a Thursday parade, showing off Iran’s drone fleet and other weaponry.

Iran’s no slouch when it comes to building drones. Just ask the U.S. military. They shot down an Iranian drone, an Ababil-3, flying over Iraq in 2009. And the Mullahs have been pretty full-throated in making claims about their drone production capability. Last year, it also claimed two of its drones, the Ra’d and Nazir, were “capable of conducting long-range reconnaissance, patrolling, assault and bombing missions with high precision.”

They do, however, have a habit of exaggerating their capabilities a bit too much, though. In 2010, Iran claimed to have successfully tested a “radar-evading” drone, the Sofreh Mahi (announced somewhat ludicrously in the propaganda arm Fars News next to a photo of the American B-2 bomber breaking the sound barrier). The “ambassador of death,” the bombing drone Karrar, is probably closer to an envoy of annoyance.

Iran also has a habit of outright lying about its weapons prowess in general, sometimes to the point of absurdity. While Iran has certainly made some strides in its domestic drones development, they’re likely shy of the awe-inspiring machinery of mass death the Mullahs would have you believe.

Photo: Iran-Airshow.com

26-09-11, 02:43 PM
Sep 26, 2011 08:00 EDT

British MoD publicly released its joint doctrine approach to UAS’s [PDF]. Why define UAV doctrine? Well, from the introduction: ”[i]n the absence of any higher level policy, all UAS currently used by UK armed forces have been procured or leased under the Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) process.” See table on page 3-13 for a flowchart to assist the key decision: is manned vs. unmanned the right choice given any specific mission?


It's 102 pages..............I might read it IF I ever get really, really bored........:blah

27-09-11, 02:00 AM
Fire-X at Yuma Proving Ground

Posted on September 26, 2011 by The Editor

Luis Avila, senior flight mechanic, prepares the Fire-X unmanned aerial system for a recent test at YPG (Photo by Mark Schauer)

The MQ-8B Fire Scout was the first UAS to land on a moving ship without being controlled by a ground-based operator and, five years later, a new version of the platform dubbed the Fire-X is currently undergoing test at YPG. “It provides a heavier lift capability than the Fire Scout, is faster, and can fly higher,” said Darryl Abling, test and evaluation site manager for Northrop Grumman. “It’s not designed to replace the Fire Scout platform, but to complement its capabilities as a part of a family of systems.”

Based on the Bell 407, a conventional manned helicopter, the Fire-X’s designers removed the typical flight controls and replaced them with unmanned avionics similar to those on the Fire Scout. The platform’s designers calculated flight models for the aircraft in various conditions and seek to validate them with real-world testing at the proving ground.

“Fire-X is being subjected to very rigorous flight tests,” said John Penny, test officer. “We want to ensure the system is more than capable of meeting our customer’s requirements. YPG provides a great place for us to accomplish these activities.”

This intense phase of testing will consist of missions across the proving ground’s vast ranges that simulate the kind of action the platform would see in theatre. It could be something relatively simple like taking a surveillance photo of a given waypoint, or more complex tasks like touching down to deliver simulated medical supplies or ammunition.

YPG’s highly instrumented ranges and support capabilities also allow the platform’s targeting laser to be tested on moving military vehicles. Live fire could even be incorporated into the testing. None of this would be possible without YPG’s more than 2,000 square miles of restricted airspace over the desolate range: if the platform failed during a test, it would crash far from any populated area.

“YPG has sunny weather year-round and a wide-open range with restricted airspace, so we don’t have to worry about non-participating civilian aircraft coming through,” said Abling. “It gives us the flexibility we need to do envelope expansion testing, which is inherently risky. The support we get from YPG range personnel is nothing less than superb.”

“There are not many places in the world with the assets, infrastructure and support elements of YPG,” added Gene Hunt, YPG test officer managing the evaluation.

Source: Yuma Proving Ground

27-09-11, 08:07 AM
US-Turkey agree on delivery schedule for Predators

25 September 2011, Sunday / TODAY'S ZAMAN, ANKARA

Undated handout image courtesy of the US Air Force shows a MG-1 Predator unmanned aircraft. The US has agreed in principle to deploy US Predator drones on Turkish soil to aid in the fight against the PKK, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said. (Photo: Reuters)

Turkey is expecting the delivery of Predators in June 2012, the Turkish defense minister said a day after the country's prime minister announced that Turkey has agreed with the US on a deal involving the transfer of US-engineered unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that could prove crucial in combating terrorism.

“We have agreed in principle [on the delivery of Predators]. Negotiations will continue,” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was quoted as saying by the Cihan news agency on Saturday in New York, where the Turkish leader was visiting on the occasion of the 66th session of the UN General Assembly. Erdoğan also noted that Turkey had offered to either purchase or lease the drones and that the two countries were still settling the details regarding the delivery of the Predators.

Following up on the agreement, Turkish Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz told reporters on Saturday that the drones to be received from the US would be delivered to the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in June of next year, reported the Anatolia news agency.

“These [Predators] are UAVs with better qualities and features than the Herons,” Yılmaz said, and added that the Turkish-made Anka would also be ready for the TSK around the same time, as an alternative to Israeli-made Herons.

Turkey was disappointed by Israel's failure to return six Herons it had sent to the country for maintenance, as it relies heavily on spy aircraft for surveillance missions that gather data on the activities of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) across the country's borders in the Southeast.

Yılmaz did not give any details on the number of Predators the US would deliver to Turkey but acknowledged that Ankara had presented a request for the UAVs in line with the TSK's needs. The minister added that the US and Turkey have been strategic partners and are cooperating in combating terrorism, which necessitated that both “support each other with no conditions or prejudice.”

Meanwhile, the domestically made Anka, named after the legendary flying creature of Persian mythology, was brought out of the hangar for the first time in July 2010 and is expected to provide Turkey with a crucial advantage in its fight against PKK terrorism. The Anka is capable of disrupting the electronic ware of enemy aircraft and has made Turkey the third country in the world, after the US and Israel, to engineer UAVs.

27-09-11, 08:11 AM
Vulture UAV Could Replace Downed Satellites

Sep 26, 2011

By Graham Warwick

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA. – The U.S. Navy is showing interest in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Vulture solar-powered, ultra-endurance unmanned aircraft as a means of providing communications to carrier strike groups if satellites are knocked out.

The Vulture program is developing technology for an unmanned aircraft able to stay aloft for up to five years. Boeing is designing a full-scale demonstrator with 30 days of endurance, which is planned to fly in the first quarter of 2014.

“There is a lot of interest from the Navy in using Vulture for the joint aerial layer network, to provide the carrier strike group with communications when satellites are not available,” says Craig Nickol, an engineer at NASA Langley Research Center, Va.

NASA is providing technical support to Darpa on the Vulture program, building on its earlier work on high-altitude, long-endurance solar-powered UAVs, says Nickol at an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics conference in Virginia Beach, Va.

The Vulture will use solar arrays on the wing, booms and tails to collect energy during the day. This will be stored in regenerative fuel cells that will then power the distributed electric propulsion system through the night, ideally without any loss of altitude.

The 400-ft.-wingspan demonstrator is planned to be built and flown under Phase 2 of the Vulture program, which began late last year with the award of an $89 million cost-share contract to Boeing, which is teamed with solar-powered UAV developer Qinetiq.

The preliminary design review (PDR), planned for the end of this year, has slipped into early 2012. “Closing the PDR will be a challenge. They are not there yet, but there is a path to get there,” says Nickol.

Critical design review is planned for the fourth quarter of 2012.

The demonstrator will be flown at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, which has FAA approval to conduct unmanned aircraft flight testing. If there is a problem during the 30-day flight, the aircraft can be diverted to nearby restricted airspace of White Sand Missile Range or flown out over the Gulf of Mexico and ditched, he says.

At 400-ft., the demonstrator will be substantially larger than NASA’s 247-ft.-span AeroVironment Helios solar-powered UAV, which set an altitude record of more than 96,000 ft. in 2001. Helios broke up in flight in 2003 after encountering turbulence.

Plans to first fly a subscale, 80-ft.-span test vehicle to validate aeroelastic design tools for the highly flexible full-scale Vulture airframe were dropped when the budget for Phase 2 was cut, increasing program risk, says Nickol, who adds the capability “is compelling.”

Boeing Concept

Photo credit: Boeing

28-09-11, 04:38 PM
Boeing Phantom Eye Ready for Hydrogen Flights

Posted on September 28, 2011 by The Editor

Photo: Boeing

Boeing is looking to fly its company-funded Phantom Eye hydrogen-fuelled, long-endurance unmanned aircraft in late October or early November at Edwards Air Force Base, California.The twin-engine, 150-ft.-wingspan demonstrator is due to be rolled out onto the dry lakebed at Edwards this weekend for an integrated fuelling, engine run and defueling test.

“This will be the first time we have fully fuelled the aircraft with liquid hydrogen, run the engines, shut them down and defueled,” says Darryl Davis, Boeing Phantom Works president.

First flight of the Phantom Eye has been slipped four weeks to the last week of October or first week of November to allow more software and mission-related testing “to be ultra-sure,” he says.

The goal of the internally funded programme is to demonstrate up to four days of endurance at 65,000 ft. The aircraft will not have a payload for these flights, but is being looked at as a test-bed for payloads now under development.

“There is a lot of interest, for different uses,” Davis says. “We are looking at communications relay and potential sensor payloads, including for missile defence.”

The Phantom Eye could be used to flight test an aerial layer network communication payload now being prototyped by the Phantom Works, he says.

Boeing completed two company-funded flights of the Phantom Eye at Edwards earlier this year, but has parked the tailless flying wing after failing to secure a customer to fund further flights.

28-09-11, 04:40 PM
Phantom Ray Mothballed

Posted on September 28, 2011 by The Editor

According to Daryl Davis, chief of Boeing’s Phantom Works division, Boeing’s Phantom Ray is being put into storage, now that it’s successfully completed its test flights. The company is going to keep the aircraft in flyable condition with the hopes of dusting it off to contribute to the optionally-manned portion of the Air Force’s long range bomber project — a programme that is in development and that the air service will fight to protect it from cancellation during the coming budget cuts.

Source: Defense Tech

28-09-11, 04:42 PM
Block 10 Global Hawks Transfer from US Air Force to Other Government Agencies

Posted on September 28, 2011 by The Editor

A US Air Force Block 10 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft, built by Northrop Grumman, completed its last mission in late May. The last Block 10 to fly as an Air Force aircraft was the one with the most flight hours, more than 7,650 with more than 7,000 of those hours flown providing surveillance for our combat troops.

“For many years Block 10 Global Hawks have persistently performed countless missions in support of the war-fighter and in support of disaster relief efforts,” said George Guerra, HALE Systems vice president, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “While the aircraft have concluded their missions and support for the Air Force, they will now support missions for the US Navy.”

The US Air Force (USAF) is transferring its seven Block 10 aircraft for use by other government agencies. Currently, three were transferred to the U.S. Navy to continue to support the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Demonstration (BAMS-D) programme and two were transferred for museum static displays.

In August, the Navy awarded Northrop Grumman a $35.5 million annual contract for continued operations and maintenance for the BAMS-D aircraft.

All seven Air Force Block 10 Global Hawks are fully operational. The Block 10 made its first flight on Sept. 9, 2003. Since then, Air Force Block 10 aircraft flew 2,141 missions for 35,528 hours, 89 per cent of which were in support of combat operations. In addition to combat missions, the aircraft supported disaster response teams addressing forest fires, earthquakes, hurricanes and floods and also provided support to the U.S. counter-drug mission.

After DARPA’s initial seven ACTD aircraft, the Air Force contracted with Northrop Grumman to build nine Block 10s as a transitional capability until the larger Block 20 configuration could begin production. Two of the Block 10 aircraft were acquired for the Navy BAMS-D programme in the original procurement programme.

The US Air Force has deployed Block 30 Global Hawks to support the missions once supported by Block 10 aircraft. The Block 30 Global Hawks currently deployed are equipped with the Raytheon Enhanced Integrated Sensor Suite (EISS). EISS includes electro optical/infrared and synthetic aperture radar. Within the next year, the Block 30 aircraft will be reconfigured to include Northrop Grumman’s multi-intelligence sensor package, the Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload, in addition to EISS.

Source: Press Release

28-09-11, 04:43 PM
Aurora Get US Air Force RPA Manufacturing Technology Contract

Posted on September 28, 2011 by The Editor

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) recently selected Aurora Flight Sciences for the Manufacturing Technologies for Remotely Piloted Vehicles (MaTeR) programme. Over the next eighty-four months, Aurora will develop and improve manufacturing processes for all aspects of Remotely Piloted Vehicles/Aircraft, which include both the airborne and ground components.

Aurora’s initial work will focus on affordable airframe production technology and manufacturing technology for propulsion systems. Aurora’s team includes Textron, Rolls Royce North America, Goodrich Corporation, Honeywell Aerospace, Williams International, and United Technologies Corporation.

“Innovative manufacturing technologies currently under development in laboratories today will revolutionize the remotely piloted aircraft of tomorrow,” stated Javier deLuis, who leads Aurora’s Research and Development Center. “By applying these technologies to current and future military programmes, we will significantly lower the cost of developing future vehicles as well as the cost of sustaining our current fleet. As the cost, complexity, and development time of new platforms threatens to eclipse our capability to support them, we must focus on technological innovation that will drive affordability.”

The goal of the MaTeR programme is to demonstrate the key manufacturing technologies in the areas of electronics, power and propulsion, advanced structures, and modelling and simulation that will significantly impact affordability, development schedules, and operational availability of Air Force RPA.

Source: Press Release

28-09-11, 04:45 PM
10 Flocking Unmanned Aircraft

Posted on September 28, 2011 by The Editor

Uploaded by epflnews on Sep 26, 2011
Inexpensive and easy to use MAVs, developed by Severin Leven and Sensefly, are shown here to be able to flock in formations up to ten robots. The project, presented by Sabine Hauert from EPFL's Laboratory of Intelligent Systems, will be shown at the IROS 2011 annual meeting.

Inexpensive and easy to use MAVs, developed by Severin Leven and Swiss-based Sensefly, are shown here to be able to flock in formations up to ten aircraft. The project, presented by Sabine Hauert from EPFL‘s Laboratory of Intelligent Systems, will be shown at the IROS 2011, the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems being held September 25-30, 2011, San Francisco, California.

SenseFly recently won first prize for the “Most Innovative UAV Application and Demonstration“ sponsored by the Hexagon Technology Center/Leica Geosystems at the UAV-g Conference in Zurich, Switzerland.

Sources: YouTube, Web Site

30-09-11, 03:20 AM
Drone Helos the Only Choppers on Display at MDM ’11

The only helos on display at this years’ Modern Day Marine expo at Marine Corps Base Quantico reflect constant need for supply and intel for troops on the ground – be they Leathernecks or GI Joes.

One, the K-MAX, is a battleship gray, cargo-carrying aircraft designed to fly sans pilot, though there’s a cockpit in place the event that human touch is desired or needed. Further along the midway is a small, sleek black Boeing A160 Hummingbird helo (shown above).

There’s no cockpit in this chopper, which is being used as a stealthy eye in the sky.

“It’s completely unmanned, completely autonomous,” said Mansik Johng of Boeing, which picked up the program when it bought the company originally developing under DARPA funding it in 2004. “It can stay [aloft] about 18.7 hours. In fact, it set a world record for endurance for this class of vehicle.”

A primary customer is Special Operations Command, which has plans to acquire up to 20 of the black birds up through 2017, though the company also has a $30 million contract to supply two to Naval Air Systems Command, Johng said.

The company is preparing an unspecified number of Hummingbirds for their first deployment to Afghanistan in the coming year.

“It can carry different payloads,” he said, pointing out the Hellfire missiles mock-up on the Quantico display. “But primarily this is more of an ISR aircraft.”

Meanwhile, the K-MAX (shown above) is described as “a workhorse” that will ferry supplies and material out to combat forces in the field.

K-MAX is a Kaman Aircraft helicopter. The company has partnered up with Lockheed Martin to fully develop the helo as an autonomous or remotely controlled aircraft. Lockheed said it made a good showing of its capabilities a year ago, when a K-MAX carried more than 3,000 pounds of cargo to three pre-programmed delivery coordinates, delivering the cargo by sling autonomously, during a demonstration for the Marine Corps at the Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah.

The Corps intends to pick up three of the aircraft for use in Afghanistan, according to reports. Lockheed spokeswoman Alexandra Wildfong said the K-MAX completed a required a Quick Reaction Assessment recently out in Arizona.

“We are currently waiting on a decision whether we’re going to deploy these in theater,” she said.

– Bryant Jordan

Read more: http://defensetech.org/2011/09/29/only-unmanned-aircraft-on-display-at-mdm-11/#ixzz1ZOVyRY8e

30-09-11, 12:24 PM
Thales Watchkeeper Video Update

Posted on September 30, 2011 by The Editor

Video here: http://bcove.me/0ro8np77

Nick Miller, Thales Business Director for ISTAR and Unmanned Aircraft, presents the Watchkeeper’s capabilities and production schedule. The interview was filmed recently at the DSEi 2011 in England

Source: Flight Global

30-09-11, 12:26 PM
‘Future Skies’ UA Pilot Training Programme in Australia

Posted on September 30, 2011 by The Editor

Australia’s V-TOL Aerospace (V-TOL), a relative new comer to the aviation industry, and the Royal Queensland Aero Club (RQAC), with roots stemming back to 1910, are developing and preparing to teach the first certified Australian unmanned aircraft (UA) training courses through their specialist training organisations. The courses will be delivered via eLearning and at Archerfield, in Queensland, the site of the first CASA Level 1 UA Pilot training test programme successfully completed in June this year.

V-TOL launched the Australian Unmanned Systems Academy (AUSA) during 2009 to develop and deliver unmanned systems technology education and training programmes. The RQAC’s Airline Academy of Australia (AAA) is a QANTAS approved and internationally recognised manned aircraft training organisation. Together, the Academies provide a strong natural “fit” to offer the first recognised “ab initio” UA pilot courses.

Known as the Future Skies programmes, they will include a mix of residential and eLearning pilot and technical maintenance training courses. The courses will focus on qualifying individuals in both manned and unmanned aircraft systems to ensure that the emerging and future commercial UA opportunities can be serviced at a sustainable rate while not limiting a student’s careers to a single outcome.

In support of this theme, Future Skies programmes are being developed to broadly target the core human resource of the future UA industry, our youth. It is clear that the emerging UA industry will require a new generation of highly trained pilots and engineers focused on the safety of all airspace users while supporting UA commercial operations ranging from general aviation to mining, agriculture, emergency services, policing, space and undersea exploration, to name just a few.

Future Skies youth programmes have been designed to be delivered through existing education organisations and in conjunction with the University of Queensland students will also have the opportunity to progress to graduate and postgraduate degrees in unmanned systems.

With the appropriate level of support some of the first graduates in the operation, maintenance and piloting of unmanned aircraft systems will come from Australian youth organisations via the Future Skies UA programmes.

In addition to providing export services revenue, this joint innovation of V-TOL and RQAC has the potential to place Australia at the forefront of global unmanned systems development, and as a supplier of highly trained human capital to industry. The programme is already attracting interest from Australasia to the Middle East.

Source: Press Release

03-10-11, 07:42 AM
Las Cruces area to host testing of 'pseudo-satellite'

By Reyes Mata III rmata@lcsun-news.com

Posted: 10/01/2011 12:17:26 AM MDT

T. Bear Larson of T. Bear Larson & Associates Inc., explains some of... (Norm Dettlaff / Sun-News)«1»LAS CRUCES - Airborne technology that can monitor terror movements and analyze crop soil - or even replace a region's devastated telecommunications infrastructure in an instant - will soon be tested in the skies 20 miles outside of Las Cruces.

It's a $5.5 million Vulture II Program funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), or the "mad scientist" branch of the U.S. Department of Defense, as Dave May refers to it.

"I tell people that this is the kind of program that you tell your grandkids about," said May, the deputy director of Global Unmanned Aircraft Systems Strategic Initiatives. He's the program manager for New Mexico State University's Physical Science laboratory, which is the technical team charged with showing the world the value of this versatile technology. He was part of the buzz on Friday morning at NMSU's O'Donnell Hall, where the university officially unveiled the project to the campus and community.

The Vulture II technology would enable a 5,000-pound, 400-foot by 75-foot unmanned aircraft to remain afloat for more than five years to provide a continual flow of "intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance ... over an area of interest," according to a news release on the project. This has both military and commercial value, said Vimal Chaitanya, NMSU's vice president for research.

"Instead of a satellite, you have a command center for war or a communication center for the Internet, or surveillance for border security," he said.

"You can also do non-defense uses, how your crop is doing, monitoring the fertilizer in your soil," he added.

Doug Davis, director of the Global UAS Strategic Initiatives for the PSL, elaborates: "It's a 'pseudo-satellite.' If a situation like a tsunami or an earthquake destroys your infrastructure on the ground, you would have the ability to put the aircraft in orbit with an immediate capabilities replacement," he said. "It would no longer take three years to replace the infrastructure, to replace phone service, Internet - all the telecommunications - it would take a day or two."

The Boeing-designed aircraft will arrive to the 260-acre assembly grounds at the Jornada Range, on land owned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture just north of Las Cruces. Before it arrives, the facility necessary to put the complicated aircraft together needs to be constructed. It will consist of a 3,000-foot landing and launch pad, a hangar, a whole lot of airspace, and a team of experts.

"This is the only place this research can happen," Chaitanya said. "The expertise that our employees have, the facilities available at the physical science lab, and the ability to fly the experimental plane in a large civilian air space" made the Las Cruces region the ideal location, he said.

The facility will be completed by the spring of 2013, said T. Bear Larson, the test director and manager of the project. The three-month process of assembling the aircraft then will begin leading to the five-flight testing of the aircraft in the summer of 2014.

Reyes Mata III can be reached at (575) 541-5405.

03-10-11, 09:39 AM
Mundus Group Celebrates 10 Years of “Green Aerospace” US Navy Co-Developed Electric UAV Technology

Posted on October 3, 2011 by The Editor

Commencing in 2001 and completed in 2004, Mundus Group‘s designated division Air Drone is currently a continuation of the 1st UAV VTOL prototype that was co-developed with strategic partner Roadable Aircraft Inc. and the US Navy under a 3 year Co-operative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA). The all-electric ducted fan was an 81-inch ducted fan UAV VTOL that was built and flight tested to develop the flight controls and remote controllability of RAI’s 2 passenger VTOL cruiser for which RAI was awarded a US Patent.

“When we first developed our ducted fan technology prior to our CRADA contract to research, develop and finally patent with the US Navy in 2000, we were working with jet turbine driveshaft technology. UAVs and drones were not yet on the horizon at the pre 911 stage of development. Building the first all electric ducted fan was a cost effective decision that led us to consider a smaller prototype to develop the control system. Using electric motors was a second choice we made to keep secrecy and our ability to do flight tests inside a Navy Test facility. We did not realize that we were planting the seeds of a Green UAV Aerospace industry with zero emissions,” Chairman Keith Field

The Mundus Group, Inc. is an advanced aerospace technology consortium providing patented Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) technology for experimental aircraft and Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV) since 1990 through its fully owned VTOL division, Roadable Aircraft International (RAI).

Source: Press Release

03-10-11, 09:41 AM
NOAA’s GALE to Fly into the Eye of a Hurricane

Posted on October 3, 2011 by The Editor

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in partnership with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, has developed GALE, its own unmanned aircraft. Measuring 3 feet long and weighing 8 pounds, the $30,000 unmanned aircraft is made of hard composites and powered by an electronic motor. It cruises at about 55 mph and can stay aloft for about 1.5 hours before falling into the ocean, never to be used again.

It will be launched from the belly of a hurricane hunter turboprop, initially shot out of a tube as a cylinder. Then it will sprout wings and fly into the core of a hurricane, where it will feed wind speeds and other atmospheric data into computer models that project a storm’s track and strength.

“It gives us a better understanding of how the ocean is interacting with the atmosphere,” said Joe Cione, project leader with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “Right now, the models are guessing at what’s going on down there.We’re going to be pretty much out in the middle of nowhere when we deploy these,” Cione said. The first one will be flight-tested in coming weeks; then two of them will be flown into two separate hurricanes next year. Pilots based on the ground will control them via satellite link, Cione said.

Initially, it will be dropped into the eye of a hurricane, where the winds are usually calm, said Massood Towhidnejad, a professor of software engineering at Embry-Riddle. It will remain there, collecting data, until it is almost out of power. Then it will be directed into the hurricane’s eye wall, where the winds are tumultuous. At that point, the tiny plane will become uncontrollable, Towhidnejad said. ”We’re basically hoping this thing will last as long as it can,” he said. “The wind forces will take over and cause it to rotate. But that’s exactly what we want.” That violent rotation, he said, will become another means to determine a storm’s strength and structure.

While the hurricane center has dramatically improved track forecasts, it has made little progress with intensity forecasts. That’s because forecasters haven’t been able to detailed information about the inner workings of the eyewall, said specialist James Franklin. “This device has the potential to gather data we can’t typically get,” he said. “If the aircraft can successfully linger in the hurricane eyewall at very low levels, that would be an exciting advance.” Still, it’s too early to know how much of an impact GALE will have on the “intensity forecast problem,” he said.

It won’t be the first time an unmanned aircraft has investigated tropical systems. A similarly small plane, called an Aerosonde, was first flown into Hurricane Ophelia in September 2005, when it was threatening North Carolina. More recently, a Global Hawk turbine-powered aircraft, designed to stay aloft more than 30 hours at high altitude, was deployed into some of last year’s storms.

Source: The Sun Sentinel

03-10-11, 02:37 PM
Pentagon Wants to Cover Its Drones With Insects’ Tiny Hairs

By Dawn Lim October 3, 2011 | 6:30 am

For years, the military has turned to the birds and the bees for inspiration, churning out mechanical hummingbirds and remote-controlled insect cyborgs. Now the Pentagon wants its mini-drones to have hairy wings and bug eyes, too. It’ll help the tiny machines spy on — and creep out — any enemies, military researchers promise.

MAVs or Micro Air Vehicles are tiny, hovering bots that have been deployed for battlefield reconnaissance. But they’re still as limited as they are small. MAVs can’t really navigate urban environments or maintain a stable hover when the wind suddenly shifts. ”Get them among buildings or give them something to do near the ground — and they’re helpless,” James Paduano, chief engineer for bio-inspired development projects at Aurora Flight Sciences Research & Development Center, told Danger Room.

So the Pentagon just handed out research awards to make bug eye-structures that look out for obstacles and “micro-feather/hair covered membrane wings for a flapping wing MAV” that sense gusts of wind. The goal is to allow these robo-spies to interact with the environment on their own. The research could turn drones like the military’s Wasps into even more effective surveillance machines.

Nature will be the engineers’ muse. A project to equip MAVs with hair-like sensors hopes to produce “the flight efficiency and agility of the hawkmoth,” the insect known for its hovering flight patterns. To figure out how MAVs could keep flying smoothly even when the wind pipes up, another group is looking at how hair cells on bees’ bodies sense changes in air flow.

Paduano’s engineering team, with the help of University of Maryland researchers, also wants to give MAVs the kind of crazy compound eyes that insects have. They’re sticking tiny cameras and processors onto a maneuverable aircraft called the “Skate” to replicate what a bug eye does. The cameras will transmit visual cues to an image-processing minicomputer — the kind used in cellphones — which will direct the aircraft to navigate the environment, swerving around corners, if necessary.

“Figuring out how to make a MAV move around a cluttered environment is a really tough problem,” said Paduano. “We’re figuring out what a bug can do first, and then worrying about what a human or bird can do.”

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

04-10-11, 01:39 AM

A Defense Technology Blog

Italy's Unmanned Aircraft Hat-trick

Posted by Robert Wall at 10/3/2011 10:33 AM CDT

Unmanned aircraft use in civil airspace is the panacea for the growth of the industry, but reaching that target has been difficult because of a range of technology and regulatory hurdles.

However, an Italian team of industry, academia and regulatory bodies hopes to have cleared many of those hurdles during a recent demonstration as part of the so-called SMAT F1 project -- the first phase of an advanced land monitoring effort.

The group on September 30 operated three different unmanned aircraft from civil airfields in civil airspace over land. It is the combination of these activities taking place over Levaldigi, Benevagienna and Turin that is the particular accomplishment.

Here is a video of some of the activities.

Uploaded by TheSidelobe on Oct 3, 2011
Italy has flown three different unmanned aircraft in overland, civil air space. If the industry can convince regulators those types of operations are safe, it could unleash new markets. Video of the event from Finmeccanica, which provided two of the three UAVs -- Sky-Y and Falco (the other is the C-Fly from Nimbus)

The unmanned aircraft involved were the Alenia Aeronautica Sky-Y, the Selex Galileo Falco and Nimbus’s C-Fly.

In announcing the trial, Giuseppe Giordo, Alenia’s CEO calls it “a real record” for his Finmeccanica unit. “We’re committed to fostering innovation that will enable us to work with international partners to develop a competitive product in this promising market segment.”

04-10-11, 02:04 AM
HQ-4 Xianglong UAV Ready for Flight

A model of the Xianglong High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) UAV.

The Chinese Xianglong ‘Soaring Dragon’ UAV was recently seen at Chengdu seemingly prepared for the first test flight. The Soaring Dragon uses an innovative ‘joined wing’ design, employing a conventional swept wing joined with a forward swept wing. A model depicting this configurationwas shown at the Zuhai China Airshow 2006.

Xianglong is powered by a single jet engine is mounted on top of the fuselage, between the forward-swept tail wings. Xianglong has a normal take-off weight of 7,500kg. Cruising at a speed of 750km/h, Xianglong has a maximum range of 7,000km. The UAV carries a mission payload of 650kg.

A different type of jet-powered unmanned aerial vehicle, developed under a joint venture between the Guizhou Aviation Group and the Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute (CADI) is also designated Xianglong. It flew its maiden flight on November 7, 2009. It was a smaller design, roughly the size of a Predator, this version of Xianglong was fitted with a V tail and swept wings witha span larger than the current design.

Uploaded by himitechworld on Sep 30, 2011
Xianglong ("Soar Dragon") Reconnaissance UAV ground test on September 30. 2011

04-10-11, 02:15 PM
New Mexico State University Gets DARPA Contract for Vulture Flight Testing

Posted on October 4, 2011 by The Editor

New Mexico State University on September 30 announced that its Physical Science Laboratory is partnering with the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in developing and testing DARPA’s Vulture unmanned aircraft programme.The Vulture II Programme, a joint venture between DARPA and Boeing, is centered around a new type of UAS with a 400-foot wingspan, weighing just 5,000 pounds. The objective of the Vulture programme is to develop and demonstrate the technology to enable an airborne payload to remain on-station, uninterrupted for more than five years, performing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and communication missions. A mixture of solar cells and solid oxide fuel cells will power the vehicle. The system has potential in numerous roles: operation as a single platform, as a formation of multiple aircraft, or as a constellation providing infrastructure augmentation or recovery.

“This is really exciting,” said retired Air Force Col. T. Bear Larson, who is NMSU’s point of contact with DARPA. “We think this is a great opportunity for you guys to see some of our technology and maybe help us out in areas that you are strong in. We love the facilities out here. Everything about this is exciting to me. This technology intrigues me.”

The programme technology enables a re-taskable, persistent pseudo-satellite capability in an aircraft package. It combines the key benefits of an aircraft – flexibility and responsiveness, sensor resolution, reduced transmit/receive power and affordability – with the benefits of space assets, such as on-station persistence, no logistics tail, energy independence, fleet size and absence of an in-country footprint.

“It’s quite an extraordinary accomplishment that’s going to bring plenty of attention to New Mexico State University and possibly similar agreements in the future,” NMSU President Barbara Couture said. “The initial contract is for about $2.5 million, and we expect, if this is successful, for more contracts to be down the road. This is a truly experimental aircraft. It’s going to be a very exciting, unusual mission here right in our back yard in Las Cruces.”

NMSU’s PSL will be involved in addressing a variety of technology challenges for the massive UAV, including developing energy management and reliability technologies capable of allowing the aircraft to operate continuously for five years. The Vulture program will conduct full-scale technology maturation and demonstration activities to prove out critical technologies. Its intent is to advance technology and break the mindset that aircraft are defined by launch, recovery and maintenance cycles. Program success would allow a continuous operating airborne platform to remain on-station for multiple years and would greatly increase capabilities of the Department of Defense. In addition, NMSU/PSL will apply their airworthiness assessment, risk analysis and excellent safety record with unmanned aircraft in developing a safe operation to minimize impact to other airspace users.

NMSU is the only FAA Authorized Unmanned Aircraft System Flight Test Center in the United States, allowing for UAS operations in the National Airspace System or civilian airspace.

The NMSU/PSL portion of the project will continue through the conclusion of flight testing, which is expected to last into the third quarter of fiscal year 2014. DARPA determined that NMSU/PSL was the only entity capable of meeting the unique facilities, airspace and technical expertise required to oversee and conduct the flight testing of the Vulture while also meeting airspace, available frequency spectrum and takeoff and landing requirements.

“We’re going to have a building ready in early 2013 and start assembling the vehicle out here,” Larson said. “Our intent is to fly sorties of less than three hours to understand the airframe, and then start climbing up in altitude, with the culmination a 30-day flight test to demonstrate it can fly. Then we’ll bring it back down and do a forensic analysis on all the components. We’re really looking forward to this.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has given NMSU/PSL permission to build the airport for the Vulture testing on its land at the Jornada Experimental Range, northeast of Las Cruces. The vehicle will require a 3,000-foot diameter circle for level takeoffs. USDA also partners with NMSU/PSL for its UAS program. They use a small UAS for their remote sensing program for ecological applications, including access to airspace, image acquisition, terrain extraction, orthorectification, mosaicking, vegetation classification, geometric and classification accuracies and operational workflows.

Formed though a partnership between the Federal Aviation Administration and NMSU, the UAS Flight Test Center supports the integration of unmanned systems into the National Airspace System and operates the only FAA approved UAS FTC in the U.S. With more than 13 years of experience and expertise in UAS integration, operations and research and development, it collects data during unmanned flights in public, non-restricted airspace to assist the FAA in the development of standards and regulations for UAS operators.

The UAS FTC’s agreement with the FAA allows it to operate flights in more than 15,000 square miles of airspace in southwestern New Mexico. Facilities include a 15,000-square-foot hangar at the Las Cruces International Airport dedicated exclusively to UAS operations, and office facilities and technical support are available on the NMSU campus.

Source: Press Release

04-10-11, 02:16 PM
Taiwan UAS Ready for Service

Posted on October 4, 2011 by The Editor

Taiwan-developed unmanned aircraft will be commissioned early next year as part of the military’s efforts to build up asymmetric/innovative defense capabilities, a local newspaper reported on Monday. A total of 32 UAS have been produced in the initial stage, with eight to be deployed in each of the country’s four major combat sectors, the Chinese-language China Times daily said. Citing unnamed senior officials, the paper said the indigenously produced UAS can fly as high as 6,000 feet and stay in the air for up to 12 hours. If Taiwan is threatened, the officials said, the remotely piloted aircraft would be able to fly into China’s southeastern coastal airspace to conduct instant reconnaissance missions.

The following is an excerpt from the China Times report on the UAS development project:

The UAS were developed by the military-run Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (CIST) under a plan code-named “Chunghsiang No. 1.”

They were unveiled at a Double Ten National Day military parade in 2007 for the first time. Over the following three years, they underwent numerous test flights in the country’s Hankuang and Changsheng military drills. The aircraft managed to meet combat requirements early this year. In April, eight of them were deployed into two squadrons for experimental service at various army bases around Taiwan. They have been repainted gray and will be displayed during the centennial National Day military parade October 10.

Military officials said the CIST has spent 10 years developing the UAS. Initially, the aircraft were supposed to be deployed on the outlying frontline islands to give them access to Chinese airspace in the event of a cross-strait war. As tension in the Taiwan Strait has eased in recent years, however, the military has decided to deploy them only at various military bases on Taiwan proper.

Intelligence sources said China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) already deployed 11 JWP-2 unmanned aerial vehicles and command vehicles at its base at Meizhou Airport in Guangdong Province early this year.

According to the sources, the PLA’s JWP-2 UAS were showcased in China’s 60th National Day military review in 2009. The Chinese-developed UAS can be used for wartime reconnaissance and can also be disguised as cruise missiles to consume Taiwan’s expensive and limited number of air-to air defence missiles.

Source: Focus Taiwan

05-10-11, 12:40 PM
ScanEagle Monitors Whales in Australia

Posted on October 5, 2011 by The Editor

Insitu Pacific, the Australia-based subsidiary of Insitu Inc., announced yesterday that it has concluded the second phase of a landmark trial conducted in partnership with Murdoch University that aims to determine if unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are a cost-effective, capable alternative to manned assets for surveying marine mammals. During the two-week operation, Insitu Pacific’s ScanEagle UAS captured up to 3,000 images of humpback whales daily. The trial also demonstrated ScanEagle’s ability to operate effectively in Class G commercial airspace, a key step toward expanding civil airspace to incorporate unmanned systems more widely.

“Flying for a long time, at a low altitude, well off the coast is a high-risk mission for a manned aircraft. Unmanned systems offer an alternative,” says Insitu Pacific Managing Director Andrew Duggan. “ScanEagle is not only safer than manned aircraft for monitoring mammals, it is also environmentally friendlier. Fuel consumption is an order of magnitude less than manned aircraft.” ScanEagle can fly for more than 24 hours at a time on less than five quarts of fuel.

Ideal for operation in remote locations, the runway-independent ScanEagle aircraft was launched, controlled and retrieved from North Stradbroke Island, off the coast of Queensland, Australia. A high-resolution digital still camera was fitted alongside a typical ScanEagle electro-optic payload. Previous field trials in October 2010 were conducted in Western Australia.

Because UAS offer a safe alternative to manned flight for high-risk missions like this, Insitu Pacific expects to see UAS used more frequently for purposes like this in the future.

Source: Press Release

06-10-11, 02:20 AM
KMAX to Begin Hauling Cargo for Marines in Afghanistan Next Month

During the recent five-day Quick Reaction Assessment for the U.S. Navy's Cargo Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) program, the corps confirmed that the unmanned K-MAX has met and exceeded the Navy and Marines' requirement to deliver 6,000 pounds of cargo per day. The photo shows the KMAX at an earlier test in January this year. Photo: Lockheed Martin

The U.S. Marine Corps plans to deploy the unmanned K-MAX to Afghanistan in November 2011. Following a successful evaluation of the unmanned helicopter, during the five-day Quick Reaction Assessment for the U.S. Navy’s Cargo Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) program, the corps confirmed that the unmanned K-MAX has met and exceeded the Navy and Marines’ requirement to deliver 6,000 pounds of cargo per day.

K-MAX will be the Navy’s first-ever cargo unmanned aircraft system to deploy in an operational environment. The deploying team consists of active duty mission commanders, air vehicle operators and company employees has recently concluded training and flight tests at its base in Twenty-nine Palms, Calif., and is currently preparing the aircraft for shipment into theater.

Since partnering in 2007, Lockheed Martin and Kaman Aerospace have successfully transformed Kaman’s proven K-MAX power-lift manned helicopter into a UAS capable of autonomous or remote controlled cargo delivery.

Next Month, Unmanned K-MAX to Begin Operations in Afghanistan. Photo: Lockheed Martin

06-10-11, 02:30 AM
iSTART UAV unveiled

October 05, 2011

iStart new one man UAV Unmanned Aerial Vehicle at DSEI 2011

A pioneering Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) developed by Bedford-based BlueBear Systems, has been launched to acclaim from the defence industry.

The iSTART is a small, lightweight UAS that can be operated by a single user and is designed for use in military, law enforcement and civilian applications. With an endurance of 40 minutes the iSTART feeds real-time electro-optical or infrared video footage to a ground control station giving a bird's eye view of the terrain.

Unmanned air systems are often used for the most dangerous military missions, providing surveillance of enemy activity from a safe distance. However, UASs are increasingly being used for diverse civil applications such as emergency service assistance, search and rescue and routine monitoring of difficult terrains. BlueBear recently delivered the Cybermoor ‘Flying Shepherd' project, which involved trialling the use of unmanned air systems to monitor livestock in remote areas. The trial was broadcast on BBC's Countryfile on Sunday 2 October 2011.

With a wingspan of just 75cm, iSTART is highly portable. The airframe, ground control station, and associated equipment fit into a single backpack. This allows the entire sytem to be carried by a single person on foot, in the boot of a car or on the load rack of a quad bike.

iSTART is easy to use. It is deployable using a rugged ground control system with a simple point and click user interface that enables fully automated flights. The operator does not need to manually fly the aircraft. The operator simply chooses the flight location and area to survey, sets the waypoints on the ground control station and specifies a landing location. The airframe is then launched by hand and the ensuing flight is automated - including the landing.

iSTART is rugged, modular and upgradeable. The hot swappable modular batteries and payloads facilitate maximum operational flexibility and the modular design allows the systems to be easily upgraded as technology moves forward.

The iSTART system is the first production UAS manufactured using Selected Laser Sintering (SLS) technology. BlueBear pioneered the use of this technology for UAS manufacture. The use of this technology enables the design and manufacture of complex structures rapidly and cost effectively.

iSTARTdeveloper, BlueBear Systems, is an innovative research and development consultancy that specialises in designing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Unmanned Aerial Systems using cutting-edge technology to extend the boundaries of what is possible.

Source: BlueBear

06-10-11, 03:08 PM
General Atomics Successfully Demonstrates Enhanced SAR-Based Maritime ISR Capabilities

Posted on October 6, 2011 by The Editor

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. has announced its successful participation in the recent US Navy Experiment Trident Warrior 2011 (TW11) off the coast of Virginia Beach, Virginia. Employing ships, aircraft, and land vehicles, TW11 is the Navy’s primary FORCEnet Sea Trial experiment series designed to evaluate emerging technologies and network-centric toolsets to enhance situational awareness for decision-makers across all levels of the naval chain of command.

During its July 25-29 participation, GA-ASI operated a Predator B UAS surrogate, a King Air aircraft, equipped with Predator B-type sensors and configured for maritime surveillance in support of fleet and homeland security objectives. GA-ASI’s Predator B surrogate performed a variety of overland and maritime Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions in the littoral environment that included surface vessel detection using the Lynx Multi-mode Radar, and Full-Motion Video (FMV) from a FLIR 380HD imaging system to discern vessel intent.

“Our primary objective was to provide real-time situational awareness by disseminating radar and EO/IR [Electro-Optical Infrared] data to Navy land-based and at-sea command and control [C2] nodes,” said Linden Blue, president, Reconnaissance Systems Group, GA-ASI. “The missions were executed with success, demonstrating the ability to detect, classify, and identify targets in various weather conditions in support of FAC [Fast Attack Craft], FIAC [Fast Inshore Attack Craft], MIO [Maritime Interdiction Operations], and land convoy operations.”

To support TW11, GA-ASI integrated a surrogate UAS platform (King Air 200) equipped with EO/IR, a Lynx Multi-mode Radar with Maritime Wide Area Search (MWAS) mode, and a Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL) data link system into the Navy’s C2 architecture. Flights originated from NAS Oceana and data was disseminated to the USS Vicksburg (CG 69) and the Combat Direction Systems Activity (CDSA) facility at Dam Neck. The Synthetic Aperture Radar/Ground Moving Target Indicator (SAR/GMTI) and FMV sensors were key to development of TW11’s overall tactical picture, demonstrating the versatility of the UAS in both littoral and overland surveillance missions.

GA-ASI achieved several “firsts” in TW11, such as sending ISR data directly to the USS Vicksburg (equipped with a prototype Intelligence Carry-On Program (ICOP) antenna), the Navy Video Targeting System (NVTS), and the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) for target analysis.

Source: Press Release

07-10-11, 02:36 AM
Lower-tech UAVs Boost Intel For British

Oct 6, 2011

By Angus Batey
Camp Bastion, Afghanistan

Although the technology focus remains on the transition from Hermes 450 to Watchkeeper unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), it is the subtler changes to platforms and operational concepts that deliver increased performance to the British Army. And while the tactical UAV continues to provide vital intelligence, it is the lower-tech, less glamorous platforms that are gaining in popularity with the troops whose missions they support.

The army’s UAV battery is based here, where a fleet of leased Hermes 450 aircraft is flown and maintained. But the battery, from 32 Regt. Royal Artillery, is also responsible for two other UAVs that deliver full-motion video (FMV) from forward locations. These are the hand-launched Lockheed Martin Desert Hawk III (DH3), and T‑Hawk, Honeywell’s vertical-takeoff-and-landing UAV, which is part of the Royal Engineers’ Talisman route-clearance system (DTI September 2010, p. 19).

Complementary to these are PGSS (Persistent Ground Surveillance System) aerostats, seven of which are deployed above bases in the British area of operations. These are operated and maintained by contractors, with support from 5 Regt. Royal Artillery liaison officers. The PGSS payload contains electro-optical and infrared sensors, which feed data into the Cortez network, permitting drag-and-drop viewing of multiple intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (Istar) sources for a location.

“The good thing about [Cortez] is it enables our cross-cueing piece,” says Capt. Alex Gray, operations officer of the UAV battery. “It could be that a base Istar asset picks something up then cross-cues a Hermes 450 onto it. It’s a useful and powerful tool.” Cross-cueing of layered assets generates detailed intelligence, showing information such as route obstructions and the type and size of structures, doors and windows.

DH3 also feeds FMV into Cortez. Eight of the battery’s 12 DH3 detachments are at bases across Helmand. Two more are on hand as a surge capability and to back-fill during deployment changeovers, while two others are mobile—one with the Brigade Reconnaissance Force, the other with the Warthog group.

“The key with DH3 is it’s quick into action,” says Gray. “It can get into the air in 5-8 min., and we’ve flown almost 2,000 flights on Herrick 14,” the U.K.’s Afghanistan deployment, which began in April.

The aircraft is programmed to return to a given position using GPS. It flies a U‑shaped profile on its way in, enabling it to assess local wind conditions and minimize impact on landing. The modular airframe disperses impact forces by breaking apart.

The new assisted trim landing (ATL) system gives greater control to the user during recovery, including the ability to manually flare for a gentler touchdown. The system was fielded in July.

“With [ATL], we can use the Xbox 360 control pad, which is usually used to control camera movement, and land the UAV,” says Sgt. Matthew Trigg, a DH3 operator. “We’re getting a lot of good reports [from the detachments] and the attrition rate has started to go down.”

Improvements to the T-Hawk are restricted to operational concepts rather than hardware, but the results are impressive. The controversial platform had seemed something of an afterthought in Talisman, but transferring control from the Royal Engineers to 32 Regt. helped it find a niche.

“We overtook the amount of flights the engineers had done in our first month here flying it,” says Chris Darker, a bombardier and member of 32 Regt.’s two-man T-Hawk crews now embedded within Talisman squadrons. “The guys flying it had other jobs within the squadron—they could have been a Talon operator or a searcher—and were doing T-Hawk as a secondary job. But the more we use it, the more they want to use it. They’re adamant now that they want to bring two systems with them every time they’re out.”

Two of the aircraft’s perceived disadvantages—noise and the airflow generated in hover—are now considered pluses. When flown near the ground, it can be used to blow dust away from possible improvised explosive devices to aid visual checks, and the noise has a potent deterrent effect.

The platform’s FMV is considered superior to that provided by DH3, and its utility for Talisman’s route-proving task is undoubted. Darker, who has used Hermes, DH3 and T-Hawk, says: “I’ve probably enjoyed flying [T-Hawk] the most. I flew this 14 times on one op where we cleared a route in [the Nahr-e-Saraj district, Helmand Province], and that route is still being used.”

Photo: Crown Copyright

07-10-11, 03:02 AM
The DIY-Drone of the Future Is … a Flying Pogo Stick

By Dawn Lim October 6, 2011 | 4:00 pm

Uploaded by xxxxxHavocxxxxx on Jun 3, 2011
The XL-161 TRINITY [High Altitude Unmanned Airborne Laser]


Based on the technology of YAL-1 Airborne Laser. The XL-161 TRINITY is an Advanced Airborne Laser System that's highly affective against aircrafts and missiles.


Adding a line of air space defense. Capable of destroying any incoming aircraft or missile. Locking down all air activities within a specific area. Operates through a long period automatically without refueling or resupplying.


1. Solar-Powered

Solar cells are covering most of the upper surface area to supply electricity that required to power 3 main rotor units. To enhance the capability to capture sun light, extendable solar cell panels are installed on the upper side of the aircraft. When fully extended, it will double the surface area of the aircraft and allow it to capture more energy from the sun.

2. Dual Operating Mode

The Dual Operating Mode for the XL-161 is applied to fly in different situations. "Day mode" is applied when sun light is available. It will completely depends on sun light to power 3 main rotor units and flight systems, and will store the remaining energy to batteries to use during "Night mode". "Night mode" will use the energy stored in batteries to operate the main rotor units and other systems while taking off, landing and at night.

3. Triangle Layout Coaxial Rotors

3 Coaxial Rotors are installed to provide thrust to the XL-161. On each of the rotor unit, the lower rotor spins to the right and the upper rotor spins to the left. Creating 2 perfectly equal forces toward opposite directions that balance the rotor unit. Therefore the rotor units will not cause the aircraft to self-spinning. By adjusting the thrust output of each rotor, the aircraft can pitch and roll and go forward and backward.

4. High Energy Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser

The main weapon on board is a High Energy Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser with 12 Modules. Generates powerful laser beam that can destroy any aircraft or ballistic missile within a wide range. Chemical fuel is stored inside the aircraft provides fuel to fire multiple full-powered shots from the laser.

5. Bottom Mounted Laser Turret

The Bottom Mounted Laser Turret on the XL-161 is the output for the High Energy Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser. Able to target at any direction below the aircraft with its all-angle turning capability. 2 lens are built inside the turret to enlarge and focus the laser. Targeting system is installed within the turret, includes a laser rangefinder and a infrared camera.

6. New Landing Gears Design

The brand new landing gears design includes 3 set of wheels and 6 covering doors. The wheels are deployed by turning 90 degrees toward the ground. Each wheel can roll toward any direction making it easy to move around on the ground. The covering doors are using tracks to pull back from the aircraft without taking extra space for rotating them from their original position and also allows the wheels to deploy. Part of the covering doors uses a traditional method that take more space than the new covering doors design to open up. However, it can be closed once the landing gears are deployed.

7. Highly Networked

The XL-161 operates in a group along with other aircrafts such as communication aircrafts, tactical aircrafts and other XL-161 to provide a large area of air space control.

8. Long Range Radar System

The Long Range Radar System on board can detect any aircraft or missiles within its range. Or communicate with the HQ through a communication aircraft or a satellite to update strategy or operation status.

9. Computer Systems

12 Computers are installed on the XL-161 to provide a independent operating system. Calculating information such as weather condition, attitude, flight controls, weapon system and processing commands. Each computer is removable and replaceable through the doors on the aircraft.


1. Light Weight Materials

Light Weight Material is required for building the XL-161. Because of the complex structures and the size of the aircraft, it cannot carry the weight of itself to the sky if using metal as materials. Nanotechnology may apply in this session.

2. High Efficiency Solar Cells & Batteries

High Efficiency Solar Cells & Batteries are required to ensure that the XL-161 collects enough energy from the sun to operate through days and nights. Nanotechnology may apply in this session.

3. Long Range High Energy Laser

A Powerful Long Range High Energy Laser is required for shooting down targets through the layers of atmosphere to any altitude or even taking out ground targets.

Darpa is holding a contest to design the military’s next spy mini-drone. So far, the entrants include a flying pogo stick, a sail that lands on mosques, and an unmanned laser shooter.

Those are some of concept videos submitted to UAV Forge, a Pentagon experiment to crowdsource the development of unmanned aerial vehicles. DIY-drone hobbyists are encouraged to work together to create the flying spy-bot of the future. It has to fit in a rucksack and be operated by just one person without any help, guidelines say.

This isn’t the first time that the Pentagon’s done crowdsourcing exercises. There was the “Network Challenge,” which sent people scrambling around the country for 10 big red balloons in an attempt to “explore the roles the internet and social networking play timely communication, wide-area team-building, and urgent mobilization.” And Darpa also announced this year that it would give $10,000 for the best design for new “Combat Reconnaissance and Combat Delivery & Evacuation” vehicles.

Everyone taking part in the UAV contest have to post videos of their designs, so other hardware tinkerers can vote on and critique their ideas. After that, they’ll have to demonstrate that their design can actually fly. From a live video demo, 10 teams will be picked — and given up to $15,000 each — to take part in a “fly-off.” The winning team gets $100,000 of prize money, a subcontract with a manufacturer, and the chance to see to their project in use in a military operational demo. UAV Forge has been talking to Google, which is considering using UAVs to capture Google Earth images, according to PC Magazine.

Here are the ideas you get when you tap into the wisdom of the DIY-drone hackers.

The XL-161 Trinity (above) is a solar- and fuel-powered unmanned airborne laser system that can “destroy any aircraft or ballistic missile within a wide range.” It stores solar energy in batteries for nighttime use. A laser turret, which contains an infrared camera and rangefinder, has “all-angle turning capability” to target shots in any direction below the aircraft.

[I]Uploaded by CodeWarriorx0539 on Sep 21, 2011
My submission for DARPA's UAVforge competition.
Battery: http://www.epowerpad.com/model/PPD130specs.aspx
Camera: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SycQL9TzcPQ
Metallica Enter Sandman
Metallica Black Album

The Falcon is a camo-printed, modular three-part drone that’s decked out with a super-camera that moves “like the head of a bird of prey.” With thrust vector control, it’s able to carry out a vertical takeoff, and then switch to horizontal flight. It purports to have a battery that’s part of its lifting surface — as opposed to dead weight. In this video, it makes a landing on a mosque to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.”

Uploaded by AppleiLens on May 28, 2011
Quadrocopter drone with miniguns, kinect cams, infrared laser beam, speaker phone, delayed explosive devices, and can kamikaze if terrorist tries to take advantage of it. So you can get up close and personal with these buzzers and have a translater speaking to them. They are making that new spray too, to identify targets and track them as well, heres how. This could change the war seen Pop.
Imagine every Marine unit having one of these bad boys when they are in the bush or out and above in a convoy. They get hit, they got dis maw fucka on their ass NOW! This shit right here, can maneuver through trees too with the protective holy protectors of the blades. The guns may be too heavy and a single barrel and one weapon would do the trick. It could be a low caliber gun too. Just use these babies to go see whats going on across the valley. This thing would be the ultimate fucking side kick in the combat zone. controlled via remote control hooked up to a tablet, like ice cream sandwich is bringin.

The Quadrocopter Microdrone is a kamikaze drone equipped with miniguns, an infrared laser beam, and Xbox Kinect-style cameras to map out the landscape. It will self-destruct if compromised. It aspires to be able to get close enough to a terrorist to spray a substance and then be able to track the sprayed target with a special camera. There’s an app for it. It’s controlled by a remote control that can be hooked up to an iPad.

Uploaded by zbzoom2 on Jul 9, 2011
POGO 2100 is an innovative UAV designed for small unit operation. The
unique configuration is rugged, highly mission adaptable and provides an extremely stable viewing and control platform.

The Pogo 2100 UAV is a flying pogo stick that can be configured with explosives and sensors. It is launched over long ranges by a rocket, and released in a capsule. Then it drifts around like a spying seed, hovering with the help of blade-like propellers.

And for kicks, someone seems to have submitted a preview for the videogame “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier.” Of course.

07-10-11, 01:00 PM
IAI confirms work on additional hovering air vehicles

By: Arie Egozi Tel Aviv

2 hours ago


Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is developing hovering air vehicles capable of carrying payloads of 100-200kg (220-441lb), with some being non-tethered designs.

"We see a big potential demand for hovering platforms, and we will offer a complete line of them," said Brig Gen (Reserve) Shmuel Yachin, chief co-ordinator of IAI's land systems unit.

The company has previously disclosed details of its electric tethered observation platform (ETOP), which is designed to carry multi-system payloads for a variety of military, civilian and paramilitary missions.

© Israel Aerospace Industries

The electrically-powered ETOP air vehicle can be positioned above a static station using cables or deployed from a moving ground vehicle or maritime platform.

It can carry a payload of up to 20kg and operate to a maximum altitude of 328ft (100m).

Yachin said IAI is currently working with fuel cell power pack developers to increase the endurance time of non-tethered hovering air vehicles.

10-10-11, 01:09 PM
AME Fury 1500 Performs 14-Hour Flight

Posted on October 10, 2011 by The Editor

AME Unmanned Air Systems announced that its Fury 1500 Special Mission UAS has completed a 14-hour flight.

This new version of the Fury was developed at AME’s UAS facility in San Luis Obispo, California and is operated and controlled by AME’s UAS Mission Management software, SharkFin.

The 14.2-hour flight solidifies the Fury’s position as the longest-endurance and largest payload tactical and runway-independent UAS flying today. With the largest payload capacity (weight and volume), heavy-fuel propulsion system, highest power-to-payload, and “special mission” capable avionics, Fury 1500 will provide best-in-class capabilities to the Warfighter over a variety of mission scenarios. The Fury 1500’s first flight was in November 2010. AME recently moved to a more powerful launcher to eliminate wind and altitude launch constraints when flying above 300lbs at takeoff.

“The Fury 1500 continues its recent string of successful test flights over the last few weeks. We have been demonstrating system reliability by flying back-to-back sorties and have accumulated over 109 flight hours in the last 45 days. Reaching this duration puts us alone in the category of long-endurance, large payload, tactical UAS, but we are not finished yet. We expect to achieve 16+ hours soon, and in a short time will exceed that as well as we continue to improve our heavy-fuel propulsion system,” said John Purvis, President and CEO of AME UAS. “Our recent successes over multiple 12+ hour flights serve as a testament to the hard work and talent of our team.”

Fury 1500 testing addresses multiple Warfighter requirements. Designed for a broad range of missions and long endurance, Fury 1500′s large payload volume and power capacity can support several payloads simultaneously and provide for a flexible, multi-mission capability not currently available with other UAS platforms.

“Fury 1500, and its mission planning and control system, Sharkfin, are progressing nicely toward a fully deployable capability for our Army, Navy, and special mission customers,” added Mr. Jay McConville, AME UAS’ Chairman. “With its multi-INT capability, small footprint, and open architecture, we expect Fury to add significantly to our nation’s mission capability for both land and maritime use, and be easily integrated with existing C2 and intelligence systems. While still new, the open and flexible architecture will ensure a bright future for both Fury and Sharkfin.”

Source: Press Release

11-10-11, 12:54 AM

A Defense Technology Blog

AAI Unveils Bigger Shadow

Posted by Graham Warwick at 10/10/2011 7:06 AM CDT

AAI is unveiling its M2 growth variant of the RQ-7 Shadow tactical unmanned aircraft at this week's Association of the US Army show here in Washington.

Photo: AAI

The Shadow M2 has a wingspan on 25ft (up from the RQ-7B's 20.4ft) and a new "blended body" fuselage with increased volume for fuel and dual payload bays. The M2 can also carry additional equipment on underwing hardpoints.

AAI says endurance is increased and the M2 can fly higher, powered by a new heavy-fuel engine developed by Textron sister company Lycoming. Sensor options include synthetic-aperture radar, ground and dismount moving-target indication, wide-area surveillance, electronic warfare and even the US Army's Triclops triple EO/IR-ball payload

AAI, working with Phoenix Global Support, is also introducing a modular underwing pod that allows the Shadow to carry a range of payloads including a 3G communications system, SIGINT or MASINT sensors.

11-10-11, 05:48 AM
X-47B flies with gears up

Posted in Uncategorized on October 11th, 2011

X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration aircraft flew with its landing gears up for the first time on Sept. 30.

X47B Flight 007. This was the first gear up flight for AV-1. Edwards AFB, CA. September 30, 2011. AFFTC Aerial Photographer Christian Turner

11-10-11, 12:05 PM
IAI Elta Launches New Lightweight SAR for Small UAS

Posted on October 11, 2011 by The Editor

IAI Elta is introducing a new version of their lightweight Synthetic Aperture radar (SAR) Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) sensor designated EL/M-2054. The new radar is based on another Elta SAR radar, the EL/M-2055DX modular SAR/GMTI radar, The new version is designed specifically for small form and size, low weight and power consumption, making it suitable for small, tactical unmanned aerial systems (STUAS) and Tactical Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) platforms, light reconnaissance aircraft and aerostats. The new radar employs an open architecture for rapid integration and configuration to meet the requirement of different platforms and applications.

The range of the new radar exceeds 10km (depending in the operating mode) operating in day, night and under adverse weather conditions. Coverage in SAR Strip is 360 km2/hour, while persistent surveillance in the GMTI covering about 25 square kilometers. A typical installation in a small tactical UAV weighs about 12 kg and consumes 250 watts.

So far Elta has offered two versions of the EL/M-2055 SAR/GMTI sensor. One designed for Medium Altitude Long Endurance platforms (MALE), weighing 66 kg and consuming 1.1 kilowatt and the other, for tactical UAS, weighing 36 kg, consuming 700 watts of electrical power.

The EL/M-2054 offers advanced capabilities derived from more compact and efficient electronics and signal processing capabilities. Its airborne segment is provided with on-board data processing system and cross-cueing of radar data to or from EO/IR and other sensors. The two operating modes of the radar (Strip/Spot) provide sufficient resolution and definition to detect and classify stationary targets, while covering a large area. The GMTI mode supports the detection
of ground targets over a wide range of velocities using enhanced, dual-band capability.

The data exploitation segment associated with the new system is providing advanced mission analysis tools enabling advanced imagery and GMTI exploitation supporting the tactical level. These include automatic geo referencing of images, computer aided target detection, tracking and classification, automatic change detection, imagery data manipulation, annotation and mensuration.

Source: Press Release

11-10-11, 12:49 PM
DARPA Harnessing Crowd Wisdom to Develop New Perch and Stare UAVs

DAPRPA is seeking the wisdom of the crowds to innovate with new concepts for micro drones that will be able to perch and stare on the battlefield. Photo: DARPA

Different services of the U.S. military are working on different solutions providing persistent intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) supporting the warfighter with miniature autonomous vehicles designed for ‘Perch and Stare’ mission profile. One of the most mature programs, the Shrike recently unveiled by Aerovironment was developed under Defense Advanced Research Programs Agency (DARPA) funding to develop a Stealthy Persistent Perch and Stare (SP2S) capability. But Jim McCormick, a program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) believes that commercial off-the shelf (COTS) technology harnessed by the innovation of the ‘crowd’ could yield new capabilities that could benefit the warfighter even beyond these military funded programs. “we feel there is more potential there, and the current capability is still not ready for procurement. We hope that the crowd source will be able to overcome these barriers.” McCormick said, adding that 93 teams have already joined, some of them are foreign “Our focus is on innovation, regardless to where it comes from”.

Uploaded by DARPAtv on May 25, 2011
This video is a conceptual depiction of the DARPA UAVForge competition objective. UAVForge will use crowd sourcing to design and demonstrate a new generation of small UAVs, culminating in a $100K prize and rapid fabrication of up to 15 copies of the top design. For more information please visit www.uavforge.net

Vertical take off and landing, transition from flight mode to observation mode, while maneuvering around obstacles are basic requirements. DARPA expects teams to demonstrate higher level of autonomy and automation, particularly in transition modes, obstacle avoidance and ‘follow-me’ flight mode, supporting operations on the move. The payload to be used should be able to identify persons or activities of interest up to 100 feet away with real-time video transmission monitored at a distance of two miles. Communications should be able to support non line of site, Total observation time may require up to three hours of pictures and/or video to document the facts. The vehicle should maintain low acoustic and visual signature to minimize probability of detection. The entire air vehicle must fit within a rucksack and a single person traveling by foot must be able to carry and operate the vehicle without assistance.

For this program DARPA has collaborated with the U.S. Navy Space and Naval Warfare Systems center Atlantic PM DARPA to launch ‘UAVForge’, a global crowd sourcing competition to design, build, and fly advanced small unmanned air vehicle (UAV) systems. The winning team will get $100,000 prize to build 15 examples of the winning design to be evaluated by the military by spring 2012 at Camp Lejeune N.C. Teams can qualify for the competition until October 25, 2011. Voting for the winning teams will commence from Oct 27 till Nov 2, 2011.

DARPA has already employed a similar design contest designing and building a Crowd-Driven Combat Support Vehicle Prototype in 98 Days.

11-10-11, 02:45 PM
AAI UAS Introduces Multi-Mission Payloads for Shadow Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems

(Source: Textron Inc.; issued October 10, 2011)

HUNT VALLEY, Md. --- AAI Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), an operating unit of Textron Systems, a Textron Inc. company, along with Phoenix Global Support, announced today the introduction of new multi-mission payloads for its renowned Shadow Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

Designed to be housed in a modular pod and carried on the hard points on the Shadow aircraft’s wings, multi-mission payloads are exchanged easily based on the unique requirements of the supported mission. Some of the early multi-mission payload applications address urgent warfighter requirements including secure, third-generation, or 3G, telecommunications uplink and downlink; signals intelligence, or SIGINT; measurement and signatures intelligence, or MASINT; state-of-the-art communications; precision geolocation; airborne cellular network; software-defined communications relay; and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear detection.

“The Shadow has always been a versatile system, performing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as communications relay and laser designation,” says AAI UAS Senior Vice President and General Manager Steven Reid. “Modular multi-mission payloads will expand the user’s toolkit even more. This provides greater capability in the field, with minimal logistics. One asset can do it all.”

AAI UAS’ modular pod design enables continued growth of the multi-mission payload family as warfighter needs and payload technologies develop.

AAI Unmanned Aircraft Systems has designed, manufactured and fielded combat-proven unmanned aircraft systems for more than 25 years. AAI’s multi-mission capable unmanned aircraft and interoperable command and control technologies provide critical situational awareness and actionable intelligence for users worldwide. Its Australia-based strategic business, Aerosonde Pty Ltd, is a manufacturer of small unmanned aircraft systems. AAI Unmanned Aircraft Systems is an operating unit of Textron Systems.


11-10-11, 05:20 PM
More on DARPA's crowd-sourcing UAV Project.............


A Defense Technology Blog

DARPA's UAV Crowd-Sourcing Kicks Off

Posted by Graham Warwick at 10/11/2011 8:50 AM CDT

More than 90 teams have registered to compete in DARPA's UAVforge "global crowd-sourcing competition" to design and fly a small VTOL perch-and-stare unmanned aircraft. Videos of the concepts are appearing on the uavforge.net website as the competition nears its first milestone.

Graphics: DARPA

The goal of UAVforge, according to program manager Jim McCormick, is to find out whether innovation mobilized and organized by crowd-sourcing can produce a design that is cheaper to buy and easier to operate than the Shrike VTOL small UAV developed by AeroVironment under DARPA's Stealthy Persistent Perch and Stare program.

Anyone, anywhere, can participate in the competition by forming a team, joining a team, offering their specific expertise to a team, or simply observing. More than 800 people have registered at the website, says McCormick. I signed up yesterday. I have no expertise to offer, but I will get to participate in the crowd-sourced voting that is a key feature of the competition.

The first milestone in the competition comes at the end of this month, by which time contestants must have posted a video of their concept on the uavforge.net website. As of this morning (Oct 11), there were just under 40 videos up there, although there look to be a few ringers among them (what is IAI's Panther VTOL UAV doing there?).

Once all the videos are posted, there will be two weeks of "peer voting" in which all participants will get a chance to give a rating from 0-5 to each design, so sign up and vote. McCormick says the vote will help contestants work out if they are on the right track and refine their designs before the next milestone. scheduled for December, when they have to post a video of their UAV's first flight.

There will be another period of peer voting before the third milestone, in January, which will be a live flight video, with DARPA giving instructions over the phone telling the UAV operator to take off, stream video, land, etc.

This will be followed by a downselection to the top 10 designs, which DARPA will invite to Camp Lejeune, N.C. in spring 2012 for a competitive fly-off.

Out of a possible score of 200, 30 points will be awarded for performing the basic mission of taking off vertically, flying 2 miles into an urban environment then perching (or hovering) for 2 hours to provide "military relevant" surveillance before flying back to land vertically.

An additional 140 points are available for demonstrating "advanced behaviors" such as the ability to avoid obstacles, fly safely during a loss of communications, and autonomously follow the ground operator. And finally up to 30 points will be awarded for manufacturability, which will be assessed by a company selected by DARPA.

The winner will get a $100,000 prize, and the opportunity for their UAV to participate in a military exercise. The chosen manufacturer will build up to 15 of the winning UAVs for DARPA, but the intellectual property will remain with the winning team and they will be free to pursue their own manufacturing plans after the competition, says McCormick.

It will be interesting to see whether DARPA, in its drive to revitalize US manufacturing, can overcome what would seem to be huge challenges to "democratizing" innovation -- opening a closely-held, company-proprietary process to broader participation -- in a very security-conscious and regulation-bound defense industry.

12-10-11, 01:27 AM
Weaponizing Shadow UAV on hold for U.S. Army

Posted by Military Times Online | October 11th, 2011 | AUSA 2011

U.S. soldiers work on a Shadow unmanned aerial vehicle at Forward Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan. The U.S. Army is still debating whether to arm the Shadow, while the U.S. Marine Corps plans to do it in the next 18 months. (Army)

By KATE BRANNEN — While the U.S. Marine Corps is adding weapons to its Shadow UAVs for operations in Afghanistan, the Army has no current plans to do so, according to service officials speaking Tuesday at the annual convention of the Association of the U.S. Army.

For Army commanders, the choice comes down to endurance versus lethality, said Tim Owings, the Army’s outgoing deputy project manager for unmanned aircraft systems. If the Shadow is loaded with weapons, its weight increases, which leads to a decrease in the amount of time it can stay in the air watching targets.

The ability to track targets for long periods of time without refueling is more important to commanders, Owings said. Plus, they have many other assets they can call upon to shoot targets.

Meanwhile, the Marine Corps has received requests from troops in Afghanistan to arm the Shadow, which it expects to accomplish in 18 months.

Col. Robert Sova, the Army’s UAV requirements chief, said the Army continues to discuss the idea.

The service has also taken the steps to modify the aircraft so that it can accommodate munitions in the future. If the service decides to arm the aircraft, the Shadow platoons that fly with the Army’s newly configured full-spectrum combat aviation brigades (CABs) may be the first and only Shadows to get weapons, Sova said.

In a full-spectrum CAB, there are only seven OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters in the Armed Reconnaissance Squadron. These are teamed up with two Shadow platoons, each equipped with four aircraft.

The new CAB design allowed the Army to build a 13th CAB, a move called for in the last Quadrennial Defense Review, by utilizing and spreading out all of its Kiowa Warriors, which are no longer being built.

With the addition of the Shadow platoons, the full-spectrum CAB takes advantage of manned-unmanned teaming, an area the Army would like to continue to increase.

The Army is also working to get its family of small UAVs off the ground, with funding remaining the only obstacle.

The capability production document is all but approved, Sova said. While money remains an issue, Sova said he was confident the effort would move forward.

The kit of small UAVs would include the hand-launched Raven and the 13-pound Puma, an aircraft the Army has been buying for route clearance operations in Afghanistan.

Once funding is approved, the Army would like to competitively select a micro-capability, something that weighs 1 to 2 pounds, to add to the kit.

12-10-11, 10:38 AM
More info on the new SHADOW M2..............

AAI unveils Shadow M2

By: Zach Rosenberg Washington DC

5 hours ago


AAI has unveiled the Shadow M2, a modified version of the RQ-7B Shadow unmanned air vehicle (UAV).

The Shadow M2 is significantly larger and heavier than its predecessor, the US Army's standard tactical UAV. The wingspan has been expanded from 20ft to 25ft, and the aircraft has added 120lb.The Shadow M2 boasts a redesigned fuselage, replacing the signature box with a streamlined, lift-generating structure.

"Basically the internal guts are the same internal guts that are in the upgraded RQ-7B" said Steven Reid, senior vice president. "It's just that we can now carry additional payload and make use of that increased bandwidth that the TCDL [tactical common datalink] gives us."

With the M2 upgrades, Shadow can carry two separate payloads, instead of the standard single EO/IR turrets. Discussions are underway to test a number of payloads, including two synthetic aperture radars (SAR), wide-area surveillance, signals intelligence and electronic warfare packages.

The modified version, which includes the new wings now being retrofitted to Marine Corps RQ-7Bs, extends the wingspan to 25ft from just over 20. The longer wingspan, combined with the lift-generating new fuselage, extends the flight duration to 16h.


The aircraft will use a new Lycoming engine that generates 60lb of thrust, up from 35lb, and a five-blade propeller. The engine is undergoing static tests, and is expected to make a first flight in spring, 2012.

"It's up against the stops on all the constraints, but it's the most performance you can get out of this tactical class," said Reid.

Design of the M2 has not been wholly finalised, and none have yet been produced. A test bed, called Shadow M, has been flying for several months. The first flight of Shadow is expected in late summer 2012, depending on customer interest.

The M2 is heavy enough to require modifications to the existing AAI launcher, though the extent of modifications has not been determined.

AAI simulated 21 different versions before choosing the current configuration.

12-10-11, 10:41 AM
HART imagery software to deploy

By: Zach Rosenberg Washington DC

5 hours ago


The US Army has tapped Northrop Grumman’s heterogeneous airborne reconnaissance team (HART) system for deployment to Afghanistan.

The system, which tasks, controls and disseminates imagery from unmanned air vehicles (UAV), is set to deploy in early 2012 with a brigade combat team.

HART is a series of distributed computers that allow up to 50 users to control up to 50 UAVs and distribute data.

The system requires several computing systems, ranging from a relatively large one for the tactical operations centre (TOC) to a 3lb (1.3kg) model for use by deployed troops.

Users can observe footage from UAVs, which is automatically downgraded into still frames if the user lacks sufficient bandwidth. A user can request surveillance of an area, and HART will automatically choose and task the available airborne assets as necessary.

Northrop says that HART can integrate with any aircraft, though it requires some software modification on HART’s part.

HART has been tested during three major exercises, twice by the marines and once by the army. It began as a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) programme.

12-10-11, 11:37 AM
Laser Power Beam Powers Quadrocopter UAS for 12+ Hours

Posted on October 12, 2011 by The Editor

The LaserMotive system transmits laser light from a ground station to a photovoltaic receiver on a UAV. Reflected light from the UAV is then captured and used to monitor its position and dynamically control the laser to deliver the power to the correct position

Recently, at the Future of Flight Aviation Center (Mukilteo, WA, USA), LaserMotive (Seattle, WA, USA) demonstrated how a laser-powered beaming system could be used to power a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) quadrocopter for more than 12 hours.

The company has developed a system based on laser power beaming: the wireless transfer of energy over long distances using laser light. In these systems, laser light is first shaped by a set of optics to define the beam size at its destination and then accurately directed toward a photovoltaic receiver that converts the light into electricity on a remote vehicle.

“To power a UAV in-flight demands a closed-loop system that can accurately move and track the position of the laser as the vehicle moves,” says Carsten Erickson. “To accomplish this, the system must accurately position the beam onto the photovoltaic receiver and move the beam dynamically.” Thus by closing the predicted and actual flight position, the system can track the vehicle and deliver the necessary laser power required.

A 1000-W laser-diode stack from Dilas (Tucson, AZ, USA) was focused onto a parabolic mirror to accomplish this process automatically. Focused light from this mirror then impinges onto a flat mirror that, under control of an x-y positioning system, is used to direct the laser light toward the photovoltaic receiver on the UAV.

Two P70530 300-W stepper drivers from National Instruments (NI; Austin, TX, USA) were interfaced to an NI-7344 motion controller to control the two-stepper motors used for x-y positioning of the mirror.

To obtain positional information about the location of the quadro-copter, the closed-loop system also requires a means to monitor the position of the UAV in flight and adjust the position of the beam accordingly. A Prosilica GX Gigabit Ethernet camera from Allied Vision Technologies (AVT; Stadtroda, Germany) fitted with a 22x zoom lens from Fujinon (Wayne, NJ, USA) is used to image the position of the laser beam on the mirror (see figure).

Images captured by this camera are then transferred at 80 frames/s over the camera’s Gigabit Ethernet interface to an NI-3100 industrial controller. To form a closed-loop system, the NI-3100 was also interfaced to NI-7344 motion controller. In this way, feedback from the reflected laser light and vehicle marking lights from the UAV are used to compute the location of the quadrocopter and to steer the mirror using the x-y servomotors.

To evaluate the reflected light from the quadrocopter, digitized images were analyzed on the NI-3100 industrial controller using IMAQ Vision. After thresholding the image to remove background information, blob analysis was performed on the images to locate the center position of the UAV. Analyzing the size of the reflected images also allowed the system to estimate the elevation of the UAV.

While this type of laser beam steering allows UAVs to be remotely powered, the power transfer still remains only approximately 25% as efficient as power transmission over wires. Erickson says with improved lasers and photovoltaics, in the future this efficiency is expected to increase the applicability of the technology for operations such as powering communication satellites and lunar rovers.

Source: Vision Systems Design

12-10-11, 11:39 AM
Raytheon Speed-of-Light Protection System Can Shield Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Posted on October 12, 2011 by The Editor

Raytheon Company‘s Common Infrared Counter Measures solution for US Army helicopters is also ideal for protecting unmanned aircraft systems. At 15 pounds less than the Army’s requirement, Raytheon’s CIRCM system is lightweight enough for large UAS platforms.

“These unmanned aircraft are widely deployed in today’s battlespace, and they are highly vulnerable to missile attacks,” said Mike Booen, vice president of Advanced Security and Directed Energy Systems for Raytheon Missile Systems. “Raytheon is developing a family of directed infrared counter measure (DIRCM) solutions that can protect cargo aircraft and combat helicopters; unmanned is the next logical step.”

Operating at the speed of light, DIRCM systems use low-watt lasers to confuse the guidance systems of sophisticated missiles and divert them away from aircraft. Raytheon’s CIRCM is part of the company’s family of DIRCM systems.

“Raytheon’s DIRCM solutions are lighter, more reliable and draw significantly less power than other systems on the market today,” said Booen. “Our solutions are also flexible; we can integrate with any laser and any warning system.”

Raytheon is competing as a prime contractor for the Army’s CIRCM contract. Once fielded, CIRCM systems will shield the Army’s combat helicopters from guided missiles. A contract downselect is expected early next year.

Source: Press Release

13-10-11, 01:49 AM

A Defense Technology Blog

Euro Hawk Rollout

Posted by Nicholas Fiorenza at 10/12/2011 10:25 AM CDT

The Bundeswehr's Euro Hawk high-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial system was rolled out today at the WTD 61 military testing facility in Manching, marking the beginning of the testing phase of the entire system. This follows the system's flight from Edwards Air Force Base to Manching on 20-21 August.

Luftwaffe file photo by Ingo Bicker

In addition to the full scale demonstrator, the Bundeswehr will begin the procurement of four series production versions in 2015. The system will be operated by the Luftwaffe and the Streitkräftebasis, the Bundeswehr's support command.

13-10-11, 02:34 AM
Turkey Seeks Partner for Naval Copter Drones


Published: 12 Oct 2011 10:48

ANKARA - To boost Turkey's naval intelligence capabilities, military and procurement authorities here have launched a new program for the co-production of unmanned helicopters.

Officials with the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) said the procurement office likely will release requests for proposals before the end of the year.

"The competition will be open to foreign bidders, but they will have to agree to work with a Turkish prime contractor," one official said.

Industry sources said the local prime contractor most likely will be Tusas Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI). Last December, TAI's first unmanned helicopter prototype, the Sivrisinek, made successful test flights equipped with the Cirit, an indigenous rocket developed by Turkish missile maker Roketsan.

The co-production program will involve an initial batch of up to 30 unmanned helicopters.

Procurement officials said the initial specification for the unmanned platform is a range of 180 kilometers and a flight time of up to 10 hours. In its first test, the Sivrisinek flew for an hour and a half.

According to planned contract specifications, the helicopters must be able to perform vertical takeoffs and landings since they will operate from ships.

Initially, the unmanned helicopters will be deployed on a landing platform dock that Turkey plans to purchase. Later, they will be operated on Turkish corvettes and frigates.

13-10-11, 03:02 PM
Zala Aero upgrades UAS to HD video payloads

October 13, 2011

Zala Aero has announced today that it plans to launch an upgraded ZALA 421-E16 UAS. This new upgrade includes the platform having the latest digital HD transmitter, 2W or 4W amplifier and a new antenna that will be installed in the wing. Later in 2012 fixed wing UAS ZALA 421-04M and VTOL UAS ZALA 421-23 will also receive similar upgrades.

On the payload side Zala Aero is also developing a new payload to its ZALA G-3 range to go along with the upgrade for ZALA 421-E16 (that can also be used on ZALA 421-16). The current ZALA 421-G3 HD payload is already being used onboard the UAS and the new payload that is being developed ZALA 421-G3 HD/IR will combine the IR version and HD version of the previous payloads to provide the HD quality video and IR 640x480 resolution in one.

An ultra-compact color PAL block camera stabilized platform, which is able to carry out the survey with resolution of HD quality. It has 10x optical zoom in combination with optional 4x digital. Fitted with thermal imaging camera TAU 640. It provides NTSC video stream at 30 frames per second with resolution 640x480. Built-in denoising system, high sensitivity (<50 mK at f/0.1), flexible operating environment from -30/+50°C, low energy demand, portability and light weight present significant advantage while carrying out night survey, monitoring during bad weather and diverse season. ZALA platform is unique as it has built-in system of stabilization and independent inertial system that make the quality of images higher thanks to cutting of mechanical restriction and digital noise. Overall dimensions 165x127x127mm, wieght 890g, tangage +/- 85, roll ±125°, operating temperature -30°C...+50°, video output HD/PAL, Resolution 1080i/640x480, spectral range of IR 7,5...13,5 μm. Perfect auto-focusing, light weight and compact dimensions combined with flexible automatic stabilized platform allow operator to monitor with wide angle range that lead to hi-res images.

Source: Zala Aero

13-10-11, 03:06 PM
More on this.............

Cassidian and Northrop Grumman EURO HAWK for German Armed Forces

(Source: EADS; issued October 12, 2011)

Now fitted with a new, Cassidian-developed SIGINT package, the Euro Hawk will undergo flight tests in 2012 before entering service with the Luftwaffe. (Cassidian photo)

Euro Hawk, the premier Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) for the German Armed Forces, was presented today to government officials and media during a rollout ceremony held in Manching, Germany.

The UAS arrived on 21 July 2011 following a nonstop ferry flight from Edwards Air Force Base in California to Manching. After its landing, it was successfully fitted with the Integrated Signal Intelligence System (ISIS) developed by Cassidian and will undergo flight testing in 2012. Euro Hawk is the first international configuration of the RQ-4 Global Hawk High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) UAS.

Delivery of the first Euro Hawk system to the German Air Force and Strategic Intelligence Command (KSA) is scheduled for 2012, with delivery of the following four systems foreseen between 2015 and 2016.

Dr. Stefan Zoller, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Cassidian, said: "Today’s rollout ceremony of the Euro Hawk marks a significant step for the German customer in its acquisition of a leading-edge SIGINT capability." Zoller added: “Euro Hawk is an excellent example for the transatlantic cooperation in the defence area, and for the close relationship with our customer. We are very pleased to provide the German Armed Forces with the first HALE UAS which was fitted with a fully Integrated SIGINT System for the detection and identification of ELINT and COMINT (electronic and communications intelligence) emitters. This also proves our significant UAS system integration capabilities. The mission system has been developed by Cassidian for the specific requirements of the German customer and is based on the most advanced technologies."

Gary Ervin, Corporate Vice President and President of Northrop Grumman’s Aerospace Systems, stressed: “Today, we are a step closer to delivering the first Euro Hawk to the German Armed Forces. In times of tight budgets, multinational joint developments like this offer great value to nations and provide effective support for troops in the field. We are proud to be part of the Euro Hawk team."

Neset Tükenmez, Chief Executive Officer of the Joint Venture EuroHawk GmbH, commented: “Euro Hawk marks a new era of strategic reconnaissance in Europe. The German Armed Forces will soon be able to independently cover their own national needs for SIGINT data collection and analysis. This will be a high-value contribution to NATO, EU and UN operations in the future. The Euro Hawk success story will continue with the ISIS flight trials and the hand-over to the German customer in 2012."

The German Ministry of Defence (MoD) awarded a contract in January 2007 to EuroHawk GmbH for the development, test and support of the Full-Scale Demonstrator Euro Hawk system. Under this contract, EuroHawk GmbH will provide the SIGINT air vehicles, the complete aircraft and ISIS Mission Ground Segments as well as the aircraft modifications requested for the German needs, flight test and logistics support.

With a wingspan larger than a commercial airliner, endurance of 30 hours and a maximum altitude of more than 60,000 feet, Euro Hawk is an interoperable, modular and cost-effective replacement to the aging fleet of manned Breguet Atlantic aircraft which was in service since 1972 and officially retired in 2010. EuroHawk GmbH, a 50-50 joint venture of Northrop Grumman and Cassidian, is responsible for the development and manufacturing of Euro Hawk systems and acts as the national prime contractor for the German MoD through the system’s entire lifecycle.

Cassidian, an EADS company, is a worldwide leader in global security solutions and systems, providing Lead Systems Integration and value-added products and services to civil and military customers around the globe. In 2010, Cassidian – with around 28,000 employees – achieved revenues of EUR 5.9 billion. EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2010, the Group – comprising Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of EUR 45.8 billion and employed a workforce of more than 121,000.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.


13-10-11, 03:15 PM
Thales Alenia Space to Study Unmanned Aircraft Systems Command and Control by Satellite for ESA

(Source: Thales; issued October 10, 2011)

Thales Alenia Space has won a contract from the European Space Agency (ESA) to lead a nine-month study regarding satellite communications solutions for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).

The ESPRIT (Emerging system concepts for UAS command & control via satellite) study will focus on the provision of communication capacity for Command & Control (C2) links to Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles (UAVs) flying through civilian airspace. As of today, UAVs are operated exclusively in so-called “segregated airspace” where they do not interfere with non-military aircraft.

As the leader of an industrial consortium for ESPRIT, Thales Alenia Space will study solutions at both spectrum and system levels. To cover all aspects of the domain, its team includes major actors in the aeronautical satellite communications, UAS, space systems and regulatory issues.

The European leader in satellite systems and a major player in orbital infrastructures, Thales Alenia Space is a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Finmeccanica (33%). Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio embody the two groups’ “Space Alliance”. With consolidated revenues of 2 billion euros in 2010, Thales Alenia Space has 7,200 employees at 10 industrial sites in France, Italy, Spain, Germany and Belgium.


13-10-11, 04:46 PM
Different but interesting.................

Makani Airborne Wind Turbine First Flight Demonstrates Power Generation and Autonomous Flight

Posted on October 13, 2011 by The Editor

Uploaded by makaniarchives on Aug 30, 2011
The Makani team has achieved a significant milestone in the pursuit of inexpensive renewable energy during a recent flight of its latest prototype, Wing 7. Wing 7 has a wing span of 8 meters, weighs 58.4 kg and has a rated power of 20 kW. This was the first flight of its kind to demonstrate both power generation and the autonomous flight modes needed for launching, landing and crosswind flight. The milestone flight was one of the first crosswind flights of Wing 7. As the controls are refined and planned aerodynamic improvements are added, power generation will increase to the wing's full capacity of 20 kW.

Makani Power is developing Airborne Wind Turbines (AWT) to extract energy from the powerful, consistent winds at high altitudes. Makani’s AWT is a rigid wing that flies at altitudes between 300 and 600 meters. Turbines on the leading edge of the wing face into the wind as it flies and generate energy, which is transmitted to the ground along a tether. Makani AWTs will produce energy at an unsubsidized real cost competitive with coal-fired power plants, the current benchmark of the lowest cost source of power.


The wing flies in circles navigated by the autonomous controllers running on state of the art avionics system. Power is extracted by wing mounted rotors by slowing the wing down. Generated power is transmitted down the tether to the ground station. The bank of lights on the ground station is illuminated to dissipate excess power.

The Wing 7 programme is an 18-month project with quarterly milestones. This flight marks the completion of Makani’s third milestone and the halfway point of the project. Makani plans to demonstrate launching and landing to a perch and a full power curve compliant with IEC standards. Wing 7 has a wing span of 8 meters, weighs 58.4 kg and has a rated power of 20 kW.

This was the first flight of its kind to demonstrate both power generation and the autonomous flight modes needed for launching, landing and crosswind flight.

As the controls are refined and planned aerodynamic improvements are added, power generation will increase to the wing’s full capacity of 20 kW.

Sources: YouTube, Web Site

13-10-11, 04:49 PM
Advances in the Field of Nano UAS

Posted on October 13, 2011 by Guest Contributor Dag Henning Paulsen

The PD-100 Black Hornet PRS is designed as a soldier’s tool, this necessitates that ease of use always be kept in mind throughout the development. For the PD-100 ease of use is multi faceted and includes technical solutions and operational issues, but most importantly it is linked to training requirements. The goal has been to develop a system that can be flown by anyone, with no previous flight experience and minimal training. That requires that the flying of the aircraft must be left to the autopilot, and the overall guidance to the operator. This is not necessarily a new concept, however, realizing this within the constraints of a 15 gram airframe is challenging, especially for outdoors operations in windy conditions.

On a number of occasions over the last months the system has been flown by personnel external to the company. The complexity of the missions flown have varied, from simple local flights to advanced missions with tactical objectives, but common to all is that all flights by external personnel were successfully accomplished after only minutes of introduction. The situational awareness provided by the GUI and flying qualities allow even novice operators to position the aircraft to enable the desired motion and still imagery of a particular target to be acquired.

These tests also demonstrated that mission analysis, for example reviewing still images, can be completed easily whilst airborne. In such cases the aircraft is put into a stationary position, then a live overview can be used to asses and build a plan of action, or previously captured still images may analyzed by using zoom and pan functions.

Another recent achievement which further increases the ease of use has been the introduction of hand launch capability. This fully automated process allows the operator to perform the complete start up and launch sequence from any stance or position (i.e. standing, kneeling or lying down), without the need to access the display or system controls. The user may even relocate to another launch position during the start up phase should that be necessary. In addition to simplifying system operation, this capability adds tactical flexibility to the system as it may be launched, and recovered, from virtually any location.

Restricted by operational constraints?

Operational and environmental constraints, such as wind and turbulence, are often perceived as major obstacles in Nano UAS operations. People would regard flying a 15 gram helicopter out-doors in windy conditions as impossible; based on toy helicopter performance, this may be true, however, the PD-100 Black Hornet’s ability to perform in these conditions differentiates from other ultra small helicopters. It is now regularly flown in more than 10 knots wind without being “blown” out of the sky as many would expect. Sometimes it enters conditions outside its flight envelope, and we have seen it performing tumbles and pirouettes, but in most cases it recovers by itself without any inputs from the operator.

All types of aircraft have operational limitations, and the PD-100 may be more restricted by wind and turbulence than larger platforms. On the other hand, it can operate in conditions not suited to most other air vehicles. The low operating height, typically 30 to 90 feet, and the VTOL capability allows safe flight in fog and reduced visibility conditions, whilst still being able to provide the required video and still images. Fixed wing mini and micro UAS may be unable to operate in such conditions.

Choice of display – a CONOPS issue

The PD-100 Black Hornet is designed without an integrated display, and there are good reasons for this. Our goal in the design phase was to allow the system should to utilize the customer’s existing display system (assuming most modern forces already have one for other uses). Integration with existing display equipment contributes to a reduced total system weight (and a lower increase in soldier’s equipment weight), and provides a more rugged and flexible solution.

Some users prefer to have a tablet sized display, allowing information to be shared in real time between the operator maneuvering the aircraft and a unit commander interpreting the information. The commander can directly use this information and concentrate on leading his unit, including helicopter positioning to provide the required support. Other users may prefer an eyepiece as this enhances mobility and flexibility, but reduces cohesion with a unit’s information and command flow. The operator may then easily relocate and even perform other tasks while still operating the Nano UAS. Maintaining readability in strong light conditions is another benefit provided by the eyepiece solution.

The variety of display scenarios leads us to another interesting and important discussion: Should the imagery collected from UAS be distributed to all the players involved (i.e. to all soldier carrying their own terminal)? There are strong contenders for such a concept, however, feedback from soldiers indicate that there is a real risk of information overload. There is also a risk that the soldiers may concentrate more on the display than the real world around them, which is not an uncommon lesson learned from other types of operation.

The first version of the PD-100 Black Hornet will be a standalone system, thus keeping the system complexity to a minimum. However, future versions could include multi viewer capabilities, either using multiple display terminals or by utilizing the distribution and communication capabilities of the unit’s command and control system.

Introducing the PDD

Prox Dynamics has decided to develop its own display solution specifically designed for the PD-100 Black Hornet – the PDD. This decision was based on the experience gained from system trials, and after carefully considering all other options. We have been unable to identify off-the-shelf units that would fit within the system concept. Available systems are either too heavy, or requires too much power to operate.

Developing our own display unit allows us to closely tailor it to the PD-100 Black Hornet concept. Size, ruggedness and power consumption of the PDD will be aligned with the capabilities of the Black Hornet. Preliminary specifications includes a daylight readable seven inch screen (a size comparable to the Black Hornet), and a mass of approximately 0.6 kg. It will be powered and controlled by the Black Hornet Base station, allowing the system to optimize power consumption and minimize the number of system components. The initial prototypes will be tested in October, and production is planned to begin early next year.

[Dag Henning Paulsen is VP Marketing at ProxDynamics. He has a broad operational background from Royal Norwegian Air Force and Scandinavian Airlines. He spent ten years as an F-16 Pilot, 13 years as a commercial pilot, and has held various management positions in the RNoAF and SAS - Ed.]

13-10-11, 04:50 PM
AAI and Aurora Flight Sciences Integrate UGCS with Orion UAS and Centaur Optionally Piloted Aircraft

Posted on October 13, 2011 by The Editor

AAI Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Aurora Flight Sciences have announced that the organizations have formed a strategic alliance to integrate AAI’s Universal Ground Control Station and other ground control technologies with Aurora’s Orion UAS and Centaur Optionally Piloted Aircraft . This pairing supports medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) missions of up to five days with the Orion UAS, as well as defense, first responder and scientific missions with the Centaur OPA.

The UGCS is a NATO standardization agreement 4586-compliant command-and-control platform based on AAI UAS’ proven One System(R) architecture. It incorporates a digital Tactical Common Data Link for robust bandwidth and data security, and is designed to command and control multiple joint services UAS simultaneously.

“Our Universal Ground Control Station lives up to its name with features for scalability, interoperability and commonality,” says Steven Reid, senior vice president and general manager of AAI UAS. “We currently provide command and control for numerous UAS including the General Atomics Gray Eagle and the Northrop Grumman Hunter. Bringing this same proven capability to the Orion UAS enables this game-changing platform to integrate into the U.S. Army’s layered intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance strategy, and continues our efforts to align with the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s interoperable communications architectures.”

The Orion UAS will demonstrate five-day endurance sorties with 1,000 pounds of payload operating at 20,000 feet in support of the United States Central Command, or CENTCOM, urgent operational need for persistent, multi-intelligence ISR. With an open-architecture payload and ground station interface, the Orion UAS will provide the U.S. Air Force with flexibility to accommodate the myriad payloads suited to the Orion’s design.

The Centaur OPA is ideally suited to allow users to operate as a manned ISR platform, then to be reconfigured as an unmanned system in the field. This flexibility allows users transiting national airspace or in research and development environments to provide ISR to a much broader customer base than available today.

“Integrating the UGCS with Orion and Centaur will ensure they are rapidly available to the warfighter and other customers,” said Dr. John Langford, chief executive officer of Aurora Flight Sciences. “In the current fiscal situation, it is our responsibility to provide the U.S. Department of Defense with affordable and innovative ISR capabilities.”

Under the agreement, the companies also will consider integration of other AAI UAS technologies with the Orion UAS and Centaur OPA. Among these is the Forward Airborne Secure Transmission and Communication, or FASTCOM, mobile telecommunications solution. FASTCOM pods can be utilized aboard airborne assets to create an agile mobile network for voice and data smartphone communications up to Top Secret level. Additionally, the Tactical Sensor Intelligence Sharing, or Tac-SIS(R), System enables manned/unmanned teaming by making UAS data and imagery directly available to pilots via cockpit displays.

[I]Source: Press Release

13-10-11, 04:52 PM
Unmanned Aircraft Landing Mat from Faun Trackway

Posted on October 13, 2011 by The Editor

Faun Trackway USA has announced the development of a new Aircraft Landing Mat (ALM) technology specifically designed for unmanned aircraft use.

After launching in July 2011, Faun’s temporary roadway and landing mat technology has completed a successful testing and demonstration period.

“Faun’s technology allows for mobility in any environment, and unmanned operations require flexibility to land in various climates and terrains,” said USA CEO J. Alun Jones. “The new UAS landing mat will enhance the company’s range of support for the US Armed Forces.”

Describing the UAS landing mat’s use for US military purposes, Jones said “Unmanned aircraft have become a critical element in reconnaissance, surveillance and combat activities, and we are confident that the US will be able to employ this new solution to strengthen its defense infrastructure.”

Faun Trackway USA continues to work with the US Government to test temporary roadway and landing mat solutions.Its Heavy Ground Mobility Solution, a rugged temporary roadway, was tested by the U.S. Navy’s Construction Battalions in August. Testing for the Aircraft Landing Mat continues in Vicksburg, Mississippi at the U.S. Army’s Engineering Research and Development Center.

Mike Holdcraft, Vice President of Business Development at Faun Trackway USA said, “Continuously improving our technology is vital. Testing and innovation is at the heart of our design and development process. We are proud to provide tailor-made technology to our customers, and our approach ensures that all of our products, including the UAS landing mat, are built to meet the specific demands and requirements of the United States military.”

After successfully demonstrating its core competencies, the company remains committed to manufacturing its technology in the United States. “Whatever we sell here will be manufactured here,” Jones stated.

Source: Press Release

14-10-11, 04:25 AM
Archive solves funny-looking Hunter mystery

By Stephen Trimble on October 12, 2011 10:51 PM

Do not adjust your computer display. That's really a Northrop Grumman MQ-5B Hunter unmanned air vehicle (UAV) with enlarged wings and booms. Flightglobal UAV and spaceflight editor Zach Rosenberg spotted the unusual model on Northrop's booth. It stumped us for a while, but then we remembered (with, candidly, some help from Google) that Flightglobal has written about this concept before, although this is the first time we've seen an image.

At the AUVSI 2010 convention last year in Denver, Northrop revealed a plan to modify the Hunter with the wing of the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron. More details:

The new Heron wing would further extend the endurance of the already modified MQ-5B, from 17-21h with a standard electro-optical/infrared payload to 35-40h and the aircraft's ceiling from 18,000ft to 25,000ft, according to Northrop. The new wing would increase its wingspan from 10.3 metres to 16.4 metres but keep the 110l of fuel it carries and the hardpoints that carry 58.97kg (130lbs) on each wing.

14-10-11, 03:58 PM
Datron Invests in Aeryon Labs to Develop Scout Micro-UAV and Expand International Market

Posted on October 14, 2011 by The Editor

Aeryon Scout

Datron World Communications, Inc. a leader in the tactical and public safety communications industry, announced a significant equity investment in Aeryon Labs, a Canadian-based technology innovator of robotics for aerial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

Under terms of the agreement, Datron will become an equity partner in Aeryon Labs while maintaining its private label status and exclusive rights to distribute the Scout through the U.S. Government’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme. FMS funding allows foreign militaries access to U.S. Government-sponsored assistance to purchase advanced communications technologies. The investment will also facilitate worldwide expansion and advance development of the Scout for tactical, government, public safety and commercial markets. Details of the arrangement were not announced.

Datron Scout

“Datron’s passion is to sell cost effective communications products that are extremely easy to use and allow operators to focus on the mission and not the technology, which could ultimately save lives,” states Art Barter, President and CEO of Datron. “Our previous private label agreement with Aeryon Labs solidified the Scout as a natural addition to our company’s product offerings. The Datron investment in Aeryon will further extend the effectiveness of our worldwide distribution network and exclusive U.S. Foreign Military Sales relationships in making Scout the preferred, small form factor Vertical Take Off and Landing solution.”

Recently, Datron and Aeryon successfully completed exhaustive evaluations as part of the URBEX Trials (UK), Spartan Bear (Canada) and Empire Challenge (U.S.). The Scout has also been deployed by the Libyan National Council in their efforts to overthrow the Gadhafi regime.

“Our relationship with Datron has been invaluable to the evolution of Scout, using information from the field and requirements of real users to drive new innovations,” says Dave Kroetsch, President of Aeryon Labs. “Datron’s equity investment will help us put the Scout in the hands of more users worldwide and continue to advance product development for military and commercial applications.”

Datron and Aeryon Labs will continue collaboration on the design and performance of the Scout as users adopt the product and provide valuable input on enhancements required by the soldier, first responder and commercial user in the field.

Source: Press Release

17-10-11, 05:02 AM
America’s Secret Empire of Drone Bases: Its Full Extent Revealed for the First Time

A ground-breaking investigation examines the most secret aspect of America's shadowy drone wars and maps out a world of hidden bases dotting the globe.

October 16, 2011

Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force Photo/Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt

They increasingly dot the planet. There’s a facility outside Las Vegas where “pilots” work in climate-controlled trailers, another at a dusty camp in Africa formerly used by the French Foreign Legion, a third at a big air base in Afghanistan where Air Force personnel sit in front of multiple computer screens, and a fourth that almost no one talks about at an air base in the United Arab Emirates.

And that leaves at least 56 more such facilities to mention in an expanding American empire of unmanned drone bases being set up worldwide. Despite frequent news reports on the drone assassination campaign launched in support of America’s ever-widening undeclared wars and a spate of stories on drone bases in Africa and the Middle East, most of these facilities have remained unnoted, uncounted, and remarkably anonymous -- until now.

Run by the military, the Central Intelligence Agency, and their proxies, these bases -- some little more than desolate airstrips, others sophisticated command and control centers filled with computer screens and high-tech electronic equipment -- are the backbone of a new American robotic way of war. They are also the latest development in a long-evolving saga of American power projection abroad -- in this case, remote-controlled strikes anywhere on the planet with a minimal foreign “footprint” and little accountability.

Using military documents, press accounts and other open source information, an in-depth analysis by AlterNet has identified at least 60 bases integral to U.S. military and CIA drone operations. There may, however, be more, since a cloak of secrecy about drone warfare leaves the full size and scope of these bases distinctly in the shadows.

A Galaxy of Bases

Over the last decade, the American use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) has expanded exponentially as has media coverage of their use. On September 21st, the Wall Street Journal reported that the military has deployed missile-armed MQ-9 Reaper drones on the “island nation of Seychelles to intensify attacks on al Qaeda affiliates, particularly in Somalia.” A day earlier, a Washington Post piece also mentioned the same base on the tiny Indian Ocean archipelago, as well as one in the African nation of Djibouti, another under construction in Ethiopia, and a secret CIA airstrip being built for drones in an unnamed Middle Eastern country (suspected of being Saudi Arabia).

Post journalists Greg Miller and Craig Whitlock reported that the “Obama administration is assembling a constellation of secret drone bases for counterterrorism operations in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula as part of a newly aggressive campaign to attack al-Qaeda affiliates in Somalia and Yemen.” Within days, the Post also reported that a drone from the new CIA base in that unidentified Middle Eastern country had carried out the assassination of radical al-Qaeda preacher and American citizen Anwar al-Aulaqi in Yemen.

With the killing of al-Aulaqi, the Obama Administration has expanded its armed drone campaign to no fewer than six countries, though the CIA, which killed al-Aulaqi, refuses to officially acknowledge its drone assassination program. The Air Force is less coy about its drone operations, yet there are many aspects of those, too, that remain in the shadows. Air Force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel John Haynes recently told AlterNet that, “for operational security reasons, we do not discuss worldwide operating locations of Remotely Piloted Aircraft, to include numbers of locations around the world.”

Still, those 60 military and CIA bases around the world, directly connected to the drone program, tell us a lot about America’s war-making future. From command and control and piloting to maintenance and arming, these facilities perform key functions that allow drone campaigns to continued expanding as they have for more than a decade. Other bases are already under construction or in the planning stages. When presented with our list of Air Force sites within America’s galaxy of drone bases, Lieutenant Colonel Haynes responded, “I have nothing further to add to what I’ve already said.”

Even in the face of government secrecy, however, much can be discovered . Here, then, for the record is a AlterNet accounting of America’s drone bases in the United States and around the world.

The Near Abroad

News reports have frequently focused on Creech Air Force Base outside Las Vegas as ground zero in America’s military drone campaign. Sitting in darkened, air conditioned rooms, 7,500 miles from Afghanistan, drone pilots dressed in flight suits remotely control MQ-9 Reapers and their progenitors, the less heavily-armed MQ-1 Predators. Beside them, sensor operators manipulate the TV camera, infrared camera, and other high-tech sensors on board. Their faces lit up by digital displays showing video feeds from the battle zone, by squeezing a trigger on a joystick one of these Air Force “pilots” can loose a Hellfire missile on a person half a world away.

While Creech gets the lion’s share of attention -- it even has its own drones on site -- numerous other bases on U.S. soil have played critical roles in America’s drone wars. The same video-game-style warfare is carried out by U.S and British pilots not far away at Nevada’s Nellis Air Force Base, the home of the Air Force’s 2nd Special Operations Squadron (SOS). According to a factsheet provided to AlterNet by the Air Force, the 2nd SOS and its drone operators are scheduled to be relocated to the Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field in Florida in the coming months.

Reapers or Predators are also being flown from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona, Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, March Air Reserve Base in California, Springfield Air National Guard Base in Ohio, Cannon Air Force Base and Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, Ellington Airport in Houston, Texas, the Air National Guard base in Fargo, North Dakota, Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, and Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, New York. Recently, it was announced that Reapers, flown by Hancock’s pilots, would begin taking off on training missions from the Army’s Fort Drum, also in New York State. While at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, according to a report by the New York Times earlier this year, teams of camouflage-clad Air Force analysts sit in a secret intelligence and surveillance installation monitoring cell phone intercepts, high altitude photographs, and most notably, multiple screens of streaming live video from drones in Afghanistan -- what they call “Death TV” -- while instant-messaging and talking to commanders on the ground in order to supply them with real-time intelligence on enemy troop movements.

CIA drone operators also reportedly pilot their aircraft from the Agency’s nearby Langley, Virginia headquarters. It was from here that analysts apparently watched footage of Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, for example, thanks to video sent back by the RQ-170 Sentinel, an advanced drone nicknamed the “Beast of Kandahar.” According to Air Force documents, the Sentinel is flown from both Creech Air Force Base and Tonopah Test Range in Nevada.

Predators, Reapers, and Sentinels are just part of the story. At Beale Air Force Base in California, Air Force personnel pilot the RQ-4 Global Hawk, an unmanned drone used for long-range, high-altitude surveillance missions, some of them originating from Anderson Air Force Base in Guam (a staging ground for drone flights over Asia). Other Global Hawks are stationed at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota, while the Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio manages the Global Hawk as well as the Predator and Reaper programs for the Air Force.

Other bases have been intimately involved in training drone operators, including Randolph Air Force Base in Texas and New Mexico’s Kirtland Air Force Base, as is the Army’s Fort Huachuca in Arizona which is home to, according to a report by National Defense magazine, “the world’s largest UAV training center.” There, hundreds of employees of defense giant General Dynamics train military personnel to fly smaller tactical drones like the Hunter and Shadow. The physical testing of drones goes on at adjoining Libby Army Airfield and “two UAV runways located approximately four miles west of Libby,” according to Global Security, an on-line clearinghouse for military information.

Additionally, small drone training for the Army is carried out at Fort Benning in Georgia while at Fort Rucker, Alabama -- “the home of Army aviation” -- the Unmanned Aircraft Systems program coordinates doctrine, strategy, and concepts pertaining to UAVs. Recently, Fort Benning also saw the early testing of true robotic drones – which fly without human guidance or a hand on any joystick. This is considered, wrote the Washington Post, the next step toward a future in which drones will “hunt, identify, and kill the enemy based on calculations made by software, not decisions made by humans.”

The Army has also carried out UAV training exercises at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah and, earlier this year, the Navy launched its X-47B, a next-generation semi-autonomous stealth drone, on its first flight at Edwards Air Force Base in California. That flying robot -- designed to operate from the decks of aircraft carriers -- has since been sent on to Maryland’s Naval Air Station Patuxent River for further testing. At nearby Webster Field, the Navy worked out kinks in its Fire Scout pilotless helicopter, which has also been tested at Fort Rucker, Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, and Florida’s Mayport Naval Station and Jacksonville Naval Air Station. The latter base was also where the Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) unmanned aerial system was developed and is now, along with Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington State, based.

Foreign Jewels in the Crown

The Navy is actively looking for a suitable site in the Western Pacific for a BAMS base, and is currently in talks with several Persian Gulf states for one in that region, as well. It already has Global Hawks perched at its base in Sigonella, Italy.

The Air Force is now negotiating with Turkey to relocate some of the Predator drones still operating in Iraq to the giant air base at Incirlik next year. Many different UAVs have been based in Iraq since the American invasion of that country, including small tactical models like Raven-B’s that troops launched by hand from Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Shadow UAVs that flew from Forward Operating Base Normandy in Baqubah Province, Predators operating out of Balad Airbase, miniature Desert Hawk drones launched from Tallil Air Base, and Scan Eagles based at Al Asad Air Base.

Elsewhere in the Greater Middle East, according to Aviation Week, the military is launching Global Hawks from Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates, piloted by personnel stationed at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland, to track “shipping traffic in the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and Arabian Sea.” There are unconfirmed reports that the CIA may be operating drones from that country as well. In the past, at least, other UAVs have apparently been flown from Kuwait’s Ali Al Salem Air Base and Al Jaber Air Base, as well as Seeb Air Base in Oman.

At Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, the Air Force runs an air operations command and control facility, critical to the drone wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The new secret CIA base on the Arabian peninsula, used to assassinate Anwar al-Aulaqi, may or may not be an airstrip in Saudi Arabia whose existence a senior U.S. military official recently confirmed to FOX News. In the past, the CIA has also operated UAVs out of Tuzel, Uzbekistan.

In neighboring Afghanistan, drones fly from many bases including Jalalabad Air Base, Kandahar Air Field, the air base at Bagram, Camp Leatherneck, Camp Dwyer, Combat Outpost Payne, Forward Operating Base (FOB) Edinburgh and FOB Delaram II, to name a few. Afghan bases are, however, more than just locations where drones take off and land.

It is a common misperception that U.S.-based operators are the only ones who “fly” America’s armed drones. In fact, in and around America’s war zones, UAVs begin and end their flights under the control of local “pilots.” Take Afghanistan’s massive Bagram Air Base. After performing preflight checks alongside a technician who focuses on the drone’s sensors, a local airman sits in front of a Dell computer tower and multiple monitors, two keyboards, a joystick, a throttle, a rollerball, a mouse, and various switches and oversees the plane’s takeoff before handing it over to a stateside counterpart with a similar electronics set-up. After the mission is complete, the controls are transferred back to the local operators for the landing. Additionally, crews in Afghanistan perform general maintenance and repairs on the drones.

In the wake of a devastating suicide attack by an al-Qaeda double agent that killed CIA officers and contractors at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Khost in 2009, it came to light that the facility was heavily involved in target selection for drone strikes across the border in Pakistan. The drones themselves, as the Washington Post noted at the time, were “flown from separate bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Both the Air Force and CIA have conducted operations in Pakistani air space, with some missions originating in Afghanistan and others from inside Pakistan. In 2006, images of what appear to be Predator drones stationed at Shamsi Air Base in Pakistan's Balochistan province were found on Google Earth and later published. In 2009, the New York Times reported that operatives from Xe Services, the company formerly known as Blackwater, had taken over the task of arming Predator drones at the CIA’s “hidden bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

Following the May Navy SEAL raid into Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden, that country’s leaders reportedly ordered the United States to leave Shamsi. The Obama administration evidently refused and word leaked out, according to the Washington Post, that the base was actually owned and sublet to the U.S. by the United Arab Emirates, which had built the airfield “as an arrival point for falconry and other hunting expeditions in Pakistan.”

The U.S. and Pakistani governments have since claimed that Shamsi is no longer being used for drone strikes. True or not, the U.S. evidently also uses other drone bases in Pakistan, including possibly PAF Base Shahbaz, located near the city of Jacocobad, and another base located near Ghazi.

The New Scramble for Africa

Recently, the headline story, when it comes to the expansion of the empire of drone bases, has been Africa. For the last decade, the U.S. military has been operating out of Camp Lemonier, a former French Foreign Legion base in the tiny African nation of Djibouti. Not long after the attacks of September 11, 2001, it became a base for Predator drones and has since been used to conduct missions over neighboring Somalia.

For some time, rumors have also been circulating about a secret American base in Ethiopia. Recently, a U.S. official revealed to the Washington Post that discussions about a drone base there had been underway for up to four years, “but that plan was delayed because ‘the Ethiopians were not all that jazzed.’” Now construction is evidently underway, if not complete.

Then, of course, there is that drone base on the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean. A small fleet of Navy and Air Force drones began operating openly there in 2009 to track pirates in the region’s waters. Classified diplomatic cables obtained by Wikileaks, however, reveal that those drones have also secretly been used to carry out missions in Somalia. “Based in a hangar located about a quarter-mile from the main passenger terminal at the airport,” the Post reports, the base consists of three or four “Reapers and about 100 U.S. military personnel and contractors, according to the cables.”

The U.S. has also recently sent four smaller tactical drones to the African nations of Uganda and Burundi for use by those countries’ own militaries.

New and Old Empires

Even if the Pentagon budget were to begin to shrink in the coming years, expansion of America’s empire of drone bases is a sure thing in the years to come. Drones are now the bedrock of Washington’s future military planning and -- with counterinsurgency out of favor -- the preferred way of carrying out wars abroad.

During the eight years of George W. Bush’s presidency, as the U.S. was building up its drone fleets, the country launched wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and carried out limited strikes in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia, using drones in at least four of those countries. In less than three years under President Obama, the U.S. has launched drone strikes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen. It maintains that it has carte blanche to kill suspected enemies in any nation (or at least any nation in the global south).

According to a report by the Congressional Budget office published earlier this year, “the Department of Defense (DoD) plans to purchase about 730 new medium-sized and large unmanned aircraft systems” over the next decade. In practical terms, this means more drones like the Reaper.

Military officials told the Wall Street Journal that the Reaper “can fly 1,150 miles from base, conduct missions and return home… the time a drone can stay aloft depends on how heavily armed it is.” According to a drone operator training document obtained by AlterNet, at maximum payload, meaning with 3,750 pounds worth of Hellfire missiles and GBU-12 or GBU-30 bombs on board, the Reaper can remain aloft for 16 to 20 hours. Even a glance at a world map tells you that, if the U.S. is to carry out ever more drone strikes across the developing world, it will need more bases for its future UAVs. As an unnamed senior military official pointed out to a Washington Post reporter, speaking of all those new drone bases clustered around the Somali and Yemeni war zones, “If you look at it geographically, it makes sense -- you get out a ruler and draw the distances [drones] can fly and where they take off from.”

Earlier this year, an analysis by TomDispatch.com determined that there are more than 1,000 U.S. military bases scattered across the globe -- a shadowy base-world that provides plenty of existing sites that can, and no doubt will, host drones. But facilities selected for a pre-drone world may not always prove optimal locations for America’s current and future undeclared wars and assassination campaigns. So further expansion in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia is likely.

What are the Air Force’s plans in this regard? Lieutenant Colonel John Haynes was typically circumspect. “We are constantly evaluating potential operating locations based on evolving mission needs,” he said. If the last decade is any indication, those “needs” will only continue to grow.

Nick Turse is the associate editor of TomDispatch.com and a senior editor at AlterNet. His latest book is The Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan (Verso). You can follow him on Twitter @NickTurse, on Tumblr, and on Facebook.

This article marks another of Turse’s joint Alternet/TomDispatch investigative reports on U.S. national security policy and American empire.

17-10-11, 10:57 AM
And that leaves at least 56 more such facilities to mention in an expanding American empire of unmanned drone bases being set up worldwide. Despite frequent news reports on the drone assassination campaign launched in support of America’s ever-widening undeclared wars and a spate of stories on drone bases in Africa and the Middle East, most of these facilities have remained unnoted, uncounted, and remarkably anonymous -- until now.

Gotta love illiterate journalists.


17-10-11, 12:19 PM
Wot? You've never seen unmanned bases..............you can just fly off your own Predator and go and bomb the Tax office!

18-10-11, 12:11 AM
Northrop Cements Korean Global Hawk Push

Oct 17, 2011

By Robert Wall

LONDON — Northrop Grumman is signing industrial agreements with South Korean industry to support the company’s efforts to sell the high-altitude, long-endurance RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft to the country.

The four industrial agreements are due to be signed next week during the Seoul air show. The deals will allow the South Korean partners to bid for workshare on Global Hawk. Partners include the Dreaming and Challenging Co., Firstec, Korea Jig and Fixture, and Korean Air Lines.

South Korea is looking to acquire four Global Hawks. The imagery intelligence aircraft would be in the Block 30 configuration.

The first delivery of the Global Hawk to South Korea is expected around 2014.

This marks one of several international efforts for Global Hawk. This week, a signals-intelligence version for Germany, the Euro Hawk, was formally displayed. The first, for testing, is due to be delivered to the German air force next year. Germany also has expressed interest in buying the imagery-intelligence version toward the end of the decade.

Meanwhile, NATO also is hoping to finalize acquisition of the Global Hawk-based Alliance Ground Surveillance system.

Photo: Northrop Grumman

18-10-11, 01:10 AM
AAI unveils Shadow M2

By: Zach Rosenberg Washington DC

9 hours ago


AAI has unveiled the Shadow M2, a significantly larger and heavier version of its RQ-7B Shadow, the US Army's standard tactical unmanned air vehicle (UAV).

The wingspan of the Shadow M2 grows from 20ft to 25ft (6.1m to 7.6m), and the aircraft is heavier by 120lb (54.4kg). It also features a redesigned fuselage, replacing the signature box with a streamlined, lift-generating structure. These changes extend the flight duration to 16h.

"Basically the internal guts are the same internal guts that are in the upgraded RQ-7B," said Steven Reid, senior vice-president of AAI. "It's just that we can now carry additional payload and make use of that increased bandwidth that the TCDL [tactical common datalink] gives us."

© US Army

With the M2 upgrades, Shadow M2 can carry two separate payloads instead of the standard single EO/IR turrets.

The company plans to test a number of payloads, including two synthetic aperture radars, wide-area surveillance, signals intelligence and electronic warfare packages.

The aircraft will use a new Lycoming engine that generates 60lb of thrust, up from 35lb, and a five-blade propeller. The engine is undergoing static tests and is expected to make its first flight in early 2012.

"It's up against the stops on all the constraints, but it's the most performance you can get out of this tactical class," said Reid.

Design of the M2 has not been wholly finalised, and none have been produced yet. A test bed, called Shadow M, has been flying for several months. The first flight of the Shadow M2 is expected in late summer 2012, depending on customer interest.

The weight increase necessitates changes to the existing AAI launcher, although the extent of these modifications has yet to be determined.

18-10-11, 01:34 AM
Successful Unmanned Helicopter Test Flights from German Police Ship

Posted on October 17, 2011 by The Editor

On 16 September, ESG Elektroniksystem-und-Logistik-GmbH together with Swiss UAV AG and the German Federal Police successfully conducted experimental flights with the Unmanned Mission Avionics Test Helicopter (UMAT) from a Federal Police ship in the Baltic Sea.

With these flights, the companies continued their analyses and verifications on unmanned aircraft systems. The UMAT proved its operational capabilities in the maritime environment and conducted precision takeoffs and landings from the ship.

The UMAT is based on a NEO-S300/-S350 from Swiss UAV AG. This Vertical Take Off and Landing Unmanned Aircraft System (VTOL UAS) type was operated during this Federal Police feasibility study with ordinary diesel fuel that is available onboard the ship.

The UMAT has the following features that are essential for its successful and safe operation from a ship:

■ Heading determination close to the ship with GPS-alignment, without magnetometer
■ GPS vessel tracking function with constant distance and speed
■ Automatic UAV control relative to the ship’s movement (“Relative Stick Mode”, speed, course)
■ Fully redundant mission control station
■ Dual data link connection on two different frequency channels for secure data communication between the UAS and the mission control station.

During the UMAT flights the following flight phases were successfully demonstrated:

■ Precision takeoff from the ship´s helicopter deck under way
■ Hover at constant altitude and constant distance from the ship
■ Mission flights in “Relative Stick-mode”
■ Mission flights in “Mission Control Mode”
■ Precision approach and landing on the helicopter deck under way

In addition, the integrated, stabilised Gimbal sent video data in real-time to the mission control station during all phases of the flight.

The Federal Police ship BP 21 “Bredstedt” is 65.4 m long and 9.2 m wide and has a 9 m x 11 m helicopter deck. The Bredstedt is used for example for the border police protection of German territory and therefore belongs to the area of responsibility of the Coast Guard.

Parallel to the UMAT-flight campaign Swiss UAV AG and EADS Astrium tested with a second VTOL UAS a precision navigation system (Integrated Precision Landing System) to support accurate landing on the helicopter deck. These tests were very successful and underline the broad integration capabilities of the UMAT system.

Because of the open system design of ESG´s UMAT and its mission control station, various military and civilian tasks can be studied and different equipment can be integrated. In August the UMAT successfully completed test flights with the miniaturised Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) SUMATRA from the Fraunhofer Institute for High Frequency Physics and Radar Technology.

For almost five decades, ESG has been one of Germany’s leading companies for the development, integration and operation of electronic and IT systems. With more than 1500 employees globally, it provides logistics, system development, training and consultancy services for military, government and industry customers.

Independent process and technology consultancy is one of ESG’s key areas of expertise. By enabling technology transfer between markets, it can make a decisive contribution to the added value of its customers.

Source: Press Release

18-10-11, 02:19 PM
Pentagon Contract Announcement

(Source: U.S Department of Defense; issued October 17, 2011)

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., San Diego, Calif., is being awarded a $15,053,962 firm-fixed-price contract for the Italian Air Force MQ-9 Reaper Program providing for two MQ-9 Reaper air vehicles; three LYNX Block 30 radars; and one spare engine.

The contract supports Foreign Military Sales to Italy (100 percent).

ASC/WIIK, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8620-10-G-3038 0006).


18-10-11, 03:46 PM
BAE Demon Demonstrates First Flapless Aircraft Flight

Posted on October 18, 2011 by The Editor

BAE Systems has developed the world’s first ”flapless” aircraft, which uses small jets of air to manipulate the flow over the aircraft to manoeuvre instead of conventional hinged control surfaces. The revolutionary prototype of the Demon unmanned aircraft has just made its maiden flight on Walney Island, off the Cumbrian Coast.

Click here to view a video of this flight. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-11431662

The demonstrator has been built under a project to explore technologies destined for use on future unmanned aircraft systems. The aircraft is the outcome of a project called FLAVIIR (Flapless Air Vehicle Integrated Industrial Research). This is a five-year, £6.5 million programme jointly funded by BAE Systems and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

FLAVIIR brings together 10 universities, led by Cranfield University and BAE Systems. Its major focus is to develop the technologies needed to build a low-cost, low maintenance UAS with no conventional control surfaces, such as wing flaps and without losing any performance compared to conventional aircraft.

Matt Pearson, Demon Delivery Manager, said the aircraft is an 80kg, jet-powered UAS with a wing span of 2.7 metres. It was designed at Cranfield University, with the support of the other partner institutions, and manufacture and assembly has been carried out jointly by Cranfield’s Composite Manufacturing Centre and BAE Systems apprentices.

Matt described the apprentices working on Demon as the “engineers of the future, working on the products of the future”. He said they had taken the air frame, fitted it out, and added all the wiring and electrical systems needed to create a working, functioning aircraft.

Richard Williams, Programme Director Future Capability, is delighted with the Demon’s progress: “Projects such as Demon have several advantages for BAE Systems.

“They help to ensure we get the greatest benefit from our invested research money and offer continued benefit from the increase in the capability and competencies of the universities involved.”

Developers believe that the removal of hinged surfaces may lower aircraft through life costs and may even reduce the ability of radar to detect the aircraft.

Sources: BBC, BAE Web Site

19-10-11, 02:09 AM
Self-Regulated World Sought For UAVs

Oct 18, 2011

By David A. Fulghum

There is growing interest in a U.S. aviation force—perhaps based primarily on existing aircraft in the effort to save shrinking defense dollars—that could carry out precision surveillance and strike missions thousands of miles away.

That capability would be particularly useful in the Pacific Rim where U.S. bases are sited far from several hot spots. Chief among those are the mineral riches of the disputed South and East China seas, the pirate-ridden Malacca Strait, the human- and drug-smuggling routes into sparsely populated northern Australia, illegal fishing in almost every country’s territorial waters and the transfer of prohibited nuclear and missile technologies from North Korea.

Connecting the airborne platforms—and the extremely important output of their sensors—would be a largely autonomous network based on cooperating super computers and sophisticated data links. The network would handle intelligence, sifting it for targets and monitoring all the allied aircraft in-theater for their location, fuel, sensors and weapons. Once a target of interest is located, super computers at the heart of the network would analyze the activity and decide whether additional surveillance is needed. The target also would be scanned for electronic activity. If a strike is deemed necessary, available weapons—explosive, electronic or cyber—would be deployed.

The Heterogeneous Airborne Reconnaissance Team (HART) system is being designed to glue all these elements together.

“HART as now used is an information collector and tasker,” says Scott Winship, a veteran Northrop Grumman team leader for prototype systems. “It puts into a big holding tank [using cloud computing]. It’s mostly based on real-time video, electro-optical (EO) and infrared (IR) images, and the process for putting together a signals intelligence [sigint] package. We task and integrate sensors and then turn any of that collected data into usable information and new collection tasks.”

Other specialists hint at the technology’s potential. An integrated next-generation sigint design, for example, might be able to “see” a push-to-talk radio, confirm its identify and tag it. An autonomous unmanned aerial system (UAS) could then follow, via video, the cell phone and the car it is in. When the phone rings, the collector would be able to capture and understand the conversion.

In an associated effort, the U.S. Air Force has established an RQ-4 Global Hawk UAS reconnaissance center on Guam. Moreover, Global Hawk is becoming part of a larger intelligence networking construct that includes the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and the National Geo-spatial Intelligence Agency (NGA). The latter organization is focused on understanding what is on Earth, why it is there, its meaning and the context of its activity. By adding real-time UAS surveillance, analysts can start anticipating events.

“[NGA’s role] really is activity-based intelligence and what might happen next,” says its director, Letitia Long. “So we’re moving into more of an anticipatory mode. We bring as many pieces of information as we can by using [multi-intelligence] fusion and non-traditional sources.

“It takes what we know about the Earth’s physical features, both natural and man-made, and adds to it imagery,” Long says. “We get imagery from anyplace we can. That includes commercial radar imagery [and via] national technical means such as satellites that NRO builds for us. [Also in use are] both foreign and domestic commercial images, airborne manned and unmanned, hand-held [digital cameras] and increasingly, non-traditional sources [such as social media]. We’re concentrating on strengthening analysis through bringing in those different sources of information and looking for different phenomenology as new sensors and technologies are introduced.”

A veteran Northrop Grumman engineer who has spent 25 years building prototype systems may have a small-scale version of a large-scale answer to the networking problem. With further development, he sees it expanding to include all types of aircraft, including some non-traditional combat platforms, and encompassing an entire theater such as the Pacific Ocean and Asia.

Winship, who has slipped in and out of Northrop Grumman’s black world in recent years, is now immersed in HART in conjunction with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) and other aerospace companies such as BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin.

HART has three projected layers so far. The top one is to provide the strategic command function. The bottom enables tactical sensor collection. The middle layer—for decision-making, tasking and data fusion—appears to be the most complicated and is shared by many companies that each develop diverse, specialized algorithms.

“In the middle is the fusion that we’re trying to get together on with Darpa in a program called ‘Insight,’” Winship says. “It ties together all the information and then tasks it. Our part of the middle layer is to enable HART to be the engine that goes out and collects what is commanded. In an expanded version, “[Insight] figures out what needs to be collected and tells HART to go do it. HART comes back with the information, asks who needs it and [what else] is needed,” he says.

NGA’s Long described her agency’s work as development of algorithm-manipulated, “activity-based intelligence” that is parsed in a way to determine what might happen next. This anticipatory capability is associated with the fusion of lots of data from sensors with diverse phenomenology.

“HART can be all of that, plus tasking assets to get the [additional] data to put the puzzle together,” Winship says. “Certain kinds of intelligence—sigint, elint, EO/IR and images—can generate a pattern. We’re knitting all those things together in order to provide information from a lot of disparate data.”

Data are sent from a portable computer that directs small UAS, for example, to the operations center and elsewhere. Along each step of the way, additional computers enable more storage, integration and fusing of data, enabling the system to become a real-time generator of information.

“The next substantiation of HART will be to enable different kinds of sensors and information to be on the network,” Winship says. “After that, the task will be to put a much more strategic layer on it [enabling] it to handle longer distances, bigger files and larger imagery. That will build out of the middle layer.”

There is at least the vision of a reconnaissance-strike network with a theater-wide footprint.

“It would be possible to create a network that would reach from Hickam [AFB, Hawaii] to collect information on the Pacific Rim,” Winship says. “But that’s not what we’re about right now. . . . [A]s long as there are the data links, we don’t care what the information gatherer is or where it comes from. It doesn’t matter if you are in the South China Sea or Kandahar, [Afghanistan].”

The HART technology also could be scaled and transferred to both the strike and reconnaissance worlds.

“I’m a big believer in long-range strike, and I’ve been slugging away at [unmanned combat air systems] for a long time,” Winship says. “[Some of us believe] that’s the way technology ought to move to get a good capability [for penetrating defenses]—which unmanned allows—and HART is a piece of that.

“No matter what is done with long-range strike, whether sea- or land-based, algorithms like these enable long-range, persistent UAVs,” Winship says. “Algorithms that disconnect long, boring missions from the constant attention of an operator are something that has to be done anyway.”

There are other combat benefits if some basic problems can be solved.

“It’s easy for me to do a briefing on unmanned combat air systems, but there is very little that can knit all these things together,” Winship says. “With HART, we’re enabling these little, inexpensive UAVs and making them ‘no-kidding’ targeting weapons.”

Raytheon also is addressing the concept. Researchers there have completed the first test of the Miniature Air Launched Decoy Jammer (MALD-J) in a simulated operational environment. The 300-lb. MALDs, some in free flight and others in captive-carry, demonstrated they could protect manned aircraft through electronic attack while operating as part of a manned aircraft strike package.

[I]Photo: Alan Radecki

19-10-11, 01:21 PM
Ultra Electronics tri-fuel engine flies SPEAR UAS

October 19, 2011

Brock Technologies, Incorporated, a fast emerging rapid unmanned systems solutions provider, has teamed with Ultra Electronics Precision Air Systems, a leading aerospace and defense systems company , to integrate an impressive and capable propulsion technology, the DF-70. The DF-70 is a heavy fuel, fuel injected, internal combustion engine that is capable of operating on different fuels for extended periods of time.

After a short period of very successful ground based testing, the Ultra Electronics' DF-70 was integrated onto the Brock Technologies' SPEAR Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) for flight testing. The SPEAR UAS features an independently shifting wing and fuselage pod enabling it to be reconfigured to hold a wide variety of payloads without the need for ballast. In early 2010, the SPEAR flew in an electric configuration for over 1 hour while carrying 14 pounds of payload and drawing a nominal 375W of power. Now, the SPEAR has been fitted with the DF-70 3HP heavy fuel engine enabling it to achieve flight times longer than any other UAS in its class. During the maiden flight with the DF-70, the SPEAR weighed in at 28.95 lbs and demonstrated cruising speeds of 36 kts and mild dashes at just over half power of 62kts. Keith Brock, Vice President of Brock Technologies, Inc. said, "Each flight we are slowly expanding the SPEAR's flight envelope as we unleash the power of the DF-70 and work our way up to full power and full endurance." Keith is known for his UAS designs with his past employers such as the BAE( formally Advanced Ceramics Research) Silver Fox Block A, Silver Fox Block B, Manta Block A, and Raytheon Missile System's Cobra UAS. "It is a good feeling to improve upon capabilities of past designs in the same class." he adds.

During the maiden flight, the DF-70 engine utilized Jet-A fuel. However, the DF-70 is capable of utilizing other fuels such as JP-8, Diesel or Mo-Gas. Keith described the engine as a "powerful beast at full throttle with an unmatched low, quiet idle" that will give the Brock SPEAR high speed dash capability, a reduced noise signature for ISR and a potential hand launched capability reducing the logistical footprint of other systems with catapult launchers.

Brock sees real opportunities for the DF-70 equipped SPEAR in the currently small but growing numbers of civil applications such as firefighting, costal, pipeline and power line monitoring where a human observer would be at risk or too cost prohibitive for the operation. Further advantages can be seen with police observation of civil disturbances, crime scenes, and reconnaissance support in natural disasters.

The modular construction and adjustable wing position of the Brock SPEAR and low development risk also make this platform suitable for very fast configuration changes for different mass payloads. The new addition of the DF-70 to the SPEAR permit can increase in sensor payload and longer flight times, making this system a perfect match for the military and other UAS applications.

"Working with Ultra Electronics on this project has been amazing." Keith says. "You can see the innovative approach in their product and as a result, Ultra has provided the market with a highly reliable engine. Their product's quality and company's support has enabled us to have nothing but success."

Source: Brock Technologies

19-10-11, 04:05 PM
NASA Develops ACAT Auto-GCAS Smart Phone App

Posted on October 19, 2011 by The Editor

DROID with F-16D - Photo: NASA / Tony Landis

A small hobby-type radio-controlled model aircraft is being transformed into a high-tech flight research aircraft at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center and will be used to develop such a ’sense-and-avoid’ application for smart phones.

The aircraft, dubbed DROID for Dryden Remotely Operated Integrated Drone, is the newest – and smallest – member of NASA Dryden’s flight research aircraft stable. A second DROID aircraft is already serving as a small, low-cost, reduced-risk trainer for pilots of Dryden’s unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, while a third is used for NASA educational programs.

The flight research DROID aircraft is moving up to the big leagues as Dryden’s Automatic Collision Avoidance Technology (ACAT) Ground Collision Avoidance System team installs software architecture on the aircraft in order to demonstrate that even the simplest flight systems may benefit from the ACAT Auto-GCAS software.

“We want to demonstrate that our software will work on a simple, hobby-grade UAS as well as on multi-million-dollar fighter aircraft,” said Jack Ryan, chief engineer on Dryden’s ACAT, and now DROID Auto-GCAS, projects.

Last year, NASA, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin completed a joint demonstration of the technology aboard an F-16D as pilots hurtled the airplane toward the ground and at mountains while flying hundreds of miles per hour.

Though the little DROID tools along at an easy 70 knots, it makes for an affordable, low-risk and effective way to test the miniaturized Auto-GCAS system before an operational system can be installed on a multi-million-dollar unmanned aircraft like Dryden’s Ikhana, one of the project’s eventual goals. ”We have several goals for this effort,” said Auto-GCAS project manager Mark Skoog. “They include demonstrating the use of a smart phone to execute our Dryden-modified ACAT Auto-GCAS software algorithm, and collecting sufficient data to refine the system’s performance. ”We also plan to demonstrate an Auto-GCAS integration approach for UAVs that requires no increase to aircraft weight,” he added. “We then intend to transition the ACAT Auto-GCAS to an alternate platform other than a fighter aircraft, and demonstrate its portability onto a large-scale UAV.”

The team would also like to provide a smart phone Auto-GCAS app for general aviation pilots. Imagine a general aviation pilot with a standard smart phone downloading an Auto-GCAS app, along with a Google world terrain database app currently available, in order to flag potential terrain hazards during flight. Appropriately, the Auto-GCAS software is installed on a Motorola Droid X smart phone. Project engineers needed a smart phone with the open Android operating system architecture so that they could modify it to run their Dryden-developed Auto-GCAS software formula.

Added to the Auto-GCAS software-equipped smart phone at the heart of the plane’s avionics is a small Piccolo autopilot. The combination turns the simple hobby-grade, radio-controlled model aircraft into an advanced-technology flight research aircraft. The Piccolo autopilot is a full-function, programmable, autonomous flight-capable autopilot. It includes lost communications capability; if radio communications are lost during a mission, the autopilot directs the plane to enter a loitering flight pattern while it waits to resume the mission. The autopilot provides above-average stability for such a small aircraft, and it also provides pilots with the feel and feedback of a larger aircraft.

New technologies to be tested by the project team include multi-trajectory ground-collision escape predictions, compressed digital terrain elevation data, and hosting of the algorithms, or software formulas, on the smart phone. The smart phone will eventually be installed to fly aboard the aircraft following initial flights during which the phone will remain on the ground but will be used in the operational loop.

To test the Auto-GCAS software’s capability to pull up and sharply turn the airplane to prevent collision, the DROID airplane will be purposefully aimed first at flat ground and then at local hills. The DROID aircraft is flown remotely from a mobile ground-control-station van fitted with the latest digital flight displays. A safety pilot maintains visual contact with the airplane and can take over control with a handheld radio transmitter.

Mike Marston, Deputy Program Manager for Operations for NASA contractor Jacobs-Tybrin, is the DROID aircraft project lead as well as operations engineer for the Small UAS project, of which DROID is part. He’s thrilled with the DROID team’s progress so far.

“Supporting the ACAT SUAS Auto-GCAS effort has provided the DROID project team the opportunity to begin flight research with the DROID aircraft,” Marston said. “We are very excited to begin this new phase because it introduces DROID as a low-cost, sub-scale solution to flight research opportunities. We see the potential for additional automatic collision-avoidance flight research prospects with the center’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration into the National Air Space, or UAS in the NAS, project in the near future as well.”

NASA Dryden funds the DROID aircraft project, while the Auto-GCAS project flights are funded by the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense and the U.S. Air Force.

Source: NASA

19-10-11, 04:06 PM
IAI Tests Unmanned Helicopter

Posted on October 19, 2011 by The Editor

Israel Aerospace Industries has become the latest company to offer an unmanned helicopter for combat resupply and medevac missions.

Avi Bleser, marketing director of IAI’s Malat UAS division, said that although tests of the automated flight control system have so far been performed on a Bell 212, the system is platform neutral.

Blesser said that to prove the accuracy of its flight control system, a basketball was attached to the helicopter with a rope. The aircraft was manoeuvred using the ground station to repeatedly place the ball into the basket.

IAI plans to use the same ground station to control the helicopter as it already uses for its fixed-wing UAVs to ensure “commonalty and ease of operation”.

The IAI initiative comes after fellow Israeli company Elbit Systems won a contract in May to develop a cargo unmanned air system for the Israel Defense Forces.

The project has been dubbed the “Flying Elephant” and is aimed at providing front-line resupply missions.

Source: Flight Global

19-10-11, 04:08 PM
Elbit’s Ackerman: Business As Usual with Turkey

Posted on October 19, 2011 by The Editor

Elbit Systems President and CEO Joseph Ackerman gave an interview to “Globes” at AUSA in Washington DC last week, in which he minimises the impact that the deterioration in Israel’s relationships with Turkey is having on his business . Here is an extract:

“Globes”: How has the deterioration in relations with Turkey affected Elbit Systems?

Ackerman: “It’s had no effect. As a citizen, I think that Israel should develop friendly relations with a large number of countries, just as I strive to maximize the number of Elbit’s partnerships with foreign companies. My heart is pained by every country that declares that it’s not our friend. I don’t know the calculations that led to the deterioration, and I cannot say who is to blame. But the deterioration in relations has not affected Elbit so far.

“We have an air reconnaissance project with Turkey, which I don’t think will be affected. As far as we’re concerned, the Turks know how to separate business and politics. Our people go to Turkey for work, and they come to us. My concern is focused on the future: I don’t expect new projects anytime soon.”

Does military cooperation with a country, which has said that it will send warships to the Mediterranean and is perceived as hostile to Israel, harm Israel’s security?

“Such concerns always exist. That’s why Israel set up a meticulous screening system for transactions with other countries. This system is supposed to decide what is permitted and with whom. To date, we haven’t found that this deal has caused any leak of information or endangered Israel.

“What will happen in the future? I hope nothing. But we mustn’t forget: it’s impossible to have a defense industry without exports. For our part, I can say that we are very careful. It’s a fact that we didn’t get into trouble with the Americans over arms sales to China. We knew in advance which way the wind was blowing.”

How have UAVs contributed to your bottom line?

“The US accounts for 75% of the global UAV market. We, and all other Israeli defense companies, have no foothold in the US UAV market. I don’t know why. They simply don’t import UAVs. What’s left is the remaining 25% of the global market, where Elbit is the leader. Israel is the world’s second biggest UAV market, and Elbit makes 80% of the IDF’s UAVs.

“In Europe, we’re part of the British Army’s Watchkeeper Programme with Thales, the biggest UAV project on the continent. In Afghanistan, our Hermes 450 UAV serves with the British Army. Altogether, Elbit’s UAVs have accumulated 300,000 hours in the air in all arenas, including Israel. There are few companies that can claim such an achievement.”

Source: Globes

19-10-11, 04:10 PM
South Korea’s Tilt-Rotor VTOL UAS

Posted on October 19, 2011 by The Editor

According to a report by According to a report by Yonhap News Agency, South Korea is developing a tilt-rotor type of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which has the same vertical-takeoff capability of a helicopter but still retains the speed and range of a traditional, winged aircraft.

“We’re one of only a few countries in the world developing a tilt-rotor UAV,” Noh Dae-rae, head of the Defense Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA), was quoted saying during the 17th International Aerospace Symposium in Seoul. South Korea is developing a tilt-rotor type of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which has the same vertical-takeoff capability of a helicopter but still retains the speed and range of a traditional, winged aircraft.

[Pictured above is the Smart UAV that Sikorsky has been developing with Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) for several years]

Source: Yonhap News Agency

20-10-11, 11:32 AM
Innocon eyes follow-on MicroFalcon deal in Asia

By: Arie Egozi Tel Aviv

3 hours ago


The initial contract to supply Innocon's MicroFalcon unmanned air system (UAS) to an undisclosed Asian customer could be followed by orders for additional systems that will be manufactured and assembled in a local facility.

Earlier this year the Israeli company won a contract to supply 50 MicroFalcon systems.

Innocon chief executive Michael Armon said on 11 October that the client plans to use the aircraft for forest fire detection, control of drug trafficking and power line-monitoring tasks.

"The first 100 UASs will be manufactured here and additional ones in a local facility to be built in the client country," he said.

The MicroFalcon system is designed to be activated by one operator, including under extreme weather conditions. Weighing just 6kg (13.2lb), the UAS can operate at an altitude of 15,000ft (4,570m) and remain airborne for 2h by day or night.

With a rugged design using box-type wings, the MicroFalcon can land upside down using a parachute, increasing its survivability and also cutting down on redeployment time by not requiring use of a prepared landing strip.

21-10-11, 12:11 PM
ZALA AERO develops a new VTOL UAS

October 21, 2011

ZALA AERO GROUP has announced today that it plans to launch a new micro VTOL UAS by March 2012. The development is based on the success enjoyed by the current micro VTOL UAS ZALA 421-21 manufactured by ZALA AERO GROUP since being launched in November 2010.

Currently ZALA 421-21 is being used by emergency services and civil agencies, which require a low cost VTOL UAS for a number of tasks. Most common missions include; crowd patrol, aerial photography, firefighting, infrastructure monitoring etc.

The new UAS ZALA 421-22 development looks to address some of specific requirements faced by a number of end users. Most common of requirements is to have both IR and Video camera onboard, ZALA 421-22's payload will incorporate both FLIR IR payload (640x480) and video camera (500 TVL).

Another factor that will be addressed by ZALA 421-22 development is the transportation aspect of the VTOL UAS. Currently VTOL UAS ZALA 421-21 is transported in a handheld container with size 80x80x20cm which holds 3 types of payload, spare parts and battery cells. Even though ZALA 421-22 will be 20% bigger than the original ZAL 421-21 it will be more transportable as the platform can be folded to fit a tube like container with dimensions 100x15x10cm. This unique feature will make the platform compatible with tube launched fixed wing UAS. Majority of engineers and end users agree that up to 10km a small fixed wing UAS is more efficient and productive than a fixed wing UAV as the platform will use up to 80% of flight time on the actual target compared to 30/50% used a fixed wing UAV. While having additional capabilities such as low level hovering, automatic landing to save battery capacity while still providing real time reconnaissance etc.
ZALA 421-22 will based on a eight rotor construction that weighs 2.0kg and carries a payload of 0.5kg. The vehicle is unique as it allows the operator to launch and autonomously hover the UAV even in built-up areas while concentrating on video reconnaissance/surveillance.

Unmanned System ZALA 421-22 is intended to be operated at altitude 10 to 1000m at a distance f up to 10km from the GCS (Ground Control Station). Vehicle will offer up to 40 minutes flight endurance and because of the unique design is extremely quiet in any environment.

UAV transmits real-time video and photo from on board the platform to the hand-held GCS. UAV can offer extended endurance by being able to land autonomously at a set position and continue surveillance in economic mode while still transmitting real-time video.

Payload capacity of ZALA 421-22 allows the operator to have one payload combining video and IR for any type of mission. The UAV is fully autonomous which requires minimal operator input and semi-autonomous mode will be available for use inside buildings. Easy application and transportations are key elements that this platform offers.

ZALA 421-22 will be compatible with other ZALA UAS and is part of ZANET development.

Source: Zala

24-10-11, 03:05 PM
TAI Gets Frost & Sullivan Award for ANKA

Posted on October 24, 2011 by The Editor

Its a very laudable effort but strong rumour has it that its under-powered hence why Turkey has a very urgent Predator requirement................

The 2011 Turkey Frost & Sullivan Product Leadership Award in Aerospace and Defence is presented to Turkish Aerospace Industries Inc. (TAI) for the ANKA. This indigenously developed medium altitude long endurance (MALE) unmanned aircraft has been designed by TAI to meet reconnaissance and surveillance requirements.

“TAI’s culture of technology excellence, its high spend on R&D activities, combined with a strong competitive product strategy in the field of UAVs, have underlined its position as a product leader,” notes Frost & Sullivan Senior Research Analyst Koray Oezkal. “Its effective human resource strategy has also contributed to this technology success story.”

With its 17 m. wing span and 1600 takeoff weight, ANKA is among the highest capacity systems in its class. ANKA carries EO/IR cameras developed by Aselsan and can conduct day and night intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) in all weather conditions.

It is the first indigenous MALE UAV to have successfully penetrated the Turkish defence market, long dominated by Israeli and U.S. systems. In addition, TAI has joined a very limited number of prestigious global companies who are capable of producing MALE UAV systems.

“Compared to most of the major MALE UAVs, ANKA promises to be significantly superior with respect to its improved system backup capabilities, diesel engine and electro expulsive ice protection system (IPS),” remarks Oezkal. “The electro expulsive IPS represents another first — being used for the very first time in the Turkish aerospace and defence industry.”

ANKA’s flexibility allows further technology development, thereby supporting customer value enhancement. Its high payload capacity will also enable integration of SATCOM and SIGINT payloads.

“Considering the fact that some of the major competitors in the market are reaching their final lifespan for further technological development, ANKA’s ability to adapt further demands for reconnaissance and surveillance requirements is an important driver for enhancing customer value,” adds Oezkal.

To meet the strict product quality demands of end-users, ANKA is designed and developed in accordance with international standards such as NATO STANAG 4671 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Systems Airworthiness Requirements (USAR).

ANKA has generated significant interest through TAI’s focused promotion activities at various expos and fairs. Gulf States have shown great interest in the ANKA project, with UAE and Saudi Arabia expected to acquire ANKA UAVs. TAI is well positioned to increase market share starting from 2013 against its competitors from US and Israel.

The Product Leadership Award is awarded to the company excelling in the following criteria: for product features/functionality, for innovative element of the product, for product acceptance in the marketplace, for providing customer value enhancements and for providing product quality.

Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global markets for demonstrating outstanding achievement and superior performance in areas such as leadership, technological innovation, customer service, and strategic product development. Industry analysts compare market participants and measure performance through in-depth interviews, analysis, and extensive secondary research in order to identify best practices in the industry.

Source: Press Release

24-10-11, 04:51 PM
Are Drones Creating a New Global Arms Race? (excerpt)

(Source: Spiegel Online; published Oct. 23, 2011)

They are difficult to detect, deadly and cheap to build. Despite the dubious legality of assassinating suspected terrorists and Taliban without a trial, the market for drones is heating up around the world. With Israel and China moving into the market, are we about to see a new arms race?

Plastic tanks and miniature models of fighter jets are on display in Steven Zaloga's home office, and his bookshelves are overflowing with volumes about the history of war. War is Zaloga's area of expertise, but even more than that, it's his business. For 36 years, the historian has analyzed global trends in weapons. He currently works for the Teal Group, a renowned defense consulting firm in Fairfax, Virginia, a suburb of Washington.

Zaloga knows exactly how and where war can be profitable at any given point. And when he discusses which weapons have the best business prospects, he doesn't spare a glance for his models of tanks and fighter jets. Those weapons belong in history books.

The future belongs to drones, remote-controlled unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) equipped with sensitive reconnaissance electronics and powerful precision weapons. Drones provide the kind of weapons system strategists have always wished for: They allow a military force to exert power while minimizing its own risks, and to carry out precise, deadly strikes, without sending its own soldiers into danger.

The additional fact that drones are comparatively cheap has made them a favorite with the United States, which has used drone strikes to execute over 2,300 people. Most of these attacks have been carried out as part of the hunt for Taliban members hiding in Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan, and those killed include American-born al-Qaida associate Anwar al-Awlaki, who was executed by one of the remote-controlled weapons without first having been convicted by a court.

A $94 Billion Market?

Zaloga points to a table showing Pentagon budget figures. In 2002, the US military spent around $550 million (€400 million) on drones. In 2011, the figure was nearly $5 billion.

Demand is growing around the world as well. "The Middle East will become an important market for drones," Zaloga believes. "Oman, Saudi Arabia, Egypt. And then Asia, of course: Malaysia, India, Australia. And Europe: Turkey, Italy, Poland, for example."

The analyst estimates global drone sales in the coming decade at $94 billion. Should it so choose, the US has a potential major export success on its hands. The only technological item possibly more popular is the iPhone. A new global "drone arms race" is coming, the New York Times wrote.

So far, the US has limited exports of the futuristic technology in order to prevent any compromising of its own head start. The State Department oversees exports and the sale of armed drones is generally not permitted, with just a few exceptions for very close allies. But the technology "can't easily be contained," says consultant David Deptula, who until recently served as the Air Force general in charge of the drone program.

Less Complicated than Wrangling with Guantanamo

The US is carrying out drone strikes ever more frequently. Vice President Joe Biden, especially, has been an effective advocate for the weapons. It was Biden who urged his boss to end the war in Afghanistan and instead to combat the Taliban with drone strikes on their hideouts in Pakistan. Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama now sends out a missile-equipped drone an average of once every four days, while his predecessor, George W. Bush, did so only once every 47 days. Obama, it seems, has taken a liking to remote-controlled war, which delivers faster results and is less complicated than wrangling with Guantanamo.

The American fleet now stands at 230 drones. The Air Force trains more pilots for drone operations than for fighter jets, and last month acknowledged the existence of previously classified drone bases in Ethiopia, the Seychelles and Djibouti.

American manufacturers such as Northrop Grumman and General Atomics would like to start marketing their products to the rest of the world, and their representatives serve as cheerleaders urging more and more new drones. "Countries have an insatiable appetite for drones," James Pitts, from defense contracting giant Northrop, told the Financial Times. Northrop representatives recently visited Japan, bringing along a 1:1 model of the enormous "Global Hawk" drone. The same drone, under the name " Euro Hawk" will soon be stationed with the Bundeswehr, Germany's Armed Forces, at its air base in Jagel in northern Germany.

A United Nations report lists over 40 countries that have bought remote-controlled aircraft, although most of these are used for aerial reconnaissance, the original purpose for which drones were designed. So far the only countries to carry out drone strikes, besides the US, are Israel and Great Britain.

This could change quickly, and interested buyers can select from an ever-increasing range of products. The American classic at the moment is still the "Predator," a drone proven in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan, capable of staying aloft for up to 36 hours and attacking its targets with "Hellfire" precision missiles.

But the Predator is on its way out and American arms manufacturers are at work on its successor, a model capable of carrying significantly more missiles, to be known as the "Avenger." The "Reaper," another attack drone, is also an enhanced version of the Predator.

Along with the attack drones, the US produces sophisticated surveillance drones such as the enormous "RQ-170-Sentinel," also known as the "Beast of Kandahar." This model was used prior to Osama Bin Laden's execution for surveillance of his hideout, from high elevations and undetected by any radar system.

Israel Has Largest Number of Drones in Sky [Really? I'd have thought the USA outstrips by a significant factor?]

The US isn't the only country that will profit from the boom in drones. One of the most experienced manufacturers of the technology is Israel.

"Smile when you look up at the sky," says Avi Bleser. "There's always someone watching." Bleser is director of marketing and sales at Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), a company already hard at work supplying the world's drones. IAI's biggest client is Israel itself, a country with more drones in its skies than any other in the world. No other company has sold as many drones as IAI, and Israel is the world's second largest exporter of drones, after the US. While other armies are just beginning to experiment with remote-controlled aircraft, the Israeli Air Force recently celebrated the 40-year anniversary of its first drones.

IAI runs a veritable city on the edge of Tel Aviv's airport, outfitted with workshops, hangars, runways and a total of 17,000 employees. The company offers an entire range of UAVs, from micro-drones such as the "Mosquito," which weighs just 250 grams (nine ounces), to the "Bird-Eye," which two soldiers could carry in a backpack, to the "Panther," transported by tanks and capable of flying up to 60 kilometers (37 miles) behind enemy lines and transmitting live images. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Spiegel Online website



25-10-11, 05:23 PM
IAI outlines progress with Panther tiltrotor UAS

By: Arie Egozi Tel Aviv

48 minutes ago


Israel Aerospace Industries' (IAI) Panther tiltrotor unmanned air system is performing automatic take-off and landing tests, and in early 2012 will demonstrate its capabilities to potential customers.

An IAI source said the company's development team has managed to solve problems with the transition between hovering and normal flight, and that "the prototypes have so far accumulated hundreds of flight hours".

© Israel Aerospace Industries

The Panther uses an innovative automatic flight control system that controls the transition between the hovering take-off phase to forward flight - and vice versa - before landing. The aircraft takes off and lands automatically upon receiving a command the operator console, eliminating the need for an external pilot.

With a maximum take-off weight of 65kg (143lb) and an endurance of 6h, the Panther is powered by three ultra-quiet electric motors.

IAI sources added that progress to date with the Panther has helped during the development of a reduced-scale version. The Mini Panther weighs 12kg and has an endurance of 2h.

IAI meanwhile is co-operating with companies in the development of more reliable fuel cells, which will increase the flight time of both versions.

26-10-11, 12:57 PM
Northrop Grumman Adapts STARLite Small Tactical Radar to Fixed Location Protection

Posted on October 26, 2011 by The Editor

Uploaded by northropgrummanmedia on Sep 8, 2010
The AN/ZPY-1 STARLite is a small, lightweight SAR/GMTI radar used for supporting tactical operations. STARLite is now under contract to the U.S. Army Communications and Electronics Command. STARLite offers superior performance at low cost.

Northrop Grumman Corporation has successfully demonstrated advanced sensor and network technologies for the protection of fixed locations, adapting the STARLite Small Tactical Radar developed for UAS.

Over five days of integration and testing, Northrop Grumman and its teammates fused data from more than 10 systems to form a common operational picture. Among the systems tested in realistic scenarios were SCORPION II Unattended Target Recognition Systems, the AN/ZPY-1 STARLite Tactical Radar-Lightweight, the Smart Integrated Vehicle Network (SiVAN) and FLIR’s Star Safire HD. Each sensor was directly connected to the others through a wireless mesh network, enabling information sharing and the handoff of targets from one sensor to another. Northrop Grumman’s Rotorcraft Avionics Innovation Laboratory (RAIL) performed the rapid integrations.

As part of the exercise, Northrop Grumman demonstrated STARLite’s multiple scanning modes from a fixed tower. These modes allow the radar to track individuals and moving vehicles. STARLite also cued other non-collocated sensors during the testing.

“At Camp Roberts, we reaffirmed that STARLite gives warfighters the edge in situational awareness with its ability to track a wide range of threats,” said John Jadik, Northrop Grumman’s vice president of weapons and sensors for the Land and Self Protection Systems Division. “By sharing this data over the network and cueing other sensors, STARLite increases mission effectiveness and serves as a key component in base protection.”

Northrop Grumman’s STARLite Small Tactical Radar — Lightweight is the U.S. Army program of record for the MQ-1C Gray Eagle Unmanned Aircraft System, and has also been demonstrated on the Army’s Persistent Threat Detection Systems aerostat. Each STARLite radar comes equipped with a complete software package for interfacing with U.S. Army systems, enabling easy operator control of the SAR maps and ground moving target detection features on standard Army maps. The AN/ZPY-1 leverages Northrop Grumman’s experience acquired from the company’s proven Tactical Endurance Synthetic Aperture Radar and the Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Radar programs.

“Our demonstrations showed that we can make data from virtually any sensor available to the warfighter,” said Kay Burch, vice president of communications, intelligence & networking solutions for Northrop Grumman’s Land and Self Protection Systems Division. “Mission success depends on accurate information that enables a rapid response. With this level of integration, we can deliver a complete picture of the battle space and shorten the timeline from threat identification to action.”

Source: Press Release

26-10-11, 01:01 PM
L-3 Upgrades Viking

Posted on October 26, 2011 by The Editor

MX-10 Sensor Turret on Viking 400 Photo: L-3 Unmanned Systems

L-3 Unmanned Systems of Dallas has completed a series of capability enhancements to its Viking 400 unmanned aircraft system supplied to the US Special Operations Command under a 2009 contract.

Added under the Block 1A upgrade are a new electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor turret and digital datalink.

The MX-10 turret is the newest EO/IR sensor package in the MX series of turrets produced by L-3 Wescam of Burlington, Ontario. The 10-inch-diameter gimbaled enclosure contains a high-resolution IR imager, color EO sensor, laser rangefinder and dual divergence laser illuminator. The turret includes a built-in precision GPS navigation system and multi-mode automatic video tracker.

The company said it has successfully tested an advanced, secure digital datalink system produced by L-3 Communications Systems-West, of Salt Lake City, in conjunction with the upgrade.

L-3 in October 2009 announced a contract valued at $250 million over five years to provide the Viking 400 for Socom’s Expeditionary UAS programme. With a maximum gross takeoff weight of 540 pounds, Viking is the mid-tier system of three UAS the company introduced that year, including the tube-launched Cutlass small expendable vehicle and Mobius medium-altitude, long-endurance, optionally piloted aircraft.

The composite-construction Viking 400 is integrated with an L-3 Unmanned Systems’ FlightTEK autonomous takeoff and landing system. Missions are flown using GPS waypoints, which can be reassigned during flight, the company says. The operational and line-of-sight datalink range of the platform is up to 70 miles, with endurance of eight to 12 hours depending on payload weight. L-3 declined comment on the Expeditionary UAS programme beyond the upgrade release.

Source: Press Release

26-10-11, 01:03 PM
France Still to Sign Up to NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) System

Posted on October 26, 2011 by The Editor

Northrop Grumman believes that the contract award for the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) system is now on track to be completed in early November.Negotiations for six Northrop RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft systems have dragged on for a year past the original deadline of October 2010. Meanwhile, the partnership has been disrupted by defections, with Poland, Denmark and Canada each announcing their withdrawal from the programme.

Each time a member withdraws, the remaining partners must contribute more funding but those issues have been overcome in the negotiations, Northrop said. Poland has also reportedly expressed interest in rejoining the AGS programme, Northrop added.

The final negotiations are focused on resolving issues with extending the intelligence information gathered by the AGS product to France, a member of the NATO partnership buying the RQ-4 Block 40s, Northrop said.

The AGS programme has been in development for nearly two decades. NATO originally considered a proposal by Northrop in the early 1990s to operate the Boeing 707-based E-8C joint surveillance target attack radar system. That concept evolved into a mixed fleet, including a manned Airbus A321 and unmanned RQ-4s. The last strategy was dropped to a fleet of eight RQ-4s, reduced to six after Northrop submitted its costs last year.

The AGS system function is to introduce the capability for NATO to detect moving targets on the ground at long range using radar. The RQ-4 Block 40 is equipped with the Northrop/Raytheon multi-platform radar technology insertion programme sensor.

Source: Flight Global

27-10-11, 03:05 PM
Special Ops’ Latest Drone: A Russian Doll of Death

By Katie Drummond October 27, 2011 | 6:30 am

Come spring, there’ll be a new drone in the Special Ops arsenal of annihilation. Call it … the Robotic Russian Doll of Death.

Researchers from Naval Air Systems Command, Eglin Air Force Base, and engineering company Navmar Applied Science Corporation are already toiling away at the drone’s design, InsideDefense.com is reporting.

And it’s wild: essentially one deadly drone shoved inside a bigger, more benign one. The petite, 13-foot Tigershark drone, already used for surveillance and reconnaissance, will be outfitted with an even smaller drone — developed by Air Force researchers under the Precision Acquisition and Weaponized System program — that doubles as a warhead. The baby drone would detach from its Tigershark mother and relay real-time video to ground support as it was directed toward a target and then detonated on impact.

It’s an idea that U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has been interested in pursuing for years. In 2007, SOCOM’s Col. Jim Geurts expressed an urgent need for smaller, more targeted weaponry, so that “the guy in the truck evaporates and the two trucks next to him don’t get blown out and the windows in the house don’t get blown out.”

But now, it finally seems for real. A $12 million design and assembly effort is supposed to be done in the Spring of 2012. After that comes testing at Eglin and at the Army Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. Then, if all goes well: Afghanistan.

Executives at Navmar, however, claim they don’t know a thing about their drone-within-a-drone’s potential deployment.

“I don’t know where you got that information; you know more than I’m allowed to tell you,” company president Tom Flenery told Danger Room when we reached out for more information. “We’re not involved in that — we just sell them the planes.”

Several military branches and drone companies are working on teeny-tiny robotic killers. The Acturus drone, which is the aerial equivalent of a compact car and carries a 10-pound missile, is currently undergoing military tests, and earlier this year the Army doled out $4.9 million for “rapid fielding” of AeroVironment’s Switchblade suicide drone, essentially a tiny flying robot with a death wish.

The logic behind these teenier missiles and self-detonating drones (sometimes inside bigger drones!) is simple: A smaller boom and a more targeted explosion — right through the car windshield, for example — keeps unnecessary damage to a minimum.

“Because of the small size of the warhead, it would have pinpoint precision for the target,” Chyau Shen, a Navy program manager for surveillance systems, said. “And would not cause harm to neutrals or civilians near the target.”

Sounds like a worthy goal. But Navmar was not exactly keen to discuss their mini-missile combo. When Danger Room reached out to the firm via e-mail, company execs suggested — via ongoing reply-all fail — that they were intent on avoiding any collateral damage of their own.

“Where did this come from?” Anthony Madera, Navmar’s VP of engineering, wrote in an e-mail. “I don’t think it’s smart to get too much visibility. Do we want undesirable sources targeting us?”

Not that Danger Room keeps our own cache of Russian Doll Death Drones, of course.

Photo: Navmar; modified by Arikia Millikan

27-10-11, 03:31 PM
Japan’s Unmanned Flying Ball – Official Launch

Posted on October 27, 2011 by The Editor

Uploaded by Diginfonews on Oct 23, 2011
DigInfo TV - http://diginfo.tv

VERY interesting machine.................:thumbsup

We first came across the ‘Unmanned Flying Ball from Japan” earlier this year in June. Now the Japanese Ministry of Defence Research Department has made an official launch at the Digital Content Expo in Tokyo last week.

Fumiyuki Sato, Technical Official at TRDI, Ministry of Defence presented the machine to a crowded room. He demonstrated how it can stand still in mid-air and fly vertically and horizontally through narrow spaces. The ball is 42 centimetres in diameter, weighs 350 grams, can hover for 8 minutes and reach a maximum speed of 60 km/h. It has three gyro sensors on board, so it can regain stability if it strikes an obstacle. Assembled from COTS parts, the total cost of parts is $1,400.

Here is a transcript of Sato’s presentation:

“Because the exterior is round, this machine can land in all kinds of attitudes, and move along the ground. It can also keep in contact with a wall while flying. Because it’s round, it can just roll along the ground, but to move it in the desired direction, we’ve brought the control surfaces, which are at the rear in an ordinary airplane, to the front.”

“In horizontal flight, the propeller provides the propulsive force, while the wings provide lift. For the machine to take off or land in that state, it faces upward. When it does so, the propeller provides buoyancy. At that time, too, the control surfaces provide attitude control. After landing, the machine moves along the ground using the control surfaces and propeller.”

“In our aircraft R&D, we have a plane that can stand up vertically after flying horizontally. But the problem with that plane is, take-off and landing are very difficult. As one idea to solve that problem, we thought of making the exterior round, or changing the method of attitude control. That’s how we came up with this machine, to test the idea.”

“All we’ve done is build this from commercially available parts, and test whether it can fly in its round form. So its performance as such has absolutely no significance. But we think it can hover for eight minutes continuously, and its speed can go from zero, when it’s hovering, to 60 km/h.”

The Japanese Defence Ministry envisions using the machine as a search and rescue tool and as an intelligence and reconnaissance drone.

Source: DigInfo TV

27-10-11, 03:35 PM
AAI Delivers Aerosonde and Orbiter to US Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center

Posted on October 27, 2011 by The Editor


AAI Unmanned Aircraft Systems announced yesterday that it has delivered an Aerosonde Mark 4.7 Small Unmanned Aircraft System and an Orbiter Miniature Unmanned Aircraft System to the US Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC).

The systems will support the five-year cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) into which the organizations recently entered, enabling AAI UAS and CERDEC to work together on various payloads for three classes of UAS — tactical, small and miniature, also known as Groups 3, 2 and 1.

AAI UAS and CERDEC’s Flight Activity, Lakehurst, N.J., completed a technical interchange meeting to review plans for payload integration onto the Aerosonde (Group 2) and Orbiter (Group 1) systems. Many payload varieties are being considered for integration, including signals intelligence, sensor and communications. AAI’s UAS flight crews conducted Aerosonde and Orbiter aircraft check flights prior to their delivery at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.

Aerosonde Mark 4.7

Upon CERDEC Flight Activity’s successful payload integration onto either aircraft, AAI UAS operators will take the lead on a capability demonstration flight. To date, AAI UAS already has integrated more than two dozen payloads onto the Aerosonde UAS, including scientific, meteorological, electronic warfare, signals intelligence and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

“Our experienced UAS operators understand both the aircraft and the unique characteristics of the mission based on each payload,” says AAI UAS Vice President, Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Stephen Flach. “In research and development exercises like this one, the result is reliable, comprehensive performance data to improve the user’s end product.”

The Aerosonde Mark 4.7 is an expeditionary system featuring a large payload capacity and modular design. It is ideally suited to accommodate a multitude of payload options. The Orbiter Miniature Unmanned Aircraft System uses electric power to deliver a minimal acoustic signature. It is being offered to various military and law enforcement customers through a teaming agreement between AAI and Israel-based Aeronautics Ltd. In addition, AAI’s renowned Shadow Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System, a Group 3-sized aircraft, is available to CERDEC through this CRADA. Together, the three classes of UAS can accommodate a large spectrum of mission profiles.

Source: Press Release

27-10-11, 03:37 PM
Finland UAS Evaluation – Then There Were Two…

Posted on October 27, 2011 by The Editor


The two Israeli companies still contesting the Finnish armed forces’ competition to select an unmanned aircraft system face two more rounds of evaluation.

One will be held in Finland and the other in Israel within the coming weeks.

Finnish evaluators will use the phase in Israel to learn about the manufacturing capabilities of the finalists: Aeronautics Defense Systems and BlueBird.

BlueBird SpyLite

The companies are offering their respective Orbiter 2 and SpyLite designs to meet Finland’s surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance systems requirement. Sources said on 25 October a final selection is expected during November, with a contract signing to occur after the Finland presidential elections, scheduled for January 2012.

Finland’s defence ministry plans to acquire between 30 and 45 of the selected unmanned system under a programme valued at about $25 million.

Source: Flight Global

28-10-11, 03:06 AM

A Defense Technology Blog

Turkey Begins ANKA Envelope Expansion

Posted by Robert Wall at 10/27/2011 11:52 AM CDT

The first Turkish-built medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft is now in flight testing.

Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) says it has already logged five flights, with the fifth one taking place on Oct. 22. It also marks the start of envelope expansion, the manufacturer says.

The ANKA has already reached an altitude of 10,000 ft.

Still ahead is validating the automatic takeoff-and-landing system.

(Photo: TAI)

Turkey has big UAV ambitions, and has indicated it may join Germany if the Talarion unmanned aircraft program ever gets off the ground.

Domestic efforts also are gaining in importance because Turkey has previously acquired Israeli systems, but Ankara no longer courts a strong relationship with Tel Aviv.

28-10-11, 03:10 AM

A Defense Technology Blog

Boeing's Unmanned Little Bird Heads to Sea in 2012

Posted by Robert Wall at 10/27/2011 12:05 PM CDT

The Unmanned Little Bird will undertake at-sea landing trials next year as part of a French development activity.

DCNS and Thales say they have secured a follow-on contract from the French armaments agency (DGA) to continue working on the automatic deck landing system they are validating using the Boeing UAV.

The at-sea trials will use a French frigate. They will be conducted in low-visibility — something that shouldn't be too much of an issue for an unmanned system — and in high sea states.

(Photo: Thales/DCNS)

The work follows trials in the U.S. during the summer.

DCNS is modifying its helicopter landing technology for the unmanned system. It also is working on the deck-motion prediction system and the harpoon that will secure the aircraft. Thales' work includes the positioning system.

France is still assessing how to meet its future tactical unmanned aircraft needs. At one point it explored whether the navy's SDAM program and the army's SDT could be combined into one system.

28-10-11, 03:14 AM

A Defense Technology Blog

Northrop's New X-47B UCAS-D Video

Posted by Graham Warwick at 10/27/2011 1:31 PM CDT

I recommend you turn the sound down before watching Northrop Grumman's latest video from X-47B UCAS-D flight tests at Edwards AFB, if you want to avoid being deafened by an overwrought soundtrack. But the video is cool, showing the US Navy's tailless flying-wing unmanned combat aircraft demonstrator making its first gear-up flight, on September 30.

Video: Northrop Grumman

Uploaded by northropgrummanmedia on Oct 27, 2011
Musical revue of the first "cruise" flight of the U.S. Navy's X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstration aircraft. During this flight, conducted Sept. 30, 2011 flight, the aircraft's landing gear was raised and lowered for the first time, a key milestone in the envelope expansion phase of flight testing. The X-47B was designed, developed and produced by Northrop Grumman, the leader in unmanned systems.

The second of the two demonstrators, AV-2, should be about ready to make its first flight from Edwards, and AV-1 is scheduled to be shipped eastwards to NAS Patuxent River by year-end, to begin the work-up to carrier-based trials in 2013.

28-10-11, 01:14 PM
General Atomics Triclops Showcased Enhanced Situational Awareness During MUSIC

Posted on October 28, 2011 by The Editor

Gray Eagle with Triclops Sensor Suite - Photo: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems

At the Army’s Manned-Unmanned Systems Integration Capability (MUSIC) exercise held September 16 at Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Gray Eagle UAS utilised a Triclops sensor suite to showcase an enhanced situational awareness capability.

Consisting of three Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR) sensors, the Triclops system was controlled simultaneously from three geographically dispersed and distinct types of Ground Control Stations (GCS), which in turn independently tracked three separate targets. While the primary Raytheon AN/AAS-53 Common Sensor Payload (CSP) under the nose was operated via a Ku-Band tactical common data link from AAI’s Universal GCS, two Raytheon DAS-2 sensors under the wings were operated separately by soldiers on the ground using a bidirectional One System Remote Video Terminal (OSRVT) and Aerovironment’s Mini-Universal GCS designed for use with Raven and Puma small UAS.

“MUSIC displayed what talented companies can accomplish to support the warfighter when we work closely together,” said Frank Pace, president, Aircraft Systems Group, GA-ASI. “We were pleased to showcase our new ‘Triclops’ capability at this great event.”

Source: Press Release

28-10-11, 01:15 PM
Colmek Gets Rugged Computer Order from Turkey’s Vestel

Posted on October 28, 2011 by The Editor

Vestel EFE

Colmek has announced a contract award from Turkish contractor Vestel Savunma Sanyani A.S.Rugged computer systems will be installed on the company’s Tactical UAV Project, and utilize innovative design characteristics formulated by the Colmek engineering team. The resulting hardware solution allows for the production of a lightweight, compact design, while adhering to price sensitivity. The Tactical UAV systems will perform reconnaissance, surveillance and intelligence for Turkish Armed Forces. Colmek’s contract will reach into December 2012.

Colmek was selected after months of technical discussion and review of the desired specifications and requirements. The resulting system, optimally designed to address space and weight, will perform within constrained airborne deployments where reliable high performance computing is required. The system is designed to meet MIL-STD conditions and utilizes a custom Colmek 28VDC avionics power supply.

Having a long-history of assisting defence prime contractors, Colmek began this effort with their typical custom services approach, eventually providing Vestel a test module to validate the concept and communicate all engineering changes during this test period. Emphasis was placed on optimizing the computers capability to synthesize multiple layers of real-time graphical data. The system will carry out key processing tasks and operate for extended mission periods as required.

Source: Press Release

28-10-11, 01:17 PM
Texas A&M University Completes First RS 16 Flights over Gulf Waters

Posted on October 28, 2011 by The Editor

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi announced that the first airborne science missions using unmanned aircraft over the Gulf of Mexico were successfully completed during the week of October 10-17.

Scientists with the Unmanned Aerial Systems Initiative at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and representatives from American Aerospace Airborne Systems Group completed six flights of the RS-16 Unmanned aircraft system that originated on a remote stretch of beach on the Padre Island National Seashore. The RS-16 System utilizes 13-foot wingspan unmanned aircraft that can stay aloft for up to 12 to 16 hours on less than two gallons of gasoline.

“The UAS capability directly benefits the program in geospatial computing and will significantly advance the University’s competitiveness for federally-funded research,” said Dr.

Stacey Lyle, director of the UAS initiative. “In addition, this capability enables the University to serve as a leader in UAS technology training and education at both the state and national levels.”

Linked to the RS-16 Mobile Command Center, the system produces and disseminates real-time streaming video on map, infrared video, and high resolution imagery. It also accommodates a variety of science payloads and can relay communications between widely dispersed ground radios. Practical UAS applications include wildlife inventory, border security, hurricane research and monitoring, detection and tracking of harmful algae blooms, and situational awareness for incident response.

“The Unmanned Systems Initiative is an example of our commitments to support sustainable growth of the coastal communities, to enlarge the research enterprise, and to enhance the students’ learning experience,” said Dr. L.D. Chen, director of the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences. “These capabilities directly benefit our research endeavors by providing students, faculty, and staff with excellent opportunities to pursue interdisciplinary research in the Gulf Coast region.”

In July, the Unmanned Aerial Systems Initiative at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi received a Federal Aviation Administration Certification Authorization to fly Tier II unmanned aircraft like the RS-16 into national air space. The air space, which encompasses approximately 500 square miles, reaches several miles into the Gulf of Mexico and covers 39 miles of the Padre Island National Seashore and a substantial portion of the Laguna Madre intracoastal waterway.

Source: Avionics Intelligence

29-10-11, 03:16 AM
US Air Force Micro Air Vehicles Test Lab

Uploaded by MilitaryNewsNetwork on Oct 27, 2011

Information about the Air Force Research Laboratory's micro-air vehicle test laboratory where miniature drones shaped like birds and insects are tested for military applications such as surveillance.

31-10-11, 03:44 PM
AeroVironment Introduces Qube – the Public Safety Small UAS

Posted on October 31, 2011 by The Editor

AeroVironment, Inc. has introduced the Qube , and in doing so, created a new category, the Public Safety Small UAS, for applications such as law enforcement and first response. Small enough to fit easily in the trunk of a car, the Qube system can be unpacked, assembled and ready for flight in less than five minutes, giving the operator a rapidly deployable eye in the sky at a fraction of the cost of manned aircraft.

“Public safety professionals have been asking for this capability for years,” said Tom Herring, AeroVironment senior vice president and general manager of Unmanned Aircraft Systems. “They have learned about the effectiveness of our Raven, Wasp and Puma UAS over the battlefield and want a similar capability that is tailored to their mission requirements. The Qube system targets their needs and will provide a portable aerial vantage point to help public safety workers perform their duties more safely and effectively.”

The Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) air vehicle can hover for 40 minutes – twice the endurance of similar unmanned aircraft. Equipped with dual color and thermal video cameras, the aircraft can transmit live video directly to the operator to assist with threat assessment, situational awareness, search and rescue, perimeter security and a variety of other missions.

To demonstrate the Qube system’s unique capabilities, AeroVironment is introducing a trial and evaluation programme for public safety agencies. Interested agencies can learn more about this programme by completing a request for information form at www.avinc.com/qube.

Source: Press Release

31-10-11, 06:43 PM
Talarion: Responding to an Urgent Need for ISTAR Capabilities

Talarion is a new UAS programme led by Cassidian.

Interview with Bernhard Gerwert, Chief Operating Officer, Cassidian

08:16 GMT, October 31, 2011 Talarion is the new European unmanned air system (UAS) programme to fulfil the operational requirements of Germany, France and Spain for future Intelligence, Surveillance and Target Acquisition (ISTAR) missions. Mr Bernhard Gerwert, Chief Operating Officer of Cassidian recently outlined the Talarion programme, industrial participation and negotiations with Turkey in details in an interview with the Defence Turkey Magazine. The interview is reproduced below with courtesy of Defence Turkey (DT).

DT: Could you describe the new Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) programme called Talarion?

Bernhard Gerwert: Talarion is a new UAS programme led by Cassidian and its industrial partners to fulfil the operational requirements of several countries in Europe and on the export markets for Intelligence, Surveillance and Target Acquisition (ISTAR) missions both for military, security and civilian applications. Thanks to its specific design Talarion is able to operate over its broad flight envelope spectrum, thereby establishing persistent surveillance, precise adversary identification, localisation and real-time intelligence.

Main design drivers for Talarion are the requirements to get a full certification, allowing flying in non-segregated airspace, operational superiority providing large coverage at long distances, mission modularity adaptable to the operational scenarios and autonomy.

Talarion is based on a modular payload concept, thereby providing the possibility to extend the system’s capability in many directions. The internal payload and sensor integration guarantees Talarion’s operational readiness for simultaneous ground and maritime surveillance missions. The fuselage diameter allows the installation of a large SATCOM to cope with the high data rate demand and a retractable electro-optical infra-red laser designator turret to improve flight performance. Finally, being a European development, Talarion provides all rights and possibilities for today’s unlimited operational use and secures flexibility for future enhancements to always provide operational capabilities according to the needs of our customers.

DT: What about the timeline of the Talarion programme?

Gerwert: In 2007, France, Germany and Spain shared their operational requirements for an Unmanned Aerial System such as Talarion. In 2009, Cassidian and partners reduced the risk of the programme with appropriate technical demonstrations and simulations. The Risk Reduction Study has been concluded with a proposal covering the development and production of 15 systems. Since one system comprises 3 air vehicles each, there is a total interest for 45 air vehicles. Due to our continuous efforts we will be able to deliver a prototype in 2015 and first delivery in 2017.

Let me also point out that we invested already more than €500 million in the development of all our UAS over the recent years. This investment underlines our commitment to be Europe’s leading UAS provider. We have proven our technological capabilities many times, for instance with the successful operations of the Harfang by the French Air Force simultaneously in Afghanistan and over Libya, a series of successful flight test campaigns of its Barracuda technology demonstrator in Canada, the development of the ATLANTE tactical system, the first flight of our VTOL UAS in France and our contributions to the EuroHawk programme which will be operated by the German Air Force.

DT: Could you provide details about the industrial issues of this UAS programme?

Gerwert: Cassidian has all the development know-how and manufacturing skills for UAS based on the experiences of the different programmes in Germany, France and Spain. Initially, we started Talarion as a tri-national programme; however, the recent industrial partnership with Turkey demonstrates the appeal of such a programme.

Talarion would secure and create more than 10,000 jobs in the high technology aerospace and defence industry in Europe. And finally, being the next generation UAS to fly in civil airspace, Talarion would create significant export opportunities for the aerospace industry. All these facts demonstrate that this unique capitalisation of operational and industrial experience build up around the Talarion programme has good chances of continued progress. In any case, it would strongly position the involved nations in the strategic competence sector of UAS embedded in European cooperation.

DT: During IDEF 2011, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) signed a MoU with Cassidian to establish close collaboration on the Talarion programme for the next-generation UAS. How do you assess that cooperation and what are your plans to establish cooperation with other Turkish companies?

Gerwert: With TAI entering the core development programme for Talarion, Turkey is definitely anchored in the European aerospace industry, including the opportunities to participate in other major programmes. Furthermore, the strong involvement of the Turkish defence industry in the development and production sector will clearly generate huge increases in terms of expertise and jobs. It marks the start of a new level of international cooperation on UAS projects, a situation we particularly welcome and appreciate, and which may lead to further cooperation depending on our respective needs and capabilities.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in June 2011 between five major defense industrial players to boost international cooperation. This agreement involving among others Cassidian and TUSAS-Türk Havacilik ve Uzay Sanayii A.S. (Turkish Aerospace Industries, Inc.) was signed during an official ceremony at the Le Bourget International Air Show 2011. This agreement boosts the exploration of potential collaborative opportunities, a combination of complementary skills and experience to a mutual benefit, including shared and common works with regard to programmes such as Talarion, Aerial Target Drones and VTOL UAV. This five-nation-group (Turkey, Germany, France, Spain, United Kingdom) has a wide range of experience and competencies in the specific field of aerospace and have mutually agreed to further explore and develop collaboration. This agreement followed a previous MoU signed during IDEF 2011 for the Talarion cooperation between Cassidian and Turkish Aerospace Industries, (TAI), demonstrating their commitment for a wider international collaboration in the defence industry.

DT: What are your expectations for the future of Talarion?

Gerwert: There is an urgent need for ISTAR capabilities and the assessment of crisis situations in the European Armed Forces which will enable rapid political decision-making of its governments. Our flexibility remains the determining key factor for the success of the Talarion programme and we are absolutely committed to realise every possible effort to satisfy the expectations of our customers. Therefore, I expect the involved nations to decide for Talarion as their future ISTAR system soon.

31-10-11, 07:06 PM
Thales and DCNS move forward with D2AD

31 October 2011 - 14:54 by the Shephard News Team

Thales and DCNS have announced the launch of a supplementary phase for the Technology Demonstration of a system for automatic landing and deck-landing of UAVs (D2AD), which has just been notified by the French Defence Procurement Authority (DGA). According to a Thales press release, sea trials of the demonstrator are now planned for 2012 using a French Navy frigate and a Boeing, H-6U Unmanned Little Bird rotorcraft.

The testing constitutes an important step in the future use of UAV rotorcraft by maritime operators, and the development of high-performance solutions to meet the needs of this market. Thales said, ‘The availability of an automatic on-board take-off and landing system, without the need for an external pilot, opens up the possibility of intensive use of UAV rotorcraft, at minimum cost and a high level of safety.’

Successful landing and deck-landing trials were conducted on a moving platform in the US during 2010. This latest design study will be conducted ‘in the context of risk reduction for future tactical UAV programmes to be managed by the DGA on behalf of the French Navy and the French Army’, according to Thales.

Thales said the next trials will be aimed at demonstrating the automatic deck-landing of a UAV on the deck of a frigate even in high sea state and low visibility, and that ‘the system must demonstrate its capability for integration of all the operational constraints inherent in deck take-offs and landings, similar to those of piloted helicopters, but in fully automatic mode’.

The statement issued by Thales said, ‘this automatic system for take-off, landing and deck-landing of UAVs is the fruit of the joint expertise of Thales and DCNS. Thales is responsible for the positioning system and its interface with the UAV system, the supply of a UAV demonstrator system and slaving of the flight path along a trajectory. DCNS is responsible for predicting the vessel motions, the harpoon system as well as the interface and integration with the vessel.’

01-11-11, 12:59 AM
S. Korea Pursues Stealth Drone Demonstrator

Oct 31, 2011

By Bradley Perrett

When you have a mountain to climb, it makes sense to get an early start. With that in mind, South Korea is moving rapidly into the demonstrator phase for a stealthy combat drone that it does not expect to field until late in the next decade.

Probably deciding that they would have trouble leaping into such an advanced field of combat aircraft development, the defense ministry’s designers have chosen a configuration much like those of proposed Western aircraft. Yet it is worth bearing in mind that Western countries such as the U.S., Britain and France are, like South Korea, still studying such aircraft, with varying degrees of seriousness. So the Northeast Asian country, with an aerospace sector that has never built a manned combat aircraft, is already seeking to enter into the first rank in the unmanned field. And it is doing this while separately pursuing a program for a stealthy manned fighter called KF-X.

Or, more accurately, the project is being pursued by the defense ministry—more specifically by its ambitious Agency for Defense Development, for decades the home of much of the country’s most advanced talent in aerospace technology. Both the KF-X and the combat drone program are at a stage at which design engineers are laying the groundwork, knowing that the military could use their proposed product and hoping that parliament will pay for full-scale development.

Korean Air Aerospace has won a contract to build a combat drone demonstrator and should begin flight testing in 2013. The air force, meanwhile, plans on the follow-on production aircraft serving as its premier combat aircraft by the end of the next decade. Under that scheme, the KF-X would be the second-tier fighter.

Scant specifications that the company issued at the Seoul International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition described the demonstrator, with a span of 4.5 meters and length of 3.5 meters (14.8 X 11.5 ft.). The accompanying large-scale model of the aircraft, the KUS-X, showed a highly swept wing blending into the body, which features an inlet above and behind the nose, and shielded by it. It is likely that the full-scale production aircraft, if built, will follow much the same design.

The manufacturer, a division of the airline Korean Air, has been working on the project since 2009, say company executives. The Agency for Defense Development largely designed the aircraft but kept out of sight at the exhibition.

Although Korean Air officials, citing security rules, declined to give details of the design, important features were readily evident from the model. These included two weapon bays inboard of the main gear, inside the body, not the wing, and well aft. The inlet duct evidently curves down to an engine mounted low in the deep body section. The space above the duct would be available for avionics—and probably fuel, since weapon bays take much of the wing-root volume.

Doors on the bays and access panels were serrated, as they usually are in stealthy designs. Wing sweep was greater than 45 deg. and the aspect ratio of the tapered wing somewhat greater than BAE Systems chose for its otherwise similar Taranis technology demonstrator.

The model of the South Korean demonstrator showed no sign of sensors, but protrusions for them would not be expected on a stealthy aircraft. The intended engine was not revealed and may not have been chosen.

Whether South Korea has the experience to smoothly turn the KUS-X into a production aircraft is uncertain. The country’s background in combat aircraft development is limited to making light-attack versions of high-performance jet and propeller trainers, but its range of surveillance drones is growing rapidly.

Korean Air has become the national specialist in pilotless aircraft, while rival Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), with a much larger force of development engineers, handles manned fighters and helicopters. In Japan, Fuji Heavy Industries is the national unmanned-aircraft specialist, while in China it is the Shenyang and Guizhou plants of aeronautics group Avic.

Korean Air has been developing this specialty by working up from battlefield surveillance and reconnaissance drones, a range of which it exhibited at the show.

Absent, however, was its largest production aircraft, a propeller-driven, medium-altitude and long-endurance surveillance drone called MUAV. Already launched as a production program, it is intended to be adaptable as a high-altitude jet aircraft. But the jet derivative now seems unlikely to go ahead, since South Korea is moving toward buying Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawks for that mission.

A bigger production program is in prospect for a Predator-like Korean Air drone called the KUS-15, which the South Korean army would operate as a surveillance and reconnaissance system at corps level. With a slender wingspan of 16 meters, the KUS-15 is of the size of the 1-metric-ton (2,200-lb.) General Atomics MQ-1B Predator and follows much the same configuration, with two major variations: It has no large radome for a satellite communications antenna, and its V tail rises from the fuselage instead of descending from it to protect the rear airscrew from striking the ground. That seems to indicate great confidence in attitude control on takeoff and landing—or a redesign before the type goes into production. It is unclear when a production contract will appear, although industry officials have said that the army does want such an aircraft. Importantly, there is reason to think that a specific need and prospective production order, at least, lie behind all of the military drone designs that Korean Air displayed at the show; they were not just design exercises.

A model of the KUS-15 displayed by Korean Air revealed an electro-optical sensor under the nose and a radome, presumably for a synthetic-aperture radar, under the belly. There were no weapons, but it would be surprising if South Korea, with its serious defense problem, did not consider eventually arming the aircraft, if only to give North Korea more to think about.

Korean Air says the KUS-15 is capable of automatic takeoff and landing and of automatic flight. A key issue for drones flying over the mountainous peninsula is to avoid hitting terrain.

A smaller battlefield drone is also under development, the KUS-11, intended to be operated at division level. Korean Air says it is designed to land in rough terrain and can be adapted for either a skid or wheeled undercarriage. Its sensor is an electro-optical and infrared camera. The ceiling is given as 4,500 meters and maximum speed 210 kph (130 mph).

These aircraft follow earlier battlefield surveillance and reconnaissance drones developed by Korean Air.

The company and rival KAI have separately developed small unmanned tiltrotors in cooperation with the civil Korea Aerospace Research Institute. The institute and KAI are testing a 40% scale model of their aircraft, although they have built the full-size version. Despite the civilian origins of the project, they are trying to interest the defense ministry in it. It is unclear whether it would be a competitor to a Korean Air military product.

In yet another pilotless aircraft project, the institute and KAI are developing a unmanned ground-observation version of a general aviation aircraft.

Photo Credit:Bradley Perrett/AWST

Photo Credit: Bradley Perrett/AWST

Photo: Bradley Perrett

03-11-11, 03:27 PM
Solar Panels Power Glider Controls for Indefinite Flight

Posted on November 3, 2011 by The Editor

Uploaded by ZeroScam on Oct 14, 2009

This 57 second movie clip shows tests of the Autonomous Soaring Project with comments by Project Engineer Michael Allen.

A series of research flights at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in the summer of 2005 validated the premise that using thermal lift could significantly extend the range and endurance of small unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) without a corresponding increase in fuel requirements.

Just as sailplanes use thermal lift and updrafts to soar for extended periods of time, the Autonomous Soaring Project flew a lightweight 15-pound motor-glider to demonstrate that the same concept could be applied to small, powered UAVs to both increase their endurance and save energy.

The remote-controlled model sailplane was modified to incorporate a small electric motor and an autopilot, the latter reprogrammed to detect thermals or updrafts. The software programmed into the autopilot flew the aircraft on a pre-determined racetrack over the northern portion of Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards Air Force Base until it detected an updraft. As the aircraft rose, the engine automatically shut off and the aircraft circled to stay within the convective lift resulting from the thermal or updraft without any human intervention.

A project engineer said the small UAV added 60 minutes to its endurance by soaring autonomously, using thermals that formed over the dry lakebed. Nicknamed Cloud Swift after a bird known for feeding on insects found in rising air masses, the modified model sailplane gained an average altitude of 565 feet in 23 updrafts during 17 flights, and in one strong thermal ascended 2,770 feet.

Small, portable UAVs with long-endurance capabilities could fulfill a number of surveillance roles including forest fire monitoring, traffic control and search and rescue.

Marine Corps Captains Derek Snyder and Dino Cooper, who recently graduated from the Systems Engineering course at Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, have designed an unmanned aircraft that is effectively a glider that can fly indefinitely.

The planned aircraft was developed as thesis projects by Snyder and Cooper. It is dubbed Project TALEUAS (Tactical Long Endurance Unmanned Aerial System) and is a glider that can be hand-launched from the ground or by using a small electric motor with a folding propeller. It will have a sensor that seeks out rising thermal air currents, and solar panels on the wings to power the electronics aboard the glider.

“It can ride thermals all day,” says Kevin Jones, a research associate professor at NPS. With solar panels installed, it could fly for days, possibly weeks, at a time. Gliders have been flown at Camp Roberts near Paso Robles along with powered unmanned aircraft to test communication between the unmanned aircraft and to gauge their potential uses, he said. So far, none have solar panels, Jones said, but “solar technology is improving a lot. There are panels as thick as a piece of paper.”

The military is moving toward automated recon and combat systems — robot ground troops and aircraft — some as small as houseflies. The smallest armed UAS available weighs about 2,000 pounds and requires a runway to take off, according to Jones’ researchers. But the two Marine captains were looking for lighter, more manageable systems that could be carried and used by troops in the field.

Snyder’s project was geared toward the development of a small-arms kit for light UAS, and Cooper’s was to make them capable of spreading chemical “taggants” over an area where insurgents would travel to mark them as they passed through.

Among the ammo tested was a paintball gun, Jones said. The taggants “look like sand, but they’re really hollow capsules with chemical markers inside. When someone steps on them or a vehicle rolls over them, the chemicals stick on.” Such drone-borne taggants, he said, could be used by police to mark vehicles in traffic.

NPS scientists are working toward simplifying unmanned aircraft operations and durability to make them soldier-proof in the field. Currently, Jones said, unmanned aircraft operators are highly trained specialists. NPS researchers want to make them so anyone can run them with a minimum of training.

Jones joined NPS in 1994 as a researcher and has been employed by the Navy school since 1997. Among other projects, he helped develop a miniature flapping-wing aircraft that may eventually become the platform for tiny robot spy planes that could fly in swarms into buildings and caves, armed with cameras and sensors.

Source: Monterey Herald

03-11-11, 03:30 PM
UAS Text Book from K-State and New Mexico State Universities

Posted on November 3, 2011 by The Editor

Kurt Barnhart, executive director of the Applied Aviation Research Center and head of the aviation department, and Eric Shappee, associate professor of aviation, at Kansas State University Salina, have helped write and edit one of the first collegiate-level textbooks on unmanned aircraft systems, “Introduction to Unmanned Aircraft Systems.”


They were joined by Stephen B. Hottman and Douglas M. Marshall. Hottman is deputy director of New Mexico State University’s Physical Science Laboratory, and Marshall is the laboratory’s division manager for unmanned aircraft systems regulatory and standards development.

“The book emerged when Professor Shappee and I were discussing the available textbooks for our new unmanned aircraft systems courses. There was very little available in the way of suitable material, so we decided to create it,” Barnhart said. ”Most of what we found was out of date or didn’t cover the information we wanted it to,” Shappee said.

The textbook is designed as the students’ first exposure to the field of unmanned systems and takes them from having little or no knowledge of the industry to being fluent in the terminology and familiar with the current challenges and issues surrounding the emerging field of study. The illustrated text also offers Web-based resources.

Chapters include current and proposed federal regulations, operational procedures, safety concerns, commercial and military applications, integration into the national airspace system, and the unmanned systems themselves. Shappee will begin using the book in K-State’s unmanned aircraft systems classes in January. He anticipates that the second edition will be released in less than two years to keep pace with the rapidly changing industry.

The book, published by Chemical Rubber Company Press, which primarily publishes texts in the engineering field, is available on Amazon.

Enrolment in the university’s unmanned aircraft systems’ bachelor’s and certificate programs has soared. The bachelor’s degree programme was launched this fall and course enrollments are already capped. Barnhart said one of the many factors that sets Kansas State University’s programme apart from the few others offered in the nation is that students actually get hands-on time learning to fly unmanned aircraft because of key authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The job market is wide open for students seeking careers in the field right now, said Josh Brungardt, director of the university’s unmanned programme. ”If a student wants to work for a manufacturer or military contractor and they’re in the United States, they’ll likely start out at $60,000-$65,000 right out of college,” Brungardt said. “And if they want to do deployments and work for a contractor, they could earn up to $100,000 a year. It’s a very lucrative career field for students.”

Source: K-State Today

04-11-11, 11:45 AM
Sandstorm in Montana

Posted on November 4, 2011 by The Editor

Photo : Patrick Cote/Daily Inter Lake

The Center for Remote Integration in Montana hosted a flight demonstration of the Sandstorm UAS on a remote airstrip south of Columbia Falls on Tuesday. This was the second flight demonstration of the aircraft, after that in Oklahoma in August.

About 45 people were on hand to witness the flight, including officials with local industry, political leaders and a representative from the FAA. The unmanned aircraft, with a 15-foot wingspan and an 8-foot fuselage, took off and landed smoothly with pilot Don Bintz flying at times via the Internet and pilot Justin Sands flying it with a radio-control handset. “We’ve flown this plane from 1,300 miles away,” said Bintz, who has remotely controlled the Sandstorm from Las Vegas over the Internet.

What’s significant is that a Sandstorm aircraft recently received an experimental Airworthiness Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration, allowing it to be flown solely through the Internet and outside radio control rules that involve a 400-foot flight ceiling.

The tail number “N44IKS” on the experimental aircraft is a “huge milestone” for the development and testing of unmanned aircraft in Montana, a state with unencumbered airspace and a unique diversity of terrain and climate, said state Sen. Ryan Zinke of Whitefish, a director of the Center for Remote Integration.

The Hays Military Operations Area outside Great Falls is by itself nearly the size of the Florida peninsula, and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., is pushing for legislation that would pressure the FAA to fast-track approval of unmanned aircraft to be flown outside of military air space in Montana. “There is no better place in the lower 48 states to test and develop these platforms,” Zinke said.

Zinke and his partners envision an evolving industry that will apply military aircraft technology to commercial uses. A company called Unmanned Systems Inc. is producing the Sandstorm aircraft in a facility near Glacier Park International Airport with about five employees, and the airstrip and hangar off Middle Road south of Columbia Falls are used for research and development, said Paul Beard, one of three full-scale aircraft and radio-control pilots involved with the project.

While development of the Sandstorm has been under way for about five years, actual production started about two years ago with the first being completed a year ago. Within a year, the company expects to have completed a total of about 10 aircraft.

Zinke, a former Navy SEAL Team 6 commander, said unmanned aircraft have changed military aviation forever, and the next step is applying that transformative technology to commercial uses. “These aircraft will transition from today’s military-centric role to one of performing cost-effective civilian applications such farming, wildlife management and wildfire command and control,” he said.

And doing so will involve an integration of specialized Montana companies that complement one another, he said, citing cooperative efforts with Nomad Global Communications Solutions, a company based south of Columbia Falls that manufactures mobile vehicles outfitted with information technology systems.

The company has produced vehicles for the military and recently shipped the last of 15 disaster response vehicles to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “This is definitely our field of work,” said Levi Blasdel, a Nomad representative who watched Tuesday’s demonstration flights.

Zinke described how the Sandstorm aircraft could be used as an eye in the sky on a wildfire, providing information on crew and equipment locations and hot spots on the fire perimeter, all integrated with three-dimensional mapping in a command vehicle. The Center for Remote Integration is aimed at coordinating the talents of Montana companies like NOMAD and Unmanned Systems Inc., Zinke said. “We want to bring in industries that are evolving industries.”

Source: Daily Interlake

Patrick Cote/Daily Inter Lake

Patrick Cote/Daily Inter Lake
Remote control
Don Bintz, left, and Justin Sands take turns controlling the Sandstorm unmanned aircraft at an airstrip south of Columbia Falls Tuesday afternoon.

Patrick Cote/Daily Inter Lake
UAS Flight Demonstration
Unmanned Systems Inc. demonstrates the capabilities of their unmanned aircraft Tuesday afternoon.

04-11-11, 04:36 PM
Brazil's Embraer reveals new Harpias UAV

By Stephen Trimble on November 4, 2011 2:10 PM

When Embraer partnered with Elbit Systems last year, it was obvious they would need to redesign the Hermes 450 to satisfy the needs of the Brazilian Air Force.

After all, the Hermes 450 was designed for Israel, where 150-200km mission radius from the ground control station is more than enough. But a 200km footprint in Brazil is not a range; its a joke. The Embraer/Elbit collaboration would have to, at minimum, add a beyond-line-of-sight antenna.

But we had no idea how much the Embraer/Elbit collaboration would depart from the baseline design of the Hermes 450.

The image shown above was revealed this morning in Embraer's third quarter earnings presentation. It reveals a very different aircraft than the Hermes 450. We almost confused the Harpias with the Heron, which is of course made by Elbit's rival Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

The Harpias gives the Embraer/Elbit team an all-new, medium-sized UAS. Who knows? If it works, it may generate export interest in its own right, perhaps adding a new competitor against the IAI Heron and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., Predator A.

05-11-11, 03:44 AM
Refueling Gear Makes Navy’s Next Drone Even Deadlier

By David Axe November 4, 2011 | 2:00 pm

The Navy’s X-47B killer drone is about to get a lot more lethal. Nine months after the 38-foot-long, bat-shaped flying robot took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California for its very first flight, the Navy has announced it will add an aerial refueling capability to at least one of the two X-47 prototypes sometime in 2014.

The decision to add refueling software and equipment was published on the federal government’s business opportunity website and first reported by InsideDefense. (Alas, the piece is behind a firewall.)

How big a deal is this? In a word, very.

After all, what makes the X-47B unique is the fact that it’ll be the first drone to perform one of aviation’s hardest maneuvers: taking off and landing on an aircraft carrier. And drones capable of taking on more gas in-flight could extend, by a huge margin, the range at which the Navy’s 11 aircraft carriers can strike land and sea targets. That in turn should help the expensive flattops avoid the submarines, strike planes, ballistic missiles and other defenses that nations such as China are building specifically to threaten American carriers.

The key to this range increase is the pilot. Or, more to the point, the absence of a pilot.

Limited by a human being’s endurance, a typical manned fighter can fly just 400 miles over the course of a few hours before it’s time to return to base. A flying robot can do much better, observes the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington, D.C. think tank. “A carrier-based [Unmanned Combat Air System] with an unrefueled combat radius of 1,500 nautical miles or more and unconstrained by pilot physiology offers a significant boost in carrier combat capability,” CSBA posited in a 2008 study.

“Indeed, with aerial refueling, a UCAS would be able to stay airborne for 50 to 100 hours — five to 10 times longer than a manned aircraft,” the CSBA study continued. “With multiple aerial refuelings, a UCAS could establish persistent surveillance-strike combat air patrols at ranges well beyond 3,000 nautical miles.” For those of you keeping track, that’s nearly 10 times the range of today’s carrier air wing.

The X-47, which the Navy wants by 2018, has been in development for nearly a decade by Northrop Grumman, builder of the Air Force’s long-range Global Hawk spy drone. After a series of test flights from land bases — including its first wheels-up cruise, depicted above — in 2013 the X-47B will head out to the aircraft carrier USS George Washington for additional trials, launching and landing from the carrier’s crowded, 1,100-foot flight deck.

The aerial refueling tests will follow the carrier trials. The X-47B will be fitted with both Navy-style refueling gear — a probe the refueling plane uses to “plug” into a basket suspended from the tanker — and the receptacle refueling equipment favored by the Air Force, which requires that the tanker plug its own probe into the receiving plane. Dual systems will allow the X-47B to sip gas from the Navy’s carrier-based F/A-18 tankers or the Air Force’s much larger KC-135s and KC-10s.

Not coincidentally, just last year Northrop scored a $33-million contract to outfit a Global Hawk as a tanker, with Air Force-style refueling gear. That means the Navy’s killer drone could someday find itself taking on gas from another flying robot. A robotic tanker could further boost the attacking drone’s range and, by extension, the striking power of the American fleet.

08-11-11, 02:40 AM
Germany to decide on drones purchase in 2012-source

BERLIN | Mon Nov 7, 2011 10:25am EST

BERLIN Nov 7 (Reuters) - Germany will decide next year which drones to purchase for its Bundeswehr military forces, a senior defence source told Reuters, which suggests it is refusing to bow to pressure from EADS for a quick decision to order its Talarion product.

The source said the Bundeswehr would continue leasing Israeli Heron drones until 2014. It could decide to order the EADS Talarion drones but could also opt for another model already available on the market and with a proven track record, the source added.

A separate source familiar with the matter said last week EADS was pushing for a quick decision from Germany on ordering Talarion drones and offering to waive penalties for a cut to orders for the Eurofighter jet if it did so.

EADS has spent years developing the Talarion unmanned aerial vehicle at its own expense in the hope of winning an order from the project's instigators France, Germany and Spain. Yet the Talarion will likely only be operational from 2018.

08-11-11, 03:32 AM
Darpa Looks to Protect Drones From Hack Attacks

By Spencer Ackerman November 7, 2011 | 6:17 pm

Cybersecurity, as interpreted by the Pentagon’s premiere researcher, isn’t just about protecting data networks. It’s about making the military’s killer drones, subs and trucks hacker-proof as well, Darpa revealed on Monday.

The usual picture of cyberattacks involves hackers — maybe sponsored by a government — trying to penetrate a data network. But Darpa’s Kathleen Fisher told the agency’s first-ever Cyber Colloqium, a gathering that seeks to enlist hackers’ ideas, that this conception is too narrow. Think of all the software that goes into a vehicle, for instance the software that controls your car’s anti-lock braking system, could be just as buggy as Windows. Better still, think of all the software that helps keep the U.S.’ fleet of deadly flying robots in the air. (Some of the computers in those drones’ cockpits really do run Windows.) Now remember how Danger Room broke the story last month of the computer virus that infected those drone cockpits, and the vulnerabilities become clearer.

Fisher’s trying to stop those kinds of attacks. Traditional security methods, like anti-virus scanning, can’t solve the problem, because they focus on known families of vulnerabilities. Brand new angles of attack render those defenses useless. So do clueless users, who gets themselves pwned while trying to play Mafia Wars or open up that email promising male enhancement. And the problem gets harder when considering the vulnerabilities in hardware, like the drones themselves. (Counterfeit microchips, anyone?) “You probably can’t just reboot your car as you’re speeding down the highway,” Fisher told the colloquium.

Her answer is mostly a non-answer, like many on display at the colloquium. As one of Darpa’s program managers, she has an effort devoted to creating “high-assurance” systems — effectively, to stop the drones or their software from getting infected. How she’ll do it is unclear: she invited the nearly 700 people in the Renaissance Arlington Capitol View hotel to tell her how.

But that’s not the only way that Darpa is moving in cyberspace. Director Regina Dugan and her very powerful military friend, Gen. Keith Alexander — who runs both the military’s Cyber Command and the super-snoops at the National Security Agency — told the colloquium, very vaguely, that they want more Darpa research devoted to “the investigation of offensive capabilities to address military-specific needs,” as Dugan put it. In cyberspace, it’s “currently easier to play offense than defense,” Dugan said.

Dugan and Alexander didn’t unveil some massive cyber death ray at the colloquium. Indeed, the offensive research that they’re talking about is actually a symptom of what they say they don’t want — that is, an inability to break the paradigm where it’s easier and more cost effective to attack than defend. Only here, they’d be the ones attacking an adversary’s infrastructure, like the U.S. and Israel reportedly did when the Stuxnet worm gunked up the industrial-control systems of the Iranian nuclear program.

Like setting up a firewall, it’s basically a stopgap solution — and not one a vulnerable military wants to junk. But there is the need for a better, long-term answer.

Howard Shrobe thinks one already courses through the veins of every human being who’s ever lived. Shrobe, who joined Darpa last year from MIT, wants to study the human immune system’s multiple tiers of defense. The innate immune system takes care of “common technical vulnerabilities” by making it difficult for germs and dangers to penetrate. But when these natural firewalls fail, the adaptive immune system studies the particular infection, waits a few days, attacks it powerfully, and remembers the malicious microscopic actor in case of Round 2.

Shrobe’s program is called CRASH, for — deep breath — Clean-Slate Design of Resilient, Adaptive, Secure Hosts. The idea is for networked “systems to check each other,” Shrobe says, the way the body’s immune systems do. “They’ll share information about observed things. We [want to] make them act as societies do with public health systems, and then act to deflect” dangers. Anyone in the audience want to help? Email Shrobe.

Darpa’s next big cybersecurity initiative, unveiled on Monday, is also big on networking. It’s a program to crowdsource the detect and remove buggy or malicious lines of code. Possibly as a videogame.

“We want to ‘game-ify’ geeky formal verification,” announced Drew Dean, another Darpa program manager. Dean’s brand-new effort, Crowd Sourced Formal Verification, would replace the expensive, slow model of a single expert or security company taking a fine toothed comb to a bit of software, line by line. Instead, Dean wants to turn the hunt for, say, a buffer overflow vulnerability (which allows a hacker to insert to insert malicious code when all the programmer meant to ask for was a password) into a kind of game.

Dean’s theory is that if you do that, people who like brainteasers can become deputized guardians of the military’s networks. His rough sketch of the verification game, shown above, would drop bits of code, represented in colored blocks, down pipes. If you can’t fit a block down a pipe, you’ve got an anomaly to report. It’s a bit like Tetris for the security set.

All of this is in its early stages, though. Darpa’s research typically takes years to develop, and cybersecurity needs to move, as the cliche on display in the ballroom goes, at net-speed. The stopgap solution may well be the U.S. playing more offense online, and less defense. But the long run, Darpa hopes, its study of white blood cells, anti-lock brakes and endless hours of gaming will make that whole model obsolete.

Images: Darpa

08-11-11, 04:05 AM
A bit more on this plus pic..............

South Korea Moves Ahead with Stealth Combat UAS Demonstrator

Posted on November 7, 2011 by The Editor

South Korea is moving rapidly into the demonstrator phase for a stealth combat unmanned aircraft that it does not expect to field until late in the next decade.

With the KAI, the defence ministry’s designers have chosen a configuration much like those of proposed Western aircraft. Western countries such as the US, Britain and France are, like South Korea, still studying such aircraft, with varying degrees of seriousness. So Korea, with an aerospace sector that has never built a manned combat aircraft, is already seeking to enter into the first rank in the unmanned field. And it is doing this while separately pursuing a programme for a stealth manned fighter called KF-X.

The project is being pursued by the ambitious Agency for Defense Development, for decades the home of much of the country’s most advanced talent in aerospace technology. Both the KF-X and the combat unmanned aircraft programme are at a stage at which design engineers are laying the groundwork, knowing that the military could use their proposed product and hoping that parliament will pay for full-scale development.

Korean Air Aerospace has won a contract to build an unmanned combat aircraft demonstrator and should begin flight testing in 2013.

Source: Aviation Week

09-11-11, 01:41 AM

A Defense Technology Blog

The Votes Are In...at DARPA's UAVforge

Posted by Graham Warwick at 11/8/2011 2:55 PM CST

The first round of voting has closed at DARPA's UAVforge.net website, which the agency has set up to enable the crowdsourced design of a small perch-and-stare unmanned aircraft.

The 1,300-plus members of the site were invited to vote on concept videos posted by 48 teams. The highest ranked, with a score of 4.128 out of a possible 5, is a quadrotor design from the University of Michigan's MAAV team (Michigan Autonomous Aerial Vehicles):

Video: MAAV
Uploaded by MAAVteam on Oct 25, 2011
Michigan Autonomous Aerial Vehicles (MAAV) Competes in the DARPA UAVForge Challenge. Phase One Concept Video.
See the video with the real soundtrack here: http://vimeo.com/31207090
Music Credit to Daft Punk - The Game Has Changed

Ranked second with a rating of 3.45, and my personal favorite, is the National University of Singapore's ball-shaped, ground-mobile, coaxial-rotor GremLion:

Video: NUS
Uploaded by tsllinf on Oct 25, 2011
Concept video submitted for UAVForge Competition (www.UAVForge.net). GremLion is the name of the team from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, National University of Singapore.

Following up behind are a ducted-prop tailsitter with clip-on wings from the Cooper Unmanned Development Team (Cooper is a college in New York); a fan-in-wing-and-tail design from Icarus Labs, a group of MIT engineers; and a quad-tiltotor concept (with retractable perching arm) from Singapore's Nanyang Technological University. You can see the videos and their rankings at UAVforge.net.

The next milestone in DARPA's UAVforge competition is the posting of proof-of-flight videos of the UAVs, with another round of voting planned for December. The winners of the UAVforge fly-off competition (see previous Ares post) will have 15 examples of their design manufactured for use in a military exercise later in 2012.

10-11-11, 12:36 AM
UCAVs Add Battlefield Mission Capabilities

Nov 9, 2011

By David Eshel
Tel Aviv

Unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV) have the potential to revolutionize air warfare. The ability of armed UAVs to fly undetected over many areas and launch precision-guided strikes against time-critical targets makes them a major factor in the asymmetric battles that dominate current conflicts.

Their potential, moreover, as platforms for suppression of enemy air-defense systems, airborne early warning of ballistic missile attacks and even boost-phase intercept of ballistic missiles makes them flexible, effective and—importantly—low-cost assets that can engage hostile forces and advanced defenses. They can do this without risking the lives of pilots and, possibly, help shape the success of future wars.

While fifth-generation warplanes such as Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II are the pinnacle of military aviation, UCAVs might come to supplement or even dominate combat aviation. Dramatic developments in long-range air defense, sophisticated radars that negate stealth, beyond-visual-range combat and human limitations in mission endurance could make UCAVs more viable for many missions than manned aircraft.

UCAVs can be configured for a growing number of tasks. They can also be manufactured and operated at a fraction of the cost of manned combat aircraft, the growing price of which makes them difficult to absorb in dwindling defense budgets—at least for the foreseeable future.

UCAVs have already found an important battlefield niche in killing enemy leaders and disrupting forces. Israel has apparently been using precison strikes from airborne assets—manned as well as unmanned—in targeted killing operations for some time. The U.S. has used drones for years to eliminate insurgents. A U.S. strike on Sept. 30, for example, killed the notorious American-born Anwar Al Awlaki, a leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen. (On Oct. 14, Awlaki’s son, Abdul Rahman Anwar Awlaki, was killed with six others in another U.S. drone attack.)

The problem with using UAVs to attack fleeting targets is the need to achieve real-time detection and identification before firing. Until recently, the technology for this was not available. The growing use of remote video links, which enable operators to monitor targets in real time, now allows users to deploy armed drones with greater confidence of successful identification and targeting. Network-enabled systems using distributed command-and-control elements—along with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and armed airborne assets—will benefit from progress made with UAVs and precision-guided weapons.

The U.S. has made good use of the Lockheed Martin Hellfire missile on its armed drones. Israeli suppliers are focusing on this market as well. Precision weapons that could be adapted for UCAVs include the Lahat missile, designed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) subsidiary MBT. Lahat utilizes semi-active laser guidance to home in on targets from beyond 10 km (6 mi.). Fitted with a multipurpose shaped-charge warhead, Lahat engages targets marked by a laser designator on the launch platform, or by indirect designation from another unit closer to a target.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has been proposing its Spike guided missile as a UCAV weapon for at least two years. As far back as the 2005 Paris air show, Sagem displayed an early mockup of its Sperwer-B drone with a Spike dispenser tube under each wing. In his latest study on the 2006 Lebanon War, “Air Operations in Israel’s War Against Hezbollah,” Benjamin Lambeth states that Israel was using Elbit Systems’ Hermes 450 UAV with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems’ Spike ER (extended-range) missiles over Lebanon and Gaza. There has been no confirmation of this by Israel, although Lambeth cites interviews with Israel Air Force (IAF) officials in his study.

Another candidate for an armed drone is IAI’s turboprop Eitan UAV (also known as Heron TP). This 4.5-ton reconnaissance platform has a wingspan of 26 meters (85 ft.). The aircraft adds significantly to the operational capabilities of the IAF, primarily in long-range missions, and carries 1-ton payloads higher and longer than most other drones.

Whether the Eitan UAV can carry weapons has not been confirmed, though according to an IAF briefing, “Eitan has the potential to introduce new mission profiles and capabilities, as operators gather more experience with the aircraft.”

Such missions could include aerial refueling of UAVs, allowing them to stay aloft for weeks, and airborne early warning against ballistic missile attacks, using electro-optical and electromagnetic sensors. The missile-defense mission could, in fact, include boost-phase intercept, during which the UAV would attempt to destroy ballistic missiles during their ascent when they are most vulnerable.

Photo: IAI

10-11-11, 01:33 AM
UK MoD Signs £20M Nano UAS Contract

Posted on November 9, 2011 by The Editor

Black Hornet - Photo: Prox Dynamics

Marlborough Communications Limited and sub-contractor Prox Dynamics have been awarded the contract to supply commercial off-the-shelf Nano-UAS systems and spares to the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence.

The value of the initial contract is 2.5 million GBP (US $4M), with potential through life costs and follow-on options of up to 20 million GBP (US $32M).

Regular readers will remember that the UK Ministry of Defence issued a contract notification in February for a Nano UAS to be deployed urgently in Afghanistan.

The Contract Award notice is light on detail about the number of systems purchased, the extent of the services and the duration of the contract. But the original Tender Notice stated that “The Authority is unable to quantify the volume of work at this stage however it anticipates that over 100 NUAS may be procured with associated support and training for a period of 1 year with options for support for a maximum of 3 years.”

The system chosen is the Black Hornet Personal Reconnaissance System. It provides soldiers with their own immediate Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance capability for operations in confined areas and outdoors.

A joint statement said:

“Prox Dynamics is very proud and honoured to have been chosen to supply the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence with our Nano-UAS. This is a result of the wide experience and several years of dedicated work within the company to develop and supply organic airborne ISR systems to the soldiers.

Marlborough Communications is very pleased to be working with Prox Dynamics on this prestigious project, reinforcing Marlborough Communications’ reputation for successfully delivering vital capability and solutions to the UK Ministry of Defence.”

Source: Press Release

10-11-11, 01:39 AM
Team DLR wins IMAV 2011 Outdoor Competition

Posted on November 9, 2011 by The Editor

Uploaded by DLRde on Nov 3, 2011
The "Team DLR" was a joint effort to participate in an international micro aerial vehicle competition. It comprised DLR researchers of the Institute of Flight Systems, Braunschweig, and the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics, Oberpfaffenhofen. The competition took place in t'Harde, Netherlands in September 2011.
Unmanned aircraft that showed a high level of autonomy, i.e. independence from a human pilot, received more points for each successfully attempted mission element than its manually piloted counterpart.
The team DLR was one of two contestants that managed and coordinated autonomous flight of up to four unmanned aircraft at the same time within the arena.
As a result, Team DLR accomplished various mission elements within a competition time slot of just 30 minutes:
Pass a 6m x 6m gate,
recognize a sequence of digits,
find and identify „drug dealers" that were hiding somewhere out of sight,
drop spy microphones within a designated area and recognize what people were talking.
As you may recognize from the footage, not all aircraft worked as planned, such that the coordination plan had to be adapted on short notice. Nevertheless, all accomplished mission elements were performed successfully and autonomously, including take off and landing maneuvers.

The German Aerospace Center (DLR), winners of the International Micro Air Vehicle 2011 Outdoor Competition in September, just posted this video of the event.The “Team DLR” was a joint effort to participate in an international micro aerial vehicle competition. It comprised DLR researchers of the Institute of Flight Systems, Braunschweig, and the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics, Oberpfaffenhofen. The competition took place in t’Harde, Netherlands in September 2011.

Unmanned aircraft that showed a high level of autonomy, i.e. independence from a human pilot, received more points for each successfully attempted mission element than its manually piloted counterpart.

The team DLR was one of two contestants that managed and coordinated autonomous flight of up to four unmanned aircraft at the same time within the arena. As a result, Team DLR accomplished various mission elements within a competition time slot of just 30 minutes:

■ Pass a 6m x 6m gate
■ Recognise a sequence of digits
■ Find and identify „drug dealers” that were hiding somewhere out of sight
■ Drop spy microphones within a designated area and recognize what people were talking.

As the video shows, not all aircraft worked as planned. Nevertheless, all accomplished mission elements were performed successfully and autonomously, including take off and landing manoeuvres.

Source: Press Release

10-11-11, 12:02 PM
MILCOM 2011: Terabyte data storage solution revealed for UAVs

10 November 2011 - 9:40 by Andrew White in Baltimore, US

Mercury Computer Systems unveiled its latest 96-terabyte Digital Storage Unit (DSU) designed for ISR platforms at the MILCOM exhibition in Baltimore this week.

The decision to bring the product to the market responds to the development of 'sophisticated' new ISR sensors which generate huge amounts of data requiring unprecedented demands on data storage for processing, exploitation and dissemination (PED) or post-mission forensics.

Unable to provide specific details, Mercury solutions marketing manager Thomas Roberts said the DSU was already operational on an undisclosed UAV operating in theatre since the start of the year.

However, he was able to confirm that a total of no more than 10 DSUs had been delivered to the programme. He told Shephard that the DSU boosted data storage capability by between 400 and 800% when compared to other legacy systems.

'The explosion in both the number of sensors and amount of data they generate is driving the need for larger capacity embedded storage solutions,' continued Mercury's senior VP and general manager, Didier Thibaud.

For this reason, the company told Shephard that it was looking to offer up the DSU for other applications including ground mobile vehicle and wide area aerial surveillance, both of which require large amounts of embedded storage.

'Several programmes are looking at it, although they are mostly UAVs. We are also looking at smaller variants of the DSU', Roberts concluded, although this will include smaller amounts of data storage capability,

11-11-11, 02:37 AM
Embraer reveals design work on Harpia UAV

By: Stephen Trimble Washington DC

10 hours ago


Embraer has revealed the first image of a new medium-altitude unmanned air vehicle (UAV) now under development and aimed for the Brazilian defence and security market - at least initially.

The twin-boomed aircraft is being developed by the Harpia joint venture formed in September between Embraer and Elbit Systems subsidiary AEL.

However, the Harpia UAV unveiled in an earnings presentation by Embraer in early November bears little resemblance to Elbit's Hermes 450, which was acquired by the Brazilian air force earlier this year.

© Embraer

The Harpia UAV includes a twin-boomed tail connected to a highly-tapered, high-aspect ratio wing. A pusher, propeller-driven engine is shown on the aft end of a fuselage with a dolphin-shaped nose, which is likely designed to accommodate a beyond line-of-sight antenna.

Although Embraer released an image of the UAV, the company did not answer requests for performance and schedule data. But the image suggests the Harpias joint venture plans to exceed the performance of the Hermes 450 and perhaps compete with other medium-altitude surveillance aircraft, including the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Predator and Israel Aerospace Industries Heron.

For the immediate future, however, Embraer has no plans to market the Harpia UAV beyond Brazil and neighbouring countries, said Embraer chief executive Frederico Curado in a conference call with financial analysts.

"The focus is Brazil, in the country's armed forces and also, potentially, some police forces," Curado said, adding that "countries where Brazil may have some geopolitical influence" may also become customers.

The medium-altitude UAV project is another step in Embraer's emergence as a military aircraft designer.

Although founded by a privatised branch of the Brazilian air force's aeronautical research division, Embraer first gained worldwide attention in the 1990s with a series of popular regional jets. In the past decade, it has also become a major business jet manufacturer.

More recently, the company has re-targeted the defence sector for its next expansion. The launch of the KC-390 tanker/transport in April 2009 was the first big move. Nearly two years later, it also established the Embraer Defense and Security division. This was launched with the intention to develop UAVs, although no timetable was revealed for such a project.

The Brazilian military has increasingly focused on acquiring an unmanned surveillance capability for the Amazon and the country's maritime domains. In addition to operations with the Hermes 450, Brazil's Avibras is also testing the Falcao medium-altitude UAV.

The Harpia and Falcao are likely to play a major role if the Brazilian army decides to move forward with an Amazonian surveillance programme called SISFROM.

11-11-11, 03:40 PM

A Defense Technology Blog

New UAE UAV Debuts At Dubai Air Show

Posted by Robert Wall at 11/11/2011 3:01 AM CST

The United Arab Emirates's Adcom Systems is unveiling a new unmanned aircraft at the Dubai air show. The system so far appears to have two names, the United 40 and the Smart Eye 2.

Here a mockup and graphic of the system:

(Pictures: AWST)

Performance figures for the Smart Eye 2 are not out yet, but one must assume they will beat those of the Smart Eye 1:

11-11-11, 04:19 PM
It's becoming interesting to see how many UAS systems are being projected for Civvie use outside of the already-well known Homeland Defence and Police arenas...........Australia is doing a fair bit of Farming systems research and development but here are two further arenas being explored, Avalanche Rescue and Fire-fighting, the latter being an area we need to progress in and develop............

Airborne Avalanche Rescue System

Posted on November 11, 2011 by The Editor

The project for an Airborne Avalanche Rescue System by designer Tatjana Rolle aims to decrease crucial emergency rescue times after avalanches by utilizing autonomous airborne drones to detect and mark the position of victims.

Immediately following the avalanche, the activated drone leaves its solar charging station, scouts the area and tags the positions with bright paint so rescuers can recover victims without delay.

A sensor grid and the AARA drones at their base stations are installed in a range of avalanche endangered zones avalanche, making it possible to detect avalanches immediately. The cross-linked sensors are able to locate the exact position of the run-out zone of an avalanche, activate the drones and alert the mountain rescue service. Approaching the site the drone starts its locating-mode. If it finds a victim, the drone assigns the place with a color mark. The rescue team is able to start the retrieval directly.

The AARA-drones are based in autarkic stations. These not only shelter the drones, but also serve as a node between the cross-linked avalanche detectors, AARA and the mountain rescue service. This is where all information converges. Solar modules ensure the electric power supply. AARA is protected by a dome that opens up in case of emergency. The station’s platform contains a charging cradle to recharge the batteries of the drone.

Alongside the precise and steady flight, AARA has to manage its job as a positioning drone. It has a GPS for navigation and an ultrasonic sensor for distance measurement. The positioning is done by the already established RECCO-System. It works with passive reflectors and active detectors. The reflectors independence of energy is the main advantage so they can be integrated easily and are cost-efficient to the ski-equipment. In addition, AARA wireless communication to exchange data with the mountain rescue service and the base station, as well as a magazine of colour cartridges to mark the find spot.

The shell is a kind of exoskeleton that protects the technical components while also serving as main supporting structure.

As a material an ultra-light composite material like carbon fibre comes into consideration. Characteristic properties like the variable flight and the central and therefore protected thrust unit are the centre points the design is based on.

The design of AARA is as different as its unconventional flight technology in reference to common drone appearances.

Source: Yanko Design

11-11-11, 04:23 PM
University of Cincinnati Study Shows UAS Save Firefighter Lives

Posted on November 11, 2011 by The Editor

MarcusUAV Zephyr

Kelly Cohen, associate professor of Aerospace Engineering & Engineering Mechanics at the University of Cincinnati, supervises a project known as SIERRA (Surveillance for Intelligent Emergency Response Robotic Aircraft) which integrates small, unmanned aircraft with global positioning systems, environmental data, video and fire-prediction software to give real-time information about where a fire is burning, and where it is moving.

“Wildfires kill and, too often, fatalities are caused by a lack of situational awareness, said. Timely information can prevent wildfire deaths, especially among first responders,” said Cohen. ”What we are designing is a complete system. It is low-cost and low-risk. That is important for this application because, while the technology is ready, firefighters are not quick to adopt new technologies. We can show that this works.”

Kelly Cohen, Manish Kumar and Rob Charvat with Zephyr Photo: University of Cincinnati

To gain the confidence of working firefighters, the graduate student who serves as SIERRA team leader, Robert Charvat, participated in firefighter training in West Virginia. The SIERRA team tested the system in Coopers Rock State Forest, West Virginia, with a small, contained fire on Nov. 5, 2011, in collaboration with the West Virginia Division of Forestry. The UC team present at this test included five graduate students and three undergraduates who experienced a valuable day of learning away from the classroom and labs.

“This test was a clear demonstration of the potential for this technology to limit wild land fire damage by saving money, lives and land,” Charvat said.

The SIERRA system, Cohen said, is designed to assist firefighters overcome a major handicap during a wildfire — the inability to see the whole fire. Wildfires not only burn through rugged terrain marked by hills and valleys but, even on relatively level ground, obscure their extent by screens of smoke.

“If I am coordinating response efforts,” Cohen said, “I require information to determine what resources I need, where I must deploy those resources, and where I must be ready to move. This system uses the information gathered and allocates resources.”

The SIERRA system is built around a small, unmanned aircraft from Marcus UAV Inc. The five-pound vehicle has a 54-inch wingspan and the ability to fly faster than 35 miles per hour to altitudes of 10,000 feet on flights lasting approximately an hour. While in the air, the vehicle can transmit video while it navigates using GPS.

“For our purposes, the vehicle flew no higher than 500 feet,” Cohen said. “It was a successful demonstration of tactical unmanned aircraft system technology for use in wild land fire events.”

At the fire command center, the in-flight data is merged with Google Earth images, NOAA weather data and fire-prediction software to make informed and effective decisions by the incident commander.

Uploaded by marcusuav on Mar 13, 2010
Realtime tracking of Marcus Zephyr UAV through Google Earth

Although the West Virginia demonstration focused on firefighting, the integrated system Cohen has developed along with Manish Kumar of UC’s Cooperative Distributed Systems Lab, has applications beyond wildfire response.

“A similar decision-making need arises in many disasters,” Cohen said, “including floods and earthquakes.” The system can even be modified for use for simulation based training for first responders.

“As we execute this work,” Cohen said. “We are continually reviewing additional areas in which our unmanned aerial vehicle based systems and algorithms may provide a benefit. One such area is air traffic management while effectively integrating unmanned aerial vehicles into the national airspace.”

Source: Science Daily

14-11-11, 06:39 AM
French Air Chief: UAVs Taxing Available Satellite Bandwidth


Published: 12 Nov 2011 14:02

DUBAI - A move to a new standard communications band is needed because of a saturation of current bandwidth, French Air Chief of Staff Gen. Jean-Paul Palomeros said Nov. 12.

Increasingly relied-upon unmanned aerial vehicles such as Predators, Reapers and the French Harfang generate huge amounts of data, including full motion video, and complex sensors such as high definition video, laser designators, imaging radar, ground moving target indicators and multispectral imagers demand high bandwidth for transmission, Palomeros told an Air Chiefs conference ahead of the Dubai Airshow's Nov. 13 opening.

Planners estimate a large bandwidth is needed because of a "multitasking of UAVs," with many remote piloted vehicles being operated simultaneously, Palomeros said.

Some 20 gigabits per second is needed to cope with the growing number of UAVs, which are swamping the current Ku bandwidth available on satellite communications links.

"Ka band appears to me as an interesting option," even if the signals are much more sensitive to weather conditions, Palomeros said.

Some technology has been developed, dubbed adaptive codage modulation, that limits the weather's impact on the signal, but a good solution would be to get industry to furnish a dual-band Ku-Ka antenna, Palomeros said.

"This option allows us to benefit from the maturity of the Ku, while anticipating the potential benefits of the Ka-band," he said.

Among "pragmatic options" for boosting UAV efficiencies, Palomeros suggested:

■ Chat rooms between coalition UAV operators, to allow coordination of surveillance missions and to boost interoperability.

■ Greater training in simulation to improve joint operations of UAVs and to overcome "ignorance of UAV performance" among ground commanders.

■ Fuse and share imagery, communication and signal intelligence as a single intelligence chain of command; to think of intelligence as a "whole operational concept" and not as "different pillars."

■ Operate UAVs as elements of a distributed air operation in which the air vehicles work alongside manned aircraft such as the Rafale, so they contribute to the entire mission set of an air operation.

■ Co-locate experts in the same unit, so intelligence professionals can provide the best situational awareness in near real-time in their specific domain, and intelligence experts should deploy regularly to keep information up to date.

■ Develop software to allow automatic detection of "suspicious activity," although most of the time human intelligence and operational expertise will be more effective than sophisticated software.

■ Work on autonomous flight rather than target detection, with manual override for pilots on the ground to reroute.

As an example of the concept of operations to be expected in UAV use, Palomeros showed a video in which a Rafale pilot used data from a Predator UAV to cross cue the designation pod on the French warplane, allowing the pilot to locate and identify a target.

14-11-11, 02:12 PM
DRDO Conducts 5th Successful Flight of UAV Rustom-1

(Source: Press Information Bureau India; issued November 11, 2011)

Indigenously designed and developed RUSTOM-1 made 5th successful Flight this morning while flying at an altitude of 2300 ft AGL (above ground level) & at a speed 100 Knots during 25 minute of cruise near Hosur.

It may be noted that this Medium Altitude Long Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (MALE - UAV) is developed by DRDO with Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) Bangalore as the nodal laboratory. It had its maiden flight in 2010.

Mr. PS Krishnan, Director, ADE said that the flight was successful as all the modifications done worked well and all the parameters were achieved by the UAV which was weighing 661Kg and the total performance was good. In specific the objective of testing modified lift-off scheme, modified altitude and speed-hold logics worked excellently well.

Indian Army has shown keen interest in this programme. This UAV has the potential military missions like Reconnaissance & Surveillance, Target Acquisition, Target Designation, Communications Relay, Battle Damage Assessment and Signal Intelligence.

This UAV can attain a maximum speed of 150 Knots, 22,000 ft of altitude and endurance of 12-15 hours with an operating range of 250 km when fully developed.


14-11-11, 02:41 PM
A bit more on this MALE..............

Dubai Airshow 2011: Adcom unveils United 40 MALE UAV

13 November 2011 - 15:04 by Tony Osborne in Dubai, UAE

Abu Dhabi-based Adcom used the Dubai Airshow to unveil its latest creation – the United 40 MALE UAV.

The United 40 uses an unusual biplane configuration and a hybrid turbine-electric engine to enhance its endurance.

The aircraft on display in Dubai is the first prototype and Ali Al Dhaheri, general designer and CEO at Adcom, told Shephard he hoped to fly the aircraft in the next three to four weeks.

'With most UAVs with a pusher propeller, the centre of gravity is towards the rear of the aircraft,' said Al Dhaheri, 'But with the two-wing configuration, we keep the centre of gravity in the middle of the aircraft.

‘The United 40 uses a patented design wing giving it a glide ratio of 1:43. That’s four times more than the glide ratio of the MQ-9 Reaper,' he added.

Al Dhaheri claimed that the wings allow the aircraft sustain cruise flight at a one-sixth of the aircraft's full engine power of 120 hp, provided by the Rotax 914 engine. The power of the electric motor, which is capable of producing 80 hp can be combined with the engine to give the aircraft 200 hp, boosting take-off performance in hot and high conditions.

The United 40, which has been named in celebration of the United Arab Emirates 40th anniversary, is also designed to be armed, capable of carrying up to eight Namrod air-to-ground missiles. The missiles feature fold out wings that deploy when the weapons are ejected from the aircraft. The weapons are carried on a rotary launcher.

Al Dhaheri says one of the design priorities was to keep design clean to improve aerodynamics – as a result even the aircraft's EO/IR sensor is retractable. Control operations can be done by satellite or line-of-sight.

Al Dhaheri claimed the aircraft could fly for several days, although company literature suggests a more conservative but no less impressive 25 hours. The aircraft is 11m long and has a wing span of 17.5m.

15-11-11, 11:39 AM
Israel’s Giant Eitan Soon to be Operational

Posted on November 15, 2011 by The Editor

The Israeli Air Force’s largest unmanned aircraft is scheduled to begin operations within several months after eight years in development.Several Eitan UAS are scheduled to begin operations in the various combat sectors including Gaza and Lebanon.

The Eitan is 14 meters long and has 26 meter-long wings. It is able to fly for 20 hours straight at a maximum speed of 143 Knots and reach a maximum altitude of 41,000 feet. It weighs five tons and can carry up to one ton.

Eitan is meant to be utilized in complex intelligence gathering missions. It has already been dubbed “the most advanced UAS in the world.” The “heavy UAS,” as it has also been called, will also attempt to distinguish between terrorists and civilians in sensitive combat regions. “For the first time in military history we have a combatant who takes part in intercepting military targets with no direct threat to his life,” Lieutenant-Colonel Ido Frumer said.

Source: YT Net News

16-11-11, 01:41 AM
Predator Maker Redesigns UAV To Boost Exports

By Eddie Walsh

Published: November 15, 2011

Each generation has military platforms which define it. Inter-continental ballistic missiles, stealth bombers, and nuclear propulsion submarines assumed that mantle during the Cold War. In the post-Cold War period, few military platforms have captivated the War on Terror generation like the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).

Despite great success on the battlefield, American defense firms have found it difficult to generate significant export revenue from UAV platforms. This is because export of advanced U.S. military UAVs have traditionally fallen under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) Category I export control restrictions. These restrictions strongly discourage export of such platforms to important buyer countries in Asia and the Middle East such as India, UAE, and Singapore.

As defense budgets decline worldwide, it is no secret that American defense firms are looking to break into growing markets in Asia and the Middle East to offset future revenue losses. But with American manufacturers unable to sell their advanced UAV technologies in these regions, that market share has gone largely to foreign manufacturers, including UAV exporters from Israel, Singapore, and South Africa.

That is about to change.

Leading American UAV manufacturers have redesigned their existing military platforms to fall under the far less restrictive MTCR Category II. The redesigned UAVs will prove more competitive than previous non-U.S. military platforms offered by American manufacturers and their offshore subsidiaries, industry insiders say. The Obama Administration also appears increasingly supportive of the export of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance-only UAV platforms to select non-MTCR member states in Asia and the Middle East, including India.

General Atomics is one American UAV manufacturer hoping to win big in Asia and the Middle East. The company recently introduced an unarmed but potent MTCR Category II-governed offering, the Predator XP, designed for overseas buyers.

"The recent disclosure by the Administration (regarding their support of ISR-only UAV exports to non-MTCR countries) sparked our interest. Non-MTCR Category I countries have not been a focus for us. But, that changed recently when the U.S. Government gave export permission for the Predator XP. The differences are slight changes to the configuration which now make it Category II compliant. The Predator XP opens up new markets to us," According to Christopher Ames, Director of Business Development at General Atomics.

One such market is India, which Ames acknowledges is a market of interest for his company. However, it is not the only emerging market that General Atomics hopes to enter into. For this reason, company executives are involved in a number of industry-led export control reform initiatives.

That said, the company is not all-in on emerging markets. The bulk of its international business development efforts remain focused on selling Category I-governed Predators to traditional MTCR member states in Europe and Asia.

In Asia, General Atomics continues to prioritize Predator B sales to Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea. Ames believes that these countries will emerge as major American UAV buyers as they seek to acquire new maritime accountability capabilities, including larger, more capable UAVs equipped with multi-mode maritime radar.

While General Atomics and other American UAV manufacturers recognize that traditional foreign manufacturers and new market entrants, particularly South Korean manufacturers, will challenge American UAV manufacturer dominance in contested markets, there is not a great deal of concern on the part of industry insiders. "We have a weather eye to both international and domestic competition," says Ames. "Competition is going to grow in the future but we welcome competition. We have amassed 1.6 million hours of flight time though – about 42,000 hours are added per month. Competition will keep us innovative but we will introduce new disruptive changes."

17-11-11, 02:03 PM
Nano UAS from the UK

Posted on November 17, 2011 by The Editor

BCB International‘s SQ-4 weighs only 2.9 ozs. (82 grams), flies up to 400 feet in the air, fits in the palm of a hand, contains two video cameras, can hover in place and perch on ledges, and automatically returns “home” when its battery runs low.

The SQ-4, which was developed by a team at London’s Middlesex University‘s Autonomous Systems Laboratory, debuted this fall at the Defence & Security Equipment International conference in London. Right now, it comes in two separate models: a full-function “recon” model with two cameras and a 4,900-foot flying range that weighs 7 ounces, and a super-miniaturized version with one camera and a 1,640-foot flying range that weighs 2.9 ounces.

Both models are controlled via a remote control. According to BCB project manager Barry Davies, the aircraft are designed for discreet surveillance and reconnaissance tasks in urban settings. They hover silently and send video footage back to the operator and automatically begin to fly back to their launch point once the battery meter drops to 30% or the operator begins to lose control. A separate device from the remote control displays a live video feed on a seven-inch screen for the mission commander. Both the aircraft and accessories are designed to comfortably fit in a standard-size backpack.

While the central portion is handheld, the entire diameter of the UAS–including “wings”–is about the diameter of a Frisbee. The small weight means that they even have the ability to perch, birdlike, on ledges and building ornaments.


Source: Fast Company

22-11-11, 11:09 AM
TiaLinx Phoenix50-A sUAS with Software-Defined Multi-Function Radar Capability

Posted on November 22, 2011 by The Editor

TiaLinx, Inc. announced the release of its software-defined multi-function radar sensor implemented in its vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) platform.

The Phoenix50-A VTOL sUAS system is capable of performing various functions such as motion detection within a compound, scanning the ground for unexploded ordnance (UXO), and non-line of site (NLOS) landing using fine beam ultra-wideband (UWB), multi-Gigahertz radio frequency (RF) sensor array. The sUAS can be remotely controlled at long standoff distances from the ground or an airborne asset. TiaLinx’s real-time UWB RF Imaging development was sponsored by a SBIR Phase II from the Department of Army.

Through a software-controlled interface that is integrated into a laptop or joystick, Phoenix50-A can be remotely guided to perform mission critical tasks. In addition to the GPS based guidance system, the low acoustic signature sUAS can land on a desired premise using an undetectable radar. Upon landing, the RF sensor monitors the premise under surveillance for enhanced situational awareness.

The RF sensor transmits very low power UWB signal that is a fraction of a cellular phone’s transmitter and is highly directional and can penetrate roofs at an extended range. At the receiver, a signal detector circuit is employed to capture the reflections from targets. Amplitude and delay information are then processed in an integrated signal processor. Capability to probe a compound at standoff keeps the operator and the Phoenix50-A out of harm’s way.

“Phoenix50-A’s introduction is intended to provide another breakthrough in the miniaturization of advanced life detection sensors that provide the capability to sense-through-the-roof (STTR) remotely. Like its sister product Cougar10-B that was launched on February 2011, Phoenix50-A can also be remotely programmed to survey ground for UXOs. The additional feature of landing in NLOS has paved the road for delivery of autonomous platforms to be announced in the near future,” commented Dr. Fred Mohamadi, Founder and CEO of TiaLinx. “TiaLinx is constantly miniaturizing and upscaling its UWB RF imaging core competence to enable standoff sensing of a premise to enhance situational awareness, assist rescue operations in hard-to-reach terrains (such as collapsed buildings after an earthquake), and eradicate land mines to save lives.”

Source: Press Release

23-11-11, 02:24 PM
Lockheed Martin demos airborne border surveillance

23 November 2011 - 12:15 by the Shephard News Team

Lockheed Martin has demonstrated advanced border surveillance capabilities from an optionally piloted vehicle, in order to show how traditional defence-focused integrated airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities can be quickly adapted to address dynamic border protection as well as maritime search and rescue needs.

The demonstration was carried out during a recent European exercise to help evaluate how optionally piloted vehicles or unmanned vehicles can further enhance border surveillance in the maritime domain. According to a company statement, Lockheed Martin demonstrated ‘how quickly optionally piloted vehicles could collect intelligence on suspicious activity or detect boats in distress, then immediately send imagery, streaming video and other gathered intelligence to a ground station’.

According to the company, the demonstration used a Diamond Airborne Sensing aircraft equipped with a FLIR Electro Optical/InfraRed camera and a robust communications suite. The aircraft collected high definition video and imagery over several flights, and captured information was then transmitted to a ground system via both line of sight and beyond line of sight communications, providing users on the ground with better situational understanding and broader knowledge of the immediate environment. In near real-time, ground station analysts were able to view the data, then update situational awareness displays for all users in the enterprise. Lockheed Martin's team also demonstrated how to share situational awareness pictures with a wide range of display technologies, ranging from computers to handheld devices.

The Lockheed Martin team included Diamond Aircraft Industries, Scotty Group, Inmarsat, FLIR Government Systems, FAST Protect AG and Broadcast Microwave Services, Inc.

23-11-11, 02:30 PM
QinetiQ Zephyr Wins Double Award in UK

Posted on November 23, 2011 by The Editor

QinetiQ’s Zephyr team has been honoured by the IET (Institution of Engineering and Technology) for their world record breaking work on a High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) unmanned aircraft by winning both the awards for Emerging Technologies and Product Design at the prestigious IET Innovation Awards event held in London on Wednesday 9th November.

The judging panel commented:

“The Zephyr takes a giant step towards the goal of eternal flight – the concept of which is fascinating, exciting and with enormous opportunities. This design ticks all the boxes – social impact, novelty, inventiveness and it could have a dramatic impact economically. The entire aircraft design has been considered and optimised – power, weight, sensors, propulsion in order to make the prospect of ‘near-eternal’ flight a realistic possibility. High altitude performance in the presence of varying thermals and pressures has been achieved. On top of this, it has already captured the world record for the longest duration flight of an unmanned aircraft (over two weeks) and has redefined what was believed to be achievable. A clear winner”

The Zephyr platform is a flagship UK-developed technology that has already achieved three official world records, including absolute flight endurance of 14 days, 22 minutes, 8 seconds, in 2010. This achievement saw the 22metre wing span Zephyr craft remain aloft for over two weeks and soar to altitudes in excess of 70,000 feet.

Using solar power and state of the art rechargeable batteries with a total mass of only 50kg, the Zephyr is capable of hosting commercial communications and remote camera payloads for months at a time. It promises formidable advantages in defences and security roles as diverse as persistent wide area communications relay, missile detection, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and maritime patrol.

Following the record breaking flight in 2010, the Zephyr team has been engaged in fully validating and optimising the design and performance of the system, placing it in a unique position to provide reliable operations with a wide range of payloads and under different conditions.

Chris Kelleher, Chief Designer of the Zephyr expressed his delight at the award:

“It is a great honour for the QinetiQ HALE team to be recognised by the IET for development of the Zephyr technology and design, following our World Record 14 day first flight of the novel aircraft. We look forward to developing Zephyr truly persistent, wide area stratospheric military and civil services across the world, offering capabilities well beyond existing satellites and aircraft. We are particularly pleased with these awards, given the very high quality of the other finalists.

Neville Salkeld, Managing Director, Technology Solutions Group at QinetiQ commented:

“The team has undertaken a world class programme of applied technology, and we are delighted to have this innovation recognised by such an august body.

We are particularly pleased that the team has not only achieved the desired performance, but have demonstrated such a complete understanding of how the system works and can be developed to meet even more applications and markets in future. We now need to build on this work to ensure that the technical achievement is exploited to its fullest extent commercially, and I am working with the team to accelerate progress”

Source: Press Release

25-11-11, 03:12 PM
Growing Demand for Direct Laser Sintering in UAS Construction

Posted on November 25, 2011 by The Editor

A wing fuel tank for an Arcturus T-20 UAV made with EOS laser sintered plastic (PA 2201) Photo : Northwest Rapid Manufacturing

Direct laser sintering (DLS) is seeing rapid uptake in the construction of unmanned aircraft. DLS is an additive manufacturing (AM) technique that can produce some of the most durable high-quality products around.

Aerospace manufacturers — along with numerous users in the medical sector — are taking advantage of AM to produce low volumes of complex products requiring high precision.

“We’re seeing a growing interest in DLS for aerospace,” Andy Snow, EOS regional director for North America, told us in an interview.

The process can be used to make parts as simple as basic clips that hold harnesses. Some typical applications include components of engines and turbines, as well as parts for cabin interiors. Manufacturing gas turbine engines for use on commercial aircraft — a use of DLS that’s accelerating quickly — is one high-value application. More manufacturers are identifying many components within the engine that can be laser sintered.

EOS DLS systems process different materials, including polymers and metals. Part of the reason for using laser sintered parts is to reduce part counts and simplify assembly procedures. Another is the speed and cost-effectiveness with which fully operative parts with complex geometries and aerodynamic properties can be made available. Other factors include material and weight savings, which can reduce fuel consumption. In addition, manufacturers get fully integrated parts faster and reduce costs. They can also produce small batches and make manufacturer-specific modifications, such as in the cabin.

But the fastest-growing demand in aerospace is from makers of UAS for lightweight components. Northwest UAV Propulsion Systems’ Northwest Rapid Manufacturing business, for example, uses EOS laser sintering systems to produce polyamide and polystyrene UAS components. Laser sintering melts materials at high temperatures and lays them down one at a time in thin layers, making it possible to create complex and unusual shapes.

In North American automotive applications, EOS is still focused primarily on rapid prototyping. “But we have some low-volume manufacturing applications for specialty, limited-series, custom-made automotive designs and luxury vehicles using DLS,” said Snow. Those production runs are around 2,000 vehicles per year. Car manufacturers and their suppliers are also using EOS processes in the Formula 1 industry for very small quantities.

Medical and dental uses for DLS are growing rapidly. The materials that have been developed for these applications, such as EOS PEEK HP3, are biocompatible and capable of being sterilized, since they withstand very high temperatures.

Laser sintered parts made of EOS PEEK HP3 have a continuous use temperature of 180 degrees for mechanical dynamic, 240 degrees for mechanical static, and 260 degrees for electrical. One of the highest-volume uses for making end-products is dental copings and crowns. Another is patient-matched cutting and drilling guides, such as for knee and hip replacements, which have been used in hospitals for the past three years. “In one hospital, surgeons reduced the number of operating trays per surgery from a dozen to one or two,” Snow said.

Source: Design News

28-11-11, 03:22 PM
French Senate Finance Amendment Derails Heron TP Programme

Posted on November 28, 2011 by The Editor

The French Senate Foreign Affairs, Armed Forces and Defence Committee has decided to cancel a large part of the financial provision for the next MALE UAS programme and allocate the saving towards the development of the Franco-British joint venture MALE programme for 2020.

The decision was non-partisan, with 33 votes in favour, two against and one abstention. It effectively cancels the Heron TP programme, which the government had initiated without tender in direct negotiations with importer Dassault and its sub-contractor IAI, Israel. Instead, the Committee recommends the purchase of 7 Reapers with 2 Ground Control Stations and a 10-year maintenance contract – the solution favoured by the French Air Force and troops on the ground in Afghanistan.

Here is a translation of an extract of the committee’s report:

There are two possible solutions to meet the armed forces MALE UAS requirement:

1.The Heron TP from IAI Israel, imported by Dassault
2.The American General Atomics Reaper

The Heron TP is a surveillance UAS that can be modified for combat. 7 examples have been produced. Use by French forces would require modification of the satellite link (Satcom) which links it to the ground segment. According to the proposal from IAI-Dassault in May 2011, the cost – without the French modifications – for 7 aircraft, 2 ground control stations and operational maintenance for 10 years would be €320M; the cost of adaptation for French use would be the subject of negotiations between Dassault, IAI and the French state. According to a report transmitted to the committee the total cost including the French modifications could run up to €370 M. The committee believes that this drone – with at the minimum a French satellite link – could not be operational, in the best of cases, in less than 3 years after placing the order.

More than 150 Reaper drones have been manufactured. It is a prowling and combat drone. It has six external pylons, which allow the carriage of a multipurpose weaponry (bombs & missiles), which gives it a real omni-role capacity. According to a proposal from General Atomics in May 2011, its cost – without French modifications – was for €209M. The EADS company would apparently be willing to undertake the French modifications, to the tune of 40% French, for an amount of €88M, bringing the total cost to €297M for 7 aircraft and 2 ground control stations and 10 years operational maintenance. The committee estimates that this drone could be operational within 2 to 3 years after placing order, irrespective if it receives the French modifications or not.

Moreover, it is important to know that the maintenance contract of the interim MALE drone or “Harfang”, which is currently deployed by the French forces, and is entrusted to the EADS company will expire in October 2013.

In July 2011, the Minister of Defence decided to start negations with the Dassault company to import the Heron TP. The 2012 budget includes credits for the payment of €2.3M and the authorisation for expenditure commitment of €318 M for something called “UAS – MALE”, destined to maintain the MALE capacity up to the arrival of the future MALE system, which is programmed, as a Franco-British cooperation, for the horizon of 2020-2022.

This decision to choose the Heron TP, without a tender process, is difficult to understand. It is financially unsound, militarily doubtful and industrially dangerous, as, according to the proposal of May 2011, the Dassault company will, besides the integration of the Satcom and supplementary sensors, only be responsible for the import, the certification and flight testing. Amongst others, this does not permit to satisfy the operational requirement until after the conclusion of the operational maintenance contract for the Harfang drone, which would lead to the creation of an operational capability gap.

The commission therefore proposes to reduce the budget by the same amount as the supplementary cost brought on by the choice of for the Heron TP drone – namely the budgeted €318 million less €209 million for purchase of the Reaper i.e. €109 million.

The committee proposes to make a provision of €29 million for obsolescence of the Harfang system, so that the final reduction would be €80M, which will be allocated towards the development of future MALE programme, and which would then directly benefit Dassault and/or EADS without involving IAI.

Source: French Senate Report

28-11-11, 03:33 PM
First Çaldıran Ready to Deploy in Turkey

Posted on November 28, 2011 by The Editor

Uploaded by TRAHMET on May 23, 2011
Baykar Caldiran Tactical UAV - İHA
website: http://www.baykarmakina.com/

The first Çaldıran, produced by the Turkish Kale Kalıp-Baykar joint venture, has already completed production and the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) will start to deploy it next week.

The joint venture won a contract to produce 12 UAS from the Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry (SSM). The Çaldıran is superior to other domestically manufactured UAS currently in use by the TSK. Çaldıran has a range of 1,200 kilometers, can fly at an altitude of 22,000 feet, can stay in the air for 12 hours, has a nine-foot wingspan and has thermal cameras with advanced viewing capacity for night and day.

The 11 remaining intelligence gathering aircraft will be delivered to the TSK in the next two years. The total cost of the contract is $24 million, TSK sources told Zaman.

Other UAS previously produced by the same industrial group, which have a range of 15 kilometers and flying speed of 55 knots-per-hour, collect intelligence in southeastern Turkey at the moment. At present 168 domestically produced UAS are used by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) for surveillance activities.

Source: Today’s Zaman

28-11-11, 11:20 PM
French, Germans Should Team on UAV: German Minister


Published: 28 Nov 2011 13:16

So the German Defence Ministry has become an EADS mouthpiece.............mein Gott vat ist die Welt coming to?!!

PARIS - Germany's junior defense minister is calling for France and Germany to cooperate on a common UAV program rather than pursue competing projects, business daily La Tribune reported Nov. 28.

Asked in an interview on what programs France and Germany should collaborate, Stéphane Beelemans said: "Drones, for example. The projects being studied in France and Germany reflect a split from the past.

"And I say it clearly in France and Germany to our companies. I don't believe in two projects of this scale at the European level. And I find it hard to believe there is the political will to realize two competing projects. There is enough political will to do a common project," he said, according to the paper.

There was no sense in having two different kinds of equipment, for reasons of interoperability, maintenance, use and budgets, he said.

The competing projects are the next-generation medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) Talarion advanced UAV, proposed by EADS to France, Germany and Spain; and the Telemos air vehicle from BAE Systems and Dassault, pitched to Britain and France.

EADS seeks a place at the top table in the Telemos project alongside BAE and Dassault, but Dassault will only consider a junior subcontractor role for the pan-European company, retaining leadership firmly in the hands of the Anglo-French team.

France, Germany and Spain paid for a 60 million euro ($79.5 million) risk-reduction study for the advanced UAV, but EADS has been unable to convert that into a development and production contract.

Work on a next-generation MALE drone is seen as vital to maintaining a design engineering capability in Europe's military aircraft sector in the absence of development for a manned jet fighter.

The Anglo-French military cooperation treaty calls for joint work on a new-generation MALE surveillance UAV, and collaboration on an unmanned combat aerial vehicle.

29-11-11, 06:19 AM
Photo Release -- Increased Test Productivity Lifts Off With First Flight of Second Northrop Grumman-Built X-47B Unmanned Aircraft

Expansion of Fleet Adds Momentum, Flexibility to Flight Test Program

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., Nov. 28, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) and the U.S. Navy will be able to increase the pace and productivity of the X-47B flight test program following the successful first flight Nov. 22 of the second air vehicle developed for the Navy's Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program.

Photos accompanying this release are available at: http://media.globenewswire.com/noc/mediagallery.html?pkgid=11142

The tailless, autonomous aircraft known as Air Vehicle 2 (AV-2) took off under hazy skies from Edwards Air Force Base at 12:43 p.m. PST, climbed rapidly to an altitude of 5,000 feet, flew several racetrack patterns over Rogers Dry Lake, then landed safely at 1:12 p.m.

"The successful addition of AV-2 to the fleet of X-47B test aircraft provides a critical inflection point for the UCAS-D program," said Carl Johnson, vice president and UCAS-D program manager for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector. "With two aircraft now available, we can increase the amount of aircraft performance data we gather, which will allow us to meet our required aircraft capability demonstration goals in a timely manner."

The availability of two test aircraft is particularly important, added Johnson, for helping the program maintain a satisfactory flight test rhythm as it begins transitioning X-47B aircraft to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., (Pax River) for shore-based carrier suitability testing. While one aircraft is being moved to Pax River – expected to occur by the end of 2011 – the other one will continue envelope expansion flight testing at Edwards.

The testing at Pax River is scheduled to begin in early 2012. It will include testing the X-47B's ability to conduct precision approaches to the carrier, and to perform arrested landings and "roll-out" catapult launches at land-based test facilities. The testing will also include flight testing precision navigation computers and new guidance, navigation and control software recently installed on both aircraft. The new suite of hardware and software will enable the X-47B to make precision landings on a moving carrier deck.

The X-47B is a computer-controlled unmanned aircraft system that takes off, flies a preprogrammed mission, and then returns to base – all in response to mouse clicks from a mission operator. The operator actively monitors the X-47B air vehicle's operation using simple situational awareness displays, but does not fly it via remote control, as some unmanned systems are operated.

The Navy awarded the UCAS-D prime contract to Northrop Grumman in August 2007. The contract calls for the development and flight testing of two strike-fighter-sized X-47B unmanned aircraft. In 2013, the program is scheduled to demonstrate the first carrier launches and recoveries by a tailless, unmanned, low-observable-relevant aircraft. Autonomous aerial refueling demonstrations are planned for 2014. For the latest X-47B news and information, please visit www.as.northropgrumman.com/products/nucasx47b/.

Northrop Grumman's UCAS-D joint industry team includes GKN Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, Pratt & Whitney, Eaton, General Electric, Hamilton Sundstrand, Dell, Honeywell, Goodrich, Moog, Wind River, Parker Aerospace and Rockwell Collins.

01-12-11, 05:24 AM
11-30-2011 18:17

Unmanned tilt-rotor vertical take-off aircraft unveiled

An unmanned tilt-rotor aircraft developed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) makes a demonstration flight at an aviation center in Goheung, South Jeolla Province, Wednesday. / Courtesy of KARI

By Jung Sung-ki

A state-funded aviation research institute unveiled an unmanned tilt-rotor aircraft Wednesday, making Korea one of the world’s few countries having the technology of vertical take-off and landing plane using helicopter-like rotors at the wingtips.

Currently, only a couple of countries, including the United States, Israel and the United Kingdom, have the tilt-rotor technology or are proceeding with that kind of programs.

The “transformer” unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) aircraft was developed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) affiliated with the Ministry of Knowledge Economy in cooperation with private defense companies, a KARI official said. The UAV project started in 2002.

“Normally a UAV is operated by remote control dozens or hundreds of kilometers away, so a convergence IT technology of data transmission and others is very important,” Park Kyun-je, head of KARI’s smart UAV development team, said after the tilt-rotor’s demonstration flight at an aviation center in Goheung, South Jeolla Province.

“We’ve secured that key technology of our own and that’s so meaningful in this development project,” he said, adding the Korean tilt-rotor aircraft is remote-controlled by 200 kilometers away.

The 5-meter-long, 7-meter-wide aircraft has a top cruise speed of 500 kilometers per hour, according to the researcher. Its fly-by-wire flight control system was developed by the domestic developers while rotor and drive systems were built under an international partnership. About 20 domestic companies participated in the UAV development. Among the major developers are LIG Nex1, Huneed Technologies and Youngpoong Electronics.

The UAV is to be used both for military and civil purposes, such as traffic controls and the prevention of forest fires as well as weather and environmental surveys, according to KARI officials.

Mass production is expected to begin in less than three years after more test trials on collision detection systems and flight speed are completed next March, they said.

The institute is also working on to downsize the aircraft to about 60 percent of its original form to develop a smaller variant dubbed TR-6X.

“The smart UAV can also be used as the platform for a personal air vehicle that is capable of door-to-door operations without a runway,” an official at the ministry said.

UAVs make up the world’s aerospace industry’s most dynamic growth sector, according to reports, as UAV spending is on pace to double during the next decade from current worldwide expenditures of $5.9 billion annually to $11.3 billion, totaling just more than $94 billion.

Experts say the growth in the UAV market will be driven by internal and external security threats, modernization initiatives and territorial disputes.

The United States is the biggest UAV market in the world and will account for 69 percent of procurement over the next decade, according to a March report released by Teal Group, a U.S. based private aerospace and defense research agency.

02-12-11, 02:34 AM

A Defense Technology Blog

BAE Picks Coax-Rotor AVX for Navy UAS Bid

Posted by Graham Warwick at 12/1/2011 9:25 AM CST

AVX Aircraft, the small Fort Worth-based company staffed mainly with former Bell Helicopter employees, has received another boost. A month or so ago it won an Army contract to compete against the big boys -- Bell Boeing, Boeing and Sikorsky -- to study concepts for the US Army's planned Joint Multi Role medium utility rotorcraft.

Now BAE Systems says it has teamed with AVX to bid for the US Navy's Medium-Range Maritime Unmanned Aircraft System (MRMUAS) -- an extended-endurance, multi-intelligence VTOL shipboard UAS planned for fielding in 2019. MRMUAS could also be the basis for the Army's planned Medium-Range Multi-Purpose UAS, if it becomes a joint program.

Photo: AVX

AVX's signature technology is the combination of coaxial rotors and ducted fans, for improved hover and forward-flight performance. The company continues to push the idea of upgrading the Army's Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warriors while it tries to raise the funding to build a technology demonstrator based on a commercial Bell 206.

For MRMUAS, the AVX-designed air vehicle would be integrated with BAE's autonomous mission systems and payloads. Other bidders are expected to include the Boeing A160 or Unmanned Little Bird, Northrop Grumman Fire-X (based on the Bell 407) and, from Sikorsky, either a new X2-based design or an optionally manned MH-60 Seahawk. BAE says it concluded a modified commercial or military helicopter wouldn't meet the Navy's requirements.

02-12-11, 03:16 AM
Sagem's Patroller completes flight testing

01 December 2011 - 16:33 by the Shephard News Team

I like this UAS/UAV as I strongly suspect it has relevance for Maritime Patrol...........I would have thought that for sure its cheaper to run than any Patrol twin prop whilst providing endurance that surpasses the same........the question then becomes whether it can effectively carry out the surveillance task, and thats a question of equipment rather than aircraft............

Sagem has announced the successful completion of a series of flight tests of its long endurance surveillance UAV, Patroller. According to the company, 14 tests were carried out in total from September 19 to October 21 at the Istres air force base in southern France.

The testing confirmed a of the aircraft's in-flight performance, including automated landings at a steep glide slope; integration of a new data link for taxiing, and a new, higher-performance imaging chain for target identification; and qualification of new flight control functions supporting degraded operating modes, as well as automated touchdowns in case of actuator or propulsion system failure.

According to the company, the redundant avionics suite showed a significant improvement in flight safety, enabling Patroller to receive authorization from French authorities to overfly densely populated zones in controlled airspace.

During the test programme the UAV was also operated over the Mediterranean Sea to test
operational maritime and coastal surveillance scenarios, representing missions for homeland security and to combat illegal immigration.

The Patroller UAV is designed for a wide range of defense and homeland security long-endurance surveillance missions. It is a medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) drone in the 1-ton class, based on an EASA-certified (European Aviation Safety Agency) aircraft. It capitalizes on technologies already developed by Sagem for the Sperwer Mk.II tactical drone, and field experience in Afghanistan. Patroller features a modular design, allowing it to carry different pod-mounted payloads, and offers flight endurance of 20 to more than 30 hours, at a maximum altitude of 25,000 feet.

According to the company, Sagem now expects to be able to deliver a complete, fully operational Patroller system within 12 to 18 months.

02-12-11, 03:20 PM
Indra Makes In Cadiz A Flight Demonstration of Its Unmanned Aircraft Pelicano and Mantis

(Source: Indra; issued Dec. 2, 2011)

Although not the first rotary-winged UAV to embark on a military vessel, and the company claims, Indra’s Pelicano is the company’s entry into the fast-growing market for unmanned helicopters to operate from small surface ships. (Indra photo)

In the framework of the European Robotics Week Indra has made a flight demo of two of its unmanned aircrafts: the Pelican helicopter and the Mantis plane, at Villamartin aerodrome (Cadiz).

The company demonstrated the capacities of Pelican, a system conceived for maritime surveillance, which will be ready to enter service by early 2012. The flight was autonomous from beginning to end; the pilot did not intervene in take-off, flight and landing. The system behaved according to a pre-established plan including manoeuvres at different speeds.

Pelican is the first rotary-wing UAV prepared to embark on a military vessel. The system is in the last development phase and during the test period Indra managed to configure it in such a way that the engine can use heavy fuel oil – non flammable - as it is an elementary requirement to go onboard a military vessel.

Besides this, Indra has carried out different tests with the electro optical system and has obtained high-definition imaging from great height and counter measured vibrations. The system with a top 50-kg payload can also carry other type of sensors such as electronic intelligence, CBRN or radars. The information received is transmitted in real time to the helicopter’s control station.

The Pelican system, with 6-hour autonomy, is built on the APID60 platform of Swedish company Cybaero. It can engage in different sorts of missions for instance: protection of bases and critical infrastructures, intelligence gathering, convoy protection, border surveillance, emergency management (forest fires, floods, technology disasters, etc.) and search and rescue on the coastal zone. It is also designed to patrol in the open sea, a very effective aspect in the struggle against piracy.

Seeing beyond

Regarding Mantis, Indra exhibited the capacities of the smallest model (2,10 meter wing) of the family of UAVs developed by the company. The system, ready to enter service, can be easy transported and operated by one or two people. A system of this type facilitates observation of movement in an operation range of around 30 kilometres.

The vehicle made an autonomous flight in accordance with a pre-established flight plan and explored the area with a gyro-stabilized electro-optical camera which submitted images in real time. From the ground control station, the operators followed the flight and received the images. The system is under customisation to incorporate a laser-accuracy landing system.

Indra in the European Robotics Week

The European Robotics Week will take place from the 28 of November to the 4 of December. The event is fostered by EUnited in Europe and it aims to popularise robotics and promote associated activities in the continent at all levels.

Among the events celebrated all over Spain Indra participated in the first workshop dedicated to investigation, development and education on Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) organised by FADA-CATEC/ University of Seville. At the event more than 50 articles elaborated by researches of nine countries were presented and several flight demos were made.

Unmanned vehicles are part of the new development lines of robotics. Robots are widely used in the industry to perform tasks in controlled environments, such as in assembly lines but the real technology challenge lies in the development of robots with the capacity to operate in areas such as cities, homes or open spaces. This new development line, including the unmanned systems, presents a great commercial potential in the upcoming years.

The main advantage of unmanned systems is the capacity to conduct repetitive and risky tasks for humans in an effective way at a reduced cost. Indra was one of the pioneering companies in the development of these systems and has led along with Cassidian the startup of the first tactical UAV system which the Spanish Army has used in a real scenario in Afghanistan.

Indra is the premier Information Technology company in Spain and a leading IT multinational in Europe and Latin America. It is ranked as the second European company in its sector according to investment in R&D with over EUR 500 M during the last three years. In 2010 revenues reached EUR 2,557 M and the international market already accounts for a 44%. The company employs more than 35,000 professionals and has clients in more than 110 countries.


03-12-11, 01:33 AM
Havoc UAS undertakes first flight

02 December 2011 - 18:16 by the Shephard News Team

Brock Technologies has announced that its Havoc Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) has undertaken its first flight on 24 October 2011. Brock Technologies made the announcement in a company statement, saying that the UAS will ‘bridge the gap between affordability and capability’.

The Havoc UAS was developed under a series of Air Force SBIR contracts. The twin boom, pusher 2-stroke engine platform was intended to provide users with a robust modular UAS capable of long endurance flights while carrying an assortment of payloads.

The test flight programme has so far seen the UAS undertake flights with two platforms with a variety of payloads. Swapping integrated forward payload bays between flights, Havoc successfully demonstrated video data transmission to the ground station, non-line-of-sight (NLOS) communications, Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) functionality, and vehicle identification through a mode C transponder and blind encoder.

According to the company, the second series of flight tests is to take place in November, when additional capabilities and endurance testing will be carried out.

Built using advanced composite construction, the radio frequency transparent Havoc airframe structure offers multiple internal antenna placement locations that enable increased endurance and payload capability. With 1000 watts of power provided by the onboard generator at its disposal the Havoc can host a variety of payloads in either the forward or aft payload bay. The tails are also hollow and offer additional space for payload integration. Variable launch and recovery options continue to illustrate the systems modularity. The current prototypes have demonstrated successful rolling take-offs and landings. Future renditions will validate additional launch and recovery methods such as catapult launching and belly skid landing.

06-12-11, 12:44 AM
Unmanned Combat Aircraft Tests Move Quickly

Dec 5, 2011

By Graham Warwick

Spring 2012 at NAS Patuxent River, Md., and an unusual shape joins the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters flying the pattern at the U.S. Navy’s test center. The tailless flying wing is Northrop Grumman’s X-47B unmanned combat air system demonstrator (UCAS-D), being prepared for autonomous landings on an aircraft carrier in 2013.

The Navy may be late to the unmanned-aircraft game, but it is pushing the technology in terms of both capability and autonomy. In addition to UCAS-D, the service is launching the Autonomous Aerial Cargo/Utility System (Aacus) program to prototype advanced capabilities for vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

Just as Aacus is expected to feed technology into the Navy’s program to deploy the shipborne VTOL Medium-Range Multi-Role UAS by 2019, UCAS will inform its plans to field the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike System (Uclass) by 2018, and develop a sixth-generation F/A-XX to replace the Boeing F/A-18E/F after 2030.

Operational studies under the UCAS program have shown that a long-endurance, aerial-refueled unmanned combat aircraft could significantly extend the surveillance and strike reach of a carrier battle group. But first the Navy must get comfortable with bringing an unmanned aircraft on to the flightdeck.

Though UCAS-D is a demonstration, and not a prototype for Uclass, the system architecture and operating concepts developed to enable the 44,000-lb. X-47B to land safely on a carrier—and particularly changes to the ship’s command-and-control system—could carry over.

The first of two X-47Bs completed Block 1 envelope-expansion flight tests at Edwards AFB, Calif., on Nov. 17, and air vehicle 1 (AV-1) is to be shipped to Pax River by year-end to begin Block 2 carrier-suitability testing, including land-based catapult launches and arrested landings. The second X-47B, AV-2, made its first flight at Edwards on Nov. 22.

In 16 sorties since its initial flight on Feb. 4, AV-1 has expanded the envelope to 220 kt. airspeed and 15,000 ft. altitude—a task that was originally expected to take a year and require 49 flights. “AV-2 will continue to expand the envelope, and when it ships [to Pax River] all the necessary corners to go to the carrier will have been cleared,” says Carl Johnson, Northrop Grumman vice president and UCAS-D program manager.

While gathering flying-qualities data, AV-1 has flown simulated carrier approaches at altitude. “All X-47B flight-test data look very good and will support our carrier demonstration objectives,” says Capt. Jaime Engdahl, Navy UCAS program manager. “We found no technical issues during any of the flights and it took considerably less flight time than predicted to execute all of our planned test points.” As a result, AV-2 could be moved to NAS Pax early, in spring 2012.

The speed of envelope expansion is due in part to the accuracy and predictability with which the 62.1-ft.-wingspan X-47B executes the preprogrammed test points. But it is also due to Northrop’s familiarly with its signature cranked-kite planform, and to extensive modeling and simulation. Engdahl says the aircraft simulation model accounts for about a third of the 3.4 million lines of software code for the UCAS-D program.

“The modeling and simulation is correlating so well with flight-test data that we can use it to add confidence and reduce on-aircraft testing. It significantly reduced the number of flights required to expand the envelope,” says Johnson. “The future for UAS with robust modeling and simulation is we will not have to fly the platform as much as manned systems, which are less predictable.”

“The aircraft is flying exactly the way the model said,” says Engdahl, adding no flight-control changes have been required. “Control-law development has been very robust,” agrees Johnson. “We’ve had no issues, but then our developers have quite a bit of experience with this planform design.”

Confidence in the aircraft’s behavior will be crucial at Pax, where the Lockheed Martin F-35B and C are being flight-tested and where disruption to normal operations when the X-47B is flying must be minimized. “When we begin flying there, operating an unmanned aircraft from an active naval air station, it will be a significant step forward,” says Johnson.

The Navy has experience operating the unmanned Global Hawk Maritime Demonstrator from Pax. “They started conservatively, keeping all other traffic away. As they became comfortable with the system, they gradually integrated it into the airspace,” he says, predicting “It won’t be too long before it will be hard to tell the X-47B from other flights.”

While the X-47B is conducting cats and traps at Pax, additional tests of two manned surrogates—a King Air and F/A‑18D equipped with UCAS-D avionics—will certify the software and systems for the 2013 demonstration. “We will install the system on the ship and take the King Air and F/A-18 out to certify the carrier, so when we plug in the X-47B it will be relatively seamless,” says Engdahl.

The F/A-18D surrogate conducted the first autonomous arrested landings on a carrier in July. During the at-sea tests, the aircraft made 36 approaches to the USS Eisenhower, 16 touch-and-go landings and six coupled approaches to arrested landings. All were conducted “hands off,” and in the same way the X-47B will land, but with a pilot onboard for safety and redundancy.

“We’ve exercised all the functionality with the surrogates,” says Engdahl. The Eisenhower tests included straight-in, or Case 1, instrument approaches where the unmanned system took over control 8 nm behind the ship; and visual, or Case 3, approaches where the system took over as the F/A-18 passed the carrier on the downwind leg and then turned the aircraft on to its final approach.

The autonomous landings demonstrated the precision-GPS ship-relative navigation technology at the heart of UCAS-D. The carrier sends its GPS position to the aircraft via a low-latency, high-integrity Tactical Targeting Network Technology data link. The aircraft, which has triple-redundant GPS/inertial navigation systems, calculates its position relative to the moving ship and guides itself to a touchdown on the flightdeck.

“Surrogate testing with the F/A-18 using prototype software validated the algorithms. Now we are turning it into production software to do all the rigorous qualification and certification testing required by Navair [Naval Air Systems Command], to ensure we have thought of every contingency,” says Johnson. “Over the next year we will go through the work-up to validate the software in the lab, on the vehicle and in flight.”

Surrogate trials also validated the distributed control concept, in which a UCAS mission operator on the ship always has positive control of the aircraft, but the carrier air traffic control (ATC) center, primary flight control (Pri-Fly) or “air boss” in the tower, and landing signals officer (LSO) on the flightdeck can send commands to the unmanned vehicle as they would to a manned aircraft.

“Over the last 10 years the Navy has been digitizing its carriers. ISIS—the integrated ship information system—has automated and digitized the information flow around the ship, so ATC and Pri-Fly can share a picture of who’s flying, how much gas they have, etc.,” says Engdahl. For UCAS-D, a ship interface processor is installed to act as gateway between the X-47B mission control element and the carrier network. This allows ATC to pull in data such as fuel state and send commands to the vehicle, while the UCAS mission operator has access to all ATC and deck information.

When the aircraft is inside the 50-nm-radius carrier control area, but outside 10 nm from the ship, ATC sends digital commands to the mission operator. The aircraft checks in with its position, airspeed and altitude, and ATC sends a message back with marshal position and push time. Inside visual range, control passes to the Pri-Fly, and the mission operator monitors as the tower sends messages to the aircraft and it automatically responds. On final approach, control passes to the LSO, who can hit the pickle switch and wave off the aircraft at any time without having to go through the tower, ATC or mission operator.

Key to the control philosophy is a level of air-vehicle autonomy beyond that in today’s unmanned aircraft. “UCAS-D represents a new generation of UAS due to the level of autonomy developed to do a carrier landing or automated aerial refueling,” says Johnson. “Other systems are remotely piloted, and only do what they are told from the ground. All the decisions are on the ground, and the system architecture makes it hard to move to a higher level of autonomy.

“With UCAS-D we start with a fundamentally different architecture that puts capability on the aircraft. We won’t release it all for flight test, but the architecture is designed for higher levels of autonomy we can use as we expand capability,” he says.

“The vehicle knows it needs to refuel and in a machine-to-machine process talks to the tanker and gets permission to move to the tanking position. It develops a relative-navigation coordinate system so it knows where the tanker is and uses that frame of reference to move itself to where it needs to be.”

Increasing levels of autonomy will be demonstrated as the X-47B moves from land-based testing to the carrier and eventually automated aerial refueling. “In land-based testing, it flies a validated mission plan in a fixed frame of reference. When we move to the ship it introduces additional variables the system must react to,” he says. “Ultimately we will look at inflight replanning permission. We will tell the vehicle where the tanker should be and it will adapt its mission to find the true position.”

As with envelope expansion, clearing the X-47B to land on a carrier is expected to benefit from the vehicle’s predictability. “A pilot can get off-nominal but, because of the digital interface with the ship and real-time updates to the vehicle, an unmanned aircraft is not going to get very far off track,” says Johnson. But as it will be the first tailless aircraft to land on a carrier, tests are focused on ensuring the X-47B has good flying qualities, says Engdahl.

At-sea testing will evaluate handling qualities in crosswinds and headwinds, control power as the vehicle passes though the airflow “burble” behind the carrier, touchdown dispersion on the deck and lateral dispersion on “bolter” touch-and-goes. More than one carrier is to be outfitted to work with the X-47B for the 2013 demo. “We will work with the carrier schedule to get as much test time as we can. That’s when it will get interesting,” Engdahl says.


06-12-11, 02:56 PM
Autonomous Deployment Demonstration Program Completes Flight Testing

(Source: Naval Research Laboratory; issued December 5, 2011)

WASHINGTON --- The Naval Research Laboratory Vehicle Research Section has successfully completed flight tests for the Autonomous Deployment Demonstration (ADD) program.

The final demonstration took place Sept. 1 at the Yuma Proving Grounds, Yuma, Ariz., and consisted of a series of eight balloon-drops at altitudes of up to 57,000 ft, delivering sensor-emplacement Close-In Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft (CICADA) vehicles within 15 feet of their intended landing locations.

The ADD concept is to enable small unmanned air vehicles (UAV) equipped with sensor payloads to be launched from aircraft (manned or unmanned), balloons, or precision-guided munitions, and dispersed in selectable patterns around designated areas.

"The mission profile is straight forward," says Chris Bovais, aeronautical engineer and flight test coordinator, NRL Vehicle Research Section. "The CICADA is dropped from another airborne platform, flies to a single waypoint, and then enters an orbit. It descends in that orbit until it reaches the ground."

The NRL developed CICADA Mark III UAV is a glider; it has no propulsion source onboard, therefore. It requires another airborne platform to get it to an altitude such that it can glide to its destination. Its lack of a motor and small size, make it nearly undetectable in flight.

The ADD field trials successfully demonstrate that the CICADA can perform a precision delivery of a notional payload after being dropped from a 'mother-ship' or being carried aloft by a balloon. Standoff distances of 30 nautical miles and altitudes up to 57,000 feet were demonstrated, with an average landing error of 15 feet from the commanded location.

During the demonstration, the UAV ensemble was lifted to altitude using balloons operated by Aerostar International. A UASUSA built Tempest UAV, with two CICADA vehicles attached on wing-mounted pylons, was carried aloft to altitudes approaching 60,000 feet. The Tempest mother ship was released from the balloon, autonomously executed a pull-up maneuver, and then carried the two CICADAs to a drop location. Each CICADA vehicle was then released from the mother ship and autonomously flew to the preprogrammed target waypoint.

"Many remote sensors are currently hand emplaced," said Bovais. "The CICADA allows for the low-cost delivery of multiple precision-located sensors without placing the warfighter in harm's way."

The CICADA Mark III is a unique vehicle. The airframe is simply a printed circuit board also serving as the autopilot, the first known multi-purpose airframe/avionics implementation of its kind. This novel construction method significantly reduces assembly time, minimizes wiring requirements, and enables the manufacture of low-cost and rugged micro air vehicles. The airframe shape is easily scaled to accommodate various payload sizes and potential acoustic, magnetic, chemical/biological and SIGINT sensors. Unique to this construction technique, additional electronic payloads can be inserted into the system by updating the printed circuit board artwork and 're-winging' the aircraft.

A custom autopilot for the CICADA, both hardware and software, was developed by the Vehicle Research Section to be both inexpensive and robust. The only flight sensors are a 5Hz GPS receiver and a two-axis gyroscope. Although having minimal sensors, the navigation solution and the flight controller proved to be quite robust during in-flight testing, routinely recovering from tumbling launches. The flight controller also included a custom NRL algorithm that accurately estimated wind speed and magnitude, despite having no air data sensors onboard.


07-12-11, 01:32 PM
New X-47B completes first flight

07 December 2011 - 10:53 by the Shephard News Team

The second X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) to be built has completed its first flight. Developed by the US Navy and Northrop Grumman and with GKN Aerospace fuselage and wing structure, the X-47B is currently undergoing a full flight testing programme.

GKN Aerospace has been contracted by the team to produce the tailless aircraft’s complex centre fuselage, wings, bay covers and actuated doors, all produced by GKN Aerospace, contain a lightweight aluminium, titanium or composite substructure that is covered by several hundred square feet of durable, light weight carbon reinforced composite skins. Each wing supports a spoiler flight control surface and hosts fully integrated electrical and hydraulic routings. The wing design also incorporates a fold capability that enables the air vehicle to achieve a smaller footprint for aircraft carrier stowage.

According to GKN Aerospace, the company’s teams at its development centre in Nashville, TN and manufacturing operation in St. Louis, MO used advanced design tools and analysis techniques, with state of the art production equipment, to develop and produce more than 650 high performance metallic and composite structures and assemblies for each aircraft.

07-12-11, 04:13 PM
U.S. Navy, Northrop Grumman Demonstrate First Manned-Unmanned Intel Sharing

(Source: Northrop Grumman Corp; issued December 6, 2011)

SAN DIEGO --- In a recent U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman exercise, a Fire Scout unmanned helicopter successfully sent sensor data to the cockpit display of a MH-60 helicopter.

The demonstration, which took place Oct. 25 near Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., paves the way for improving the speed at which field commanders can make informed decisions during military operations.

"Fire Scout complements the Navy's manned helicopters by effectively extending the range and area of ship-based intelligence gathering operations," said George Vardoulakis, vice president for tactical unmanned systems for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector.

Until now, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data gathered by Fire Scout has been sent to its host ship for further dissemination.

During the demonstration, crew members aboard a nearby U.S. Coast Guard boat also viewed Fire Scout's sensor data in real time using a remote terminal.

The capability also improves Fire Scout's communications relay function by allowing multiple units to share real-time information to coordinate actions without delay.

Fire Scout features a modular architecture that accommodates a variety of electro-optical, infrared and communications payloads. These payloads provide ground- and ship-based commanders with high levels of situational awareness and precision targeting support.

The system's ability to operate from all air-capable ships makes it particularly well suited for supporting littoral missions such as drug interdiction, search and rescue, antipiracy operations, reconnaissance and port security.

Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.


07-12-11, 05:02 PM
US Naval Research Laboratory Autonomous Deployment Demonstration Programme Completes Flight Testing

Posted on December 7, 2011 by The Editor

These are the pics missing from the original post at the top of this page................per the title above.....................

Tempest UAV airframe, designed and built by UASUSA, Boulder, Col., has a wingspan of nearly 10 feet and is constructed using fibreglass and carbon fibre composites

CICADA Mark III autonomous glider

Carried to altitude by balloon, the Tempest UAV with two wing mounted CICADA vehicles is released for flight to a 'drop' destination

08-12-11, 01:39 AM
Satellite images reveal secret Nevada UAV site

By: Zach Rosenberg Washington DC

1 hours ago


A new satellite image of an isolated airstrip in Nevada shows a secret but operational unmanned air vehicle (UAV) test facility. The Yucca Lake airfield, deep inside the heavily restricted Tonopah Test Range, is on land owned by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a division of the Department of Energy (DoE), but was constructed and operated by an undisclosed government customer.

The satellite image, taken in early 2011 and available on Google Maps, appears to show a roughly 5,200 ft (1,580m) asphalt runway and what appears to be a General Atomics MQ-1 Predator or MQ-9 Reaper UAV being towed on the parking ramp. The airfield has four hangers of varying sizes, including a hanger with clamshell doors that is characteristic of US UAV operations. Details of the airfield, including a parking lot, security perimeter and ongoing construction are clearly visible.

The hangers could accommodate a total of between 10-15 MQ-9 Reaper aircraft, according to Tim Brown, an imagery analyst with Globalsecurity.org.

© Google Maps

An earlier image, showing what appear to be a Pilatus PC-12 and Beechcraft King Air parked on the ramp, has fuelled speculation that the facility is used by Lockheed Martin. Lockheed operates at least two PC-12s that are often flown between the company's extensive Palmdale, California facility and Las Vegas-area airports. Though the company's aircraft have been seen at area public and military airports, sources indicate that aircraft bound for classified airfields often file flight plans for public airports, cancel them when nearby and proceed using visual flight rules (VFR), which are not tracked.

Several classified Lockheed UAVs, including the Polecat technology demonstrator and RQ-170 Sentinel, were tested at airfields on the range, though the specific airfields have not been disclosed. The RQ-170 is operated by US Air Force units at Creech AFB and Tonopah Test Range airfield, both nearby. Lockheed also manufactures the Hellfire missile, which is standard equipment on US Predator and Reaper aircraft.

Lockheed had no immediate comment.

© Google Maps

Though Predator-class aircraft are operated by several government and military agencies, one construction company involved with the Yucca Lake project lists it as a classified US Air Force installation. Yet Yucca Lake's isolation from other highly classified sites, including nearby Groom Lake and Tonopah Test Range in Nevada and Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, suggests that even normal military secrecy is insufficient.

One potential conclusion is that Yucca Lake is where the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) tests hardware and software for its large but classified UAVe programme. The CIA is known to operate Predator-class UAVs, amongst others. A covert CIA base at Shamsi, in Pakistan's Balochistan Province, was publically revealed when satellite images displayed three Predator aircraft and a clamshell hanger at the otherwise isolated airstrip.

The Yucca Lake airfield was constructed beginning around 2002, according to historical imagery of the facility, expanded from a much smaller facility and a small dirt runway. Though official requests for information draw little immediate response, scattered public sources of information are available.

A safety analysis of Yucca Mountain nuclear storage facilities, written by Bechtel SAIC, contains a description of the airfield: "The purpose of this facility is to construct, operate, and test a variety of unmanned aerial vehicles. Tests include, but are not limited to, airframe modifications, sensor operation, and onboard computer development. A small, manned chase plane is used to track the unmanned aerial vehicles."

Two DoE environmental studies provide further details, including operational details. According to those studies, the base operates four to six UAV flights and two to four manned flights per day, flying mainly over the dry lakebed at altitudes under 12,000ft (3,650m). The facility can accommodate up to 80 people, and facilities include sophisticated maintenance areas. One study notes that "the nature of the aircraft prevents using normal washing techniques. Aircraft would be wiped down by hand when cleaning is required." The same document references the construction of "Squadron Operations/Maintenance Facilities".

Predator aircraft, which have a sensitive skin coating, are cleaned by hand.

The runway shares the name and identifier of an old DoE dirt airstrip that was used to support nuclear testing during the Cold War. The larger dirt strip was deactivated in the 1960s, but FAA airfield records still show information for that runway, along with the notation, "owner desires airport not be charted."

DoE's Nevada facilities are frequently used for "work for others," including the Departments of Defense (DoD) and Homeland Security (DHS).

13-12-11, 01:14 AM
It Won’t Be Easy for Iran to Dissect, Copy U.S. Drone

By David Axe Email Author December 12, 2011 | 2:43 pm

Prepare the dissection table. Iran says it’s planning to disassemble its prized acquisition: a CIA-operated drone that apparently crashed in its territory. Its goal: to learn how the drone, apparently a stealth RQ-170 Sentinel, evades radar and how its top-secret sensors work. Which has the U.S. worried about Iran copying its advanced flying robot. ”There is the potential for reverse engineering, clearly,” U.S. Air Force Chief Gen. Norton Schwartz conceded.

But Iran will probably need help from arms exporters Russia and China in breaking down the flying-wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) — meaning the RQ-170′s secrets could ultimately fall into the hands of, well, pretty much every country with an interest in sticking it to Uncle Sam. Luckily for Washington, however, reverse-engineering a high-tech drone is easier said than done, according to two UAV designers who spoke to Danger Room on the condition we not print their names.

Late last week Iran released videos and photos (like the one above) purporting to show the captured Sentinel mostly intact. There are questions about the images’ authenticity. It’s possible Iran possesses a more-or-less undamaged RQ-170. But it’s also possible that they’ve got mostly debris on their hands. Obviously, the better the drone’s condition, the easier it will be to examine.

In any event, Iran probably lacks the technical know-how to dissect the flying robot on its own. But it may have some help from its friends — who would be eager to learn how the drone works for their own purposes. “In regard to reverse engineering, your best luck would be with the Chinese — and the Russians, to some extent,” says one engineer who has worked on advanced drones for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon’s fringe-science wing.

The Russians copied many of their early-Cold War weapons from Western designs. The Tupolev Tu-4 bomber, for instance, was based on captured American B-29s. While Russia has moved on to making homegrown gear, China still routinely copies military hardware. The new J-10 fighter is a reverse-engineered Israeli Lavi jet, and there are concerns China’s J-20 stealth-fighter prototype uses technology gleaned from a shot-down U.S. F-117 stealth fighter. Chinese engineers reportedly examined the wreckage of a U.S. stealth helicopter that crashed in Pakistan during the May raid to kill Osama bin Laden.

It’s assumed both countries have already sent experts to assist the Iranians. “The flights from Moscow and Beijing to Tehran were probably quite full the last few days,” P. W. Singer, from the Brookings Institution, told The New York Times.

The drone inspectors will start by studying the Sentinel’s basic construction, particularly the details of its radar-evading shape. “Anyone can copy the shape of the vehicle or figure out the optimal geometry,” says the other UAV designer, who worked on Boeing’s X-45, a contemporary of the Lockheed Martin-built RQ-170.

“Seam treatments” — that is, techniques for making welds undetectable to radar — “are somewhat of a secret, but not too hard for someone to figure out,” the Boeing engineer tells Danger Room. “Engines and routine things like that, no big deal,” the source adds. “However, exhaust ducting is another matter.” The drone’s tailpipe is probably made of carefully tailored materials, reflecting decades of cutting-edge research.

In other words, the Russian, Chinese and Iranian experts will probably try to figure out the “recipe” for the RQ-170′s alloys and non-metal composites, which help minimize the drone’s radar signature, as does its bat-like shape. And that’s where reverse-engineering starts to get complicated. “Someone will figure out the [materials'] composition,” the Boeing engineer explains, “but producing them is entirely a different matter.”

For the drone vivisectionists, it only gets worse. After examining the (alleged) RQ-170′s airframe, they will likely focus on its sensors. We don’t know for sure what devices the Sentinel carries, but it could include video cameras and a ground-mapping radar. The Darpa robot designer says the RQ-170′s radar — if it carries one — could share subsystems with the radars on the latest F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters, which might give U.S. adversaries some insight into how those planes operate, too.

But the designer isn’t too worried. “Even if [the radar] showed up completely intact, they may not know how to use it because they don’t know how to use the software.”

Moreover, the software includes classified anti-tamper measures. At least, it’s supposed to, according to the Boeing engineer. “Dumbest thing in the world if it didn’t.”

Bottom line: Tehran might discover that copying their captured CIA drone is harder than simply prying it apart.

Photo: via David Cenciotti

14-12-11, 04:26 AM
Sweden searches for Skylark replacement

13 December 2011 - 13:58 by Andrew White in London

Sweden’s Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) has released a request for proposals (RfP) as it looks to begin replacement of its fleet of Skylark UAVs.

According to official documents, the FMV is seeking a mini-UAV system in order to ‘support the Swedish Armed Forces with short range reconnaissance information’.

In 2007, the army procured six Elbit Systems Skylark I mini-UAVs. However, the FMV announced that operational requirements had been ‘revised’ taking into account lessons learned from operations with the UAVs over recent years.

‘Our intention is to complement and thereafter replace the Skylark system,’ the organisation said.

The number of UAVs required has yet to be disclosed but the FMV is looking to procure both a small and larger variant with associated common ground control stations.

It is seeking an off-the-shelf solution, although it has also published specific requirements relating to mapping systems, power supply and operating frequencies.

According to the FMV, the UAVs will be operated at platoon level and transported by ground vehicle. A single platoon system will comprise two small UAVs and a larger UAV, both with day and night sensors; two common control stations and batteries for up to nine hours of flight.

The UAVs will be capable of automatic take-off and landing and will be required to perform missions at altitudes up to 500m above ground level. The smaller variant requires an endurance of at least 45 minutes and an operational range of 10km. The larger variant will be required to operate for over 120 minutes at a range of 20km.

Swedish armed forces are expected to operate the UAVs at 400 flight hours per annum for a period of five years.

14-12-11, 05:58 PM
Autonomous Deployment Demonstration Program
Completes Flight Testing

12/5/2011 7:00 EST - NRL News Release 157-11r

Contact: Daniel Parry, (202) 767-2541

The Naval Research Laboratory Vehicle Research Section has successfully completed flight tests for the Autonomous Deployment Demonstration (ADD) program. The final demonstration took place Sept. 1 at the Yuma Proving Grounds, Yuma, Ariz., and consisted of a series of eight balloon-drops at altitudes of up to 57,000 ft, delivering sensor-emplacement Close-In Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft (CICADA) vehicles within 15 feet of their intended landing locations.

Carried to altitude by balloon, the Tempest UAV with two wing mounted CICADA vehicles is released for flight to a 'drop' destination.

The ADD concept is to enable small unmanned air vehicles (UAV) equipped with sensor payloads to be launched from aircraft (manned or unmanned), balloons, or precision guided munitions, and dispersed in selectable patterns around designated areas.

"The mission profile is straight forward," says Chris Bovais, aeronautical engineer and flight test coordinator, NRL Vehicle Research Section. "The CICADA is dropped from another airborne platform, flies to a single waypoint, and then enters an orbit. It descends in that orbit until it reaches the ground."

The NRL developed CICADA Mark III UAV is a glider; it has no propulsion source onboard, therefore. It requires another airborne platform to get it to an altitude such that it can glide to its destination. Its lack of a motor and small size, make it nearly undetectable in flight.

The ADD field trials successfully demonstrate that the CICADA can perform a precision delivery of a notional payload after being dropped from a 'mother-ship' or being carried aloft by a balloon. Standoff distances of 30 nautical miles and altitudes up to 57,000 feet were demonstrated, with an average landing error of 15 feet from the commanded location.

During the demonstration, the UAV ensemble was lifted to altitude using balloons operated by Aerostar International. A UASUSA built Tempest UAV, with two CICADA vehicles attached on wing-mounted pylons, was carried aloft to altitudes approaching 60,000 feet. The Tempest mother ship was released from the balloon, autonomously executed a pull-up maneuver, and then carried the two CICADAs to a drop location. Each CICADA vehicle was then released from the mother ship and autonomously flew to the preprogrammed target waypoint.

"Many remote sensors are currently hand emplaced," said Bovais. "The CICADA allows for the low-cost delivery of multiple precision-located sensors without placing the warfighter in harm's way."

The CICADA Mark III is a unique vehicle. The airframe is simply a printed circuit board also serving as the autopilot, the first known multi-purpose airframe/avionics implementation of its kind. This novel construction method significantly reduces assembly time, minimizes wiring requirements, and enables the manufacture of low-cost and rugged micro air vehicles. The airframe shape is easily scaled to accommodate various payload sizes and potential acoustic, magnetic, chemical/biological and SIGINT sensors. Unique to this construction technique, additional electronic payloads can be inserted into the system by updating the printed circuit board artwork and 're-winging' the aircraft.

A custom autopilot for the CICADA, both hardware and software, was developed by the Vehicle Research Section to be both inexpensive and robust. The only flight sensors are a 5Hz GPS receiver and a two-axis gyroscope. Although having minimal sensors, the navigation solution and the flight controller proved to be quite robust during in-flight testing, routinely recovering from tumbling launches. The flight controller also included a custom NRL algorithm that accurately estimated wind speed and magnitude, despite having no air data sensors onboard.

CICADA Mark III autonomous glider

The Autonomous Deployment Demonstration program team holds a Tempest UAV against two, CICADA Mark III gliders. Team members (left to right): Dave Gresham, YPG; Bill Cann, SAIC; Dan Edwards, NRL; Chris Bovais, NRL; Joseph Peynado, YPG; and Craig Mulloy, YPG. Not pictured: Aaron Kahn, NRL; Eric Peddicord, NRL; and Bob Eber, NRL.

A CICADA Mark III is carried beneath the left wing of the Tempest UAV at 53,000 feet, after release from the balloon and before releasing the CICADA.

The ADD test crew prepares to launch a weather balloon to carry the Tempest UAV and CICADA gliders to an altitude nearly 60,000 feet above the desert floor.

The Tempest UAV airframe, designed and built by UASUSA, Boulder, Col., has a wingspan of nearly 10 feet and is constructed using fiberglass and carbon fiber composites. Shown here, the Tempest holds a CICADA Mark III glider beneath each wing.

Tempest UAV releasing a CICADA Mark III glider from its left wing. A CICADA Mark II prototype is carried beneath the Tempest’s right wing.

15-12-11, 11:24 AM
DECEMBER 15, 2011.

U.S. Pursues Sale of Armed Drones.


The Obama administration has been quietly pushing to sell armed drones to key allies, but it has run into resistance from U.S. lawmakers concerned about the proliferation of technology and know-how.

The Pentagon wants more North Atlantic Treaty Organization members to have such pilotless aircraft to ease the burden on the U.S. in Afghanistan and in future conflicts like the alliance's air campaign in Libya this year.

Administration officials recently began informal consultations with lawmakers about prospective sales of armed drones and weapons systems to NATO members Italy and Turkey, while several U.S. allies in the Persian Gulf have been pressing Washington to authorize drone sales, officials said.

The Pentagon's proposed sales have set off a behind-the-scenes debate between the administration and some members of Congress over whether the U.S. should speed the spread of a technology that will allow other countries to carry out military strikes by remote control.

The growing debate comes at a time when human-rights groups are stepping up their campaign against the Obama administration's use of drones to kill suspected militants around the world.

Within the administration, military, Central Intelligence Agency and State Department officials have sparred over the scope of drone campaigns, which have expanded from Pakistan to Yemen and Somalia.

So far, the U.S. has sold unarmed drones to several countries, including Italy, but has only allowed sales of armed drones to Britain, citing its relationship with the U.S. and large troop presence in Afghanistan.

Republican and Democratic committee leaders have been pressing the administration to spell out its policy on drone exports. Outside experts, meanwhile, have urged the White House to start thinking about the broader implications of sharing a technology that could transform how a growing number of countries wage war.

The administration is required by law to notify key congressional committees about prospective arms sales. Congress generally signs off quickly when deals involve NATO allies, but officials say the proposed transfer of armed drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, faces added scrutiny.

Taking Off

Some countries that have or are developing armed drone aircraft

China: Development has been under way since mid-1990s. Early versions were built by reverse engineering a Northrop drone obtained from Vietnam in the late 1960s, U.S. experts say. A recent Defense Department report notes Beijing's push to develop longer-range unmanned aircraft, including armed drones.

India: Started buying drones from Israel in the mid-1990s and has been developing its own systems with Israeli help.

Iran: Tehran has ramped up domestic production and is likely to try to exploit technology from a stealth U.S. drone that went down in Iran this month.

Israel: A drone pioneer, Israel has surveillance and hunter-killer variants. Last year, it introduced a fleet of drones that can stay aloft for nearly a day and fly as far as the Persian Gulf.

Britain: Recently unveiled a stealthy combat prototype. The only nation to purchase armed drones from the U.S.

Turkey: Developing a longendurance drone comparable in size and payload to the Predator.

Source: Teal Group; WSJ research
"There are some military technologies that I believe should not be shared with other countries, regardless of how close our partnership," said Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat. "The United States should be trying to control the proliferation of certain weapons, and I would put armed UAVs in that category."

U.S. proliferation concerns were highlighted by the loss of a stealth U.S. surveillance drone in Iran this month. The U.S. fears Tehran will try to copy some of the technology, or will share the intelligence it collects with China and Russia to help them design similar stealth systems, U.S. officials and experts say.

Supporters of drone sales say that a U.S. refusal to sell the systems will encourage allies to develop their own versions of the aircraft. They could also buy armed drones from other countries developing similar capabilities, depriving the U.S. of export sales and jobs, supporters of such sales say.

Italy first made the case to arm its drones in order to better protect its forces in western Afghanistan. It renewed its request during the Libyan conflict.

A proposal to provide Italy with weapons systems and arms for up to six unarmed Reaper drones it already owns has been presented informally to key lawmakers but has yet to be submitted to Congress for review. The six-drone package was estimated to cost as much as $393 million.

The Reaper, which along with the Predator is made by General Atomics and is one of the most widely deployed U.S. drones, can carry more warheads than a Predator and can fly higher. Both can loiter for long periods so operators have more time to vet their targets for strikes using precision-guided munitions.

The cool congressional response in early discussions has slowed the Italian proposal, administration and congressional officials say.

Administration officials notified House and Senate oversight committees this week that formal submission of the Italy sale for congressional review would be delayed. The administration officials didn't explain why it was being held up. Officials said the administration intended to resubmit the package for consideration early next year.

Several key lawmakers have told the administration privately that they worry the sale could set a dangerous precedent that would make it harder for the U.S. to deny similar requests from other states.

"We're anticipating that the floodgates will open" if the Italy sale is approved, said a U.S. official briefed on the proposal.

A spokesman for the Italian Embassy in the U.S. declined to comment on the proposed sale.

The Pentagon also wants to sell Turkey up to two armed drones and four surveillance drones, according to officials briefed on the discussions. But they say the Turkey deal is unlikely to move forward if lawmakers refuse to sign off on the Italian sale.

Turkey wants to use the drones against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. The Pentagon has been sharing with Turkey real-time intelligence from U.S. drone missions in northern Iraq and along the border, helping Turkey's air force pinpoint PKK positions for strikes, U.S. officials say. Turkey wants to do the missions itself, a shift supported by the Pentagon.

Turkish officials are expected to press Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for updates on the proposed sale when he visits Turkey this week.

U.S. officials said that the deal could be a hard sell in Congress, where many lawmakers are concerned about the deterioration in Turkey's relationship with longtime ally Israel. Some lawmakers have threatened to block far less sensitive arms sales to Turkey to protest Ankara's stance toward Israel.

Several of America's allies in the Persian Gulf region are also pushing to purchase armed drones. U.S. officials say such requests could also prove controversial in Congress because of lawmakers' concerns about the potential impact on Israel's military edge in the region.

Lawmakers have told the administration they are concerned U.S. exports of armed drones could make it harder for Washington to make the case to Israel, a pioneer in drone development, to limit its own foreign sales of drones that could rival the U.S.'s. Israel already sells drones to India and other countries.

Some U.S. and Israeli drones have similar capabilities, while China has aggressively stepped up its own development efforts.

Supporters of the proposed sales say that providing armed drones to America's closest NATO allies would allow the alliance to increase its reconnaissance capabilities.

It would also improve its ability to conduct precise strikes, even in urban areas where the risk of collateral damage is high.

Advocates of the sales say U.S. allies would use drones to protect their forces in Afghanistan and to hunt down suspected terrorists, much as the U.S. does in hot spots around the world. Officials say the sales would also, over time, reduce NATO's dependence on the U.S. for drone capabilities.

U.S. officials, including Mr. Panetta, have complained that America's NATO allies haven't built up their own reconnaissance capabilities and are too dependent on the U.S.

Write to Adam Entous at adam.entous@wsj.com and Julian Barnes at Julian.Barnes@wsj.com

15-12-11, 11:42 AM
Dynetics SwiftSight Tablet Controller

Posted on December 15, 2011 by The Editor

Uploaded by ALRUFF on Dec 11, 2011
Here, we demonstrate the automated tablet flight capabilities of the SwiftSight Unmanned Aerial System. This system, developed by Dynetics, represents a new level of ease of use and construction for law enforcement officers, military personnel, emergency responders and hobbyists alike.
This video demonstrates the automated tablet flight capabilities of the SwiftSight Unmanned Aircraft System.

This system, developed by Dynetics, represents ease of use and construction for law enforcement officers, military personnel, emergency responders and hobbyists alike.

Source: YouTube