A Bigger BAT is on the Loose

Following its plan to expand the former Killer-Bee platform it acquired from Swift Engineering in 2009 into a family of UAVs, last month Northrop Grumman flew the first in a new series of BAT unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The unmanned vehicle that flew in January 2010 was the BAT-12, a new, 12-foot wingspan (3.65 m') version powered by a German engine made by Göbler-Hirthmotoren, originally designed for ultra-light aircraft. The BAT-12 uses a five-blade propeller, contributing to low acoustic signature of the platform. The system was also tested with a new mission payload, comprising stabilized Short Wave Infrared (SWIR) and miniature Synthetic Aperture radar (NanoSAR). The company has already tested the BAT flying airborne radio relay, among other mission profiles. (read more....)

Poland is Buying Israeli Aerostar UAVs

Poland has selected Israel's Aeronautics Defense Systems to fulfilling an urgent operational requirement equipping Polish forces supporting ISAF in Afghanistan. Under the new contract, at an estimated worth of $30 million, Aeronautics will deliver two small unmanned systems, each comprising four Aerostar unmanned aircraft, ground control station and autonomous take-off and landing equipment. The first system will arrive in Afghanistan's Ghazni province by mid-year while the other will be used for training in Poland. Poland has already a number of smaller 'Orbiter' man-portable mini UAVs operated by its forces in AFghanistan. The current Aerostar model is designed for mission endurance of 10 hours, operating at distances up to 200 km from its ground station. Aerostar UAVs are already operational in the province of Uruzgan in Afghanistan. The Dutch government has leased these aircraft from Aeronautics to support the Dutch forces in the country. The Dutch contingent is scheduled to leave Afghanistan in August.

More Incentives for USAF UAV 'Air Crews'

The U.S. Air Force is increasing the incentive pay for pilots and operators of unmanned vehicles, matching current aviation incentive pay programs. According to Air Force officials, the new plan is available to Airmen in the officer 18X Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) pilot or the new enlisted 1UOX1 RPA sensor operator career fields. Until recently RPAs were the only airframes where an enlisted member of the crew wasn't receiving an incentive pay specifically paid for their aviation duties. Moreover, sensor operator position was often an additional duty for imagery analysis Airmen. The Air Force wants these airmen to devote to this important role and stay in this specific career field. Currently has slightly more than 400 Airmen in the RPA career fields, but the number is expected to rise to more than 1,000 as the need for more combat air patrols increases over the next few years. As these incentives scale with an Airman's time within the career fields, the increased pay will be considered an incentive to attract and retain Airmen who dedicate themselves to operating RPAs.

Elbit Systems Unveils Intelligence Center for UAVs

Elbit Systems is developing multi-sensor fusion and display systems integrated new an 'Intelligence Management Center' (IMC), enabling users of unmanned systems to control missions involving multiple sensors. Elements of the new center have already been ordered by several customers, to enhance the operational management of UAV assets, improve training and development of operational doctrine, and better integrate UAVs with other missions. (read more...)

FireScout Demonstrates Unique Capabilities during Army Experiment

Participating in the U.S. Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE) at Fort Benning, Ga. Last month, Northrop Grumman's MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned system demonstrated new mission capabilities provided by rotary-wing UAVs. Among the missions demonstrated by the Fire Scout were cargo delivery, force protection, area surveillance reconnaissance, and target acquisition (RSTA), broadband networking and communications relay. (read more...)

Unmanned Cargo Lifters

The Marine Corps is nearing a decision about the deployment of unmanned air systems to resupply forward units in Afghanistan, replacing some of the convoys moving on the dangerous roads there. The Marines are evaluating three platforms – the Kaman K-MAX helicopter or Boeing A160 Hummingbird. The MQ-8B, which was not included in the preliminary evaluation, could also be considered, given the platform's maturity with the U.S. Navy. The cargo carrying capability of the FireScout was recently performed by Northrop Grumman, demonstrating an autonomous resupply capability for the army. (read more...)

Armed Scouts to Become Unmanned?

The US Army is considering options to replace the Bell OH-58 Kiowa Warrior scout helicopters with 'optionally piloted' helicopters, enabling part of the scout missions to be performed by unmanned assets. Plans to replace the OH-58 were stalled in 2004, with the cancellation of the RAH-66 Comanche program and in 2008, with the termination of the Bell ARH-70 Arapaho armed scout. The current plan to field an Armed Aerial Scout (AAH) is in the planning, with teams from EADS/Lockheed Martin offering a version of the H-72 Lacota designated AS645, and Boeing offering the AH-6S. Boeing has also tested a variant of the AH-6, dubbed 'Unmanned Little Bird' (ULB) as an optionally unmanned helicopter. Boeing is already working on a closely integrated 'manned-unmanned teaming' employing the Apache Block III. Operated either as a forward scout or light strike platform, the AAS concept could provide more capabilities than today's Kiowa Warriors, especially as strike missions are increasingly performed by unmanned assets.

Israel Fields Third UAV Squadron for Strategic Roles

Israel's Air Force (IAF) has formally accepted today the Eitan ( Heron TP) unmanned aircraft – the largest UAV built in Israel, and the second largest operational UAV in the world. 210 Squadron operating from Tel Nof Air Force base was established specifically for this unique new aircraft. While Eitan is a new aircraft, considered to be among the world's most ophisticated unmanned aircraft, it is answering an operational specification, defined by the IAF over 15 years ago. (read more...)

France Evaluates S-100 VTUAVs for Land, Coastal, Urban Roles

The French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) will evaluate the Camcopter S-100 Schiebel for the VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) UAV system. As part of the test plan, taking place in the first half of 2010 DGA will evaluate the performance of the UAV over land, in urban terrain and in coastal operations, operated by the French Army and Navy. Thales and Schiebel have partnered to promote the S-100 in the French market and are working together to support the trials. On these tests the Camcopter S-100 is being fitted with a Thales Agile 2 Electro Optical and Infra Red (EO/IR) payload.

 

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