Unmanned Systems News - May 2010

Photo above: a Hermes 90 (Storm) small unmanned vehicle seen on a first flight test with the Micro CoMPASS integrated EO payload. THis system is currently being offered for the US Navy/USMC STUAS program. (Photo: Elbit Systems)


Air Force Readies new Tactical, Endurance UAVs for Afghanistan

The US Air Force Research Laboratory has awarded a contract worth $13.1 million to Aero Mech Engineering, to deliver a new type of unmanned aerial vehicle optimized for route surveillance, spotting suspected IED locations along the operational routes in Afghanistan. Four of these stealthy looking drones, known as Sand Dragon, will be sent for field evaluation in Afghanistan as soon as they are completed toward the end of 2010. (read more...)

Boeing Unveils the Phantom Ray UCAV Technology Demonstrator

Boeing has unveiled the new, fighter-sized 50 foot span experimental unmanned Phantom Ray – a test bed for advanced Unmanned Combat Aerial System (UCAS) technologies. Phantom Ray is designed to support potential missions that may include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; suppression of enemy air defenses; electronic attack; strike; and autonomous aerial refueling. (Read more... )

General Atomics Proposes Carrier-Based Avenger to the U.S. Navy

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. is proposing a new carrier-based derivative of the Predator C (Avenger) known as 'Sea Avenger', designed to address the U.S. Navy's unmanned carrier-launched airborne surveillance and strike (UCLASS) system requirement. (Read more...)

Improving the Shadow

The U.S. Army is enhancing the RQ-7B Shadow Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems (TUAS), preparing the drone to carry out precision strike missions, in addition to its traditional ISR role. The enhancement package includes larger wings, new EO payloads, fitted with laser designators, improved propulsion systems, new tactical common data-link, radio relays and optional carriage of external stores, including lightweight weapons. (read more…)

UAS Dynamics Demonstrates Common Data Link with the STORM

UAS Dynamics, LLC, validated the performance of the Ku-band Common Data Link (CDL) on its STORM unmanned aerial system (UAS) during flight testing conducted in late March at the Yuma Proving Grounds in Yuma, Ariz.  The flight tests also validated features of STORM’s system architecture that enable data from the on-board payloads to be accessed by remote users in real-time over a secure Ethernet connection to the ground control station. The company is offering the STORM to the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps’ small tactical unmanned aerial system (STUAS) competition. (Read more on the Storm)

Israel's Hermes Fleet Enhanced With Additional '450, New '900 Platforms

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is expanding its Hermes UAV fleet with the procurement of additional Hermes-900 and Hermes 450 UAVs, as part of a $50 million acquisition program. Under the contract, Elbit Systems will supply the IDF with additional platforms over a period of three years. (More about the Hemes UAV)

Turkish Indigenous MALE UAV Unveiled

Addressing the growing demand for tactical, medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAV platforms TAI (Turkish Aerospace Industries) has unveiled its latest UAV called TIHA. The new TIHA weighs 1,500 kg (Maximum takeoff weight) and has a wingspan of 17 meters. Configured to carry multiple payloads weighing up to 250 kg, the TIHA carries 250 kg of fuel, enabling a 24 hour mission missions at an altitude of 30,000 feet. The TIHA will be able to cruising at a speed of 250 knots. A larger version capable of carrying more than twice the payload (3.5 tons), including laser guided rockets and missiles. (read more...)

Northrop Grumman, Bell Helicopters Introduce the Fire-X VT-UAV

Northrop Grumman and Bell Helicopter have teamed to demonstrate a new medium-range vertical unmanned system called 'Fire-X'. This new UAV will be larger than the Fire-Scout currently produced by Northrop Grumman, utilizing the four-blade FAA-approved Bell-407 helicopter platform. The Fire-X will be capable of carrying payloads weighing up to 1.5 tons on missions extending over 14 hours. First flight of Fire-X is expected by the end of 2010. The development and demonstration program is being funded entirely by Northrop Grumman and Bell Helicopter. The new system also represents Northrop Grumman's entry in an anticipated U.S. Navy competition in 2011 to demonstrate a new medium-range UAS. (More on Fire-X...)

Farnborough Intl. to Launch a UAV Flight Display at This Year's Airshow

This year the Farnborough International Airshow (FIA), will include flight demonstration of unmanned aerial vehicles, both indoor and outdoor, as a regular part of the flight display program. The organizers have secured an agreement, in principle, from the CAA and Airport authorities to allow Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to approve this initiative. To enable the flight of unmanned vehicles, a set of guidelines have been developed detailing the rules and regulations required to be approved for flying both indoor and outdoor UAS’s at the airshow this year. The organizers are planning to dedicate 30 minute for the UAS display prior to the start of the flying display. (read more...)

More Ravens for the U.S. Army

AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ:AVAV) announced it received an order valued over $11million under an existing contract with the U.S. Army. The order comprises 63 new digital Raven small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), services supporting the Army’s evaluation of the small UAS Family of Systems concept and additional engineering services. Each Raven system typically consists of three aircraft, two ground control stations and spares. (Read More...)

U.S. Army Inspects Advanced ScanEagle Capabilities

An advanced version of the Scan Eagle UAV, powered by a heavy fuel engine and equipped with digital datalink was recently demonstrated to U.S. Army personnel at Fort Rucker, Alabama. The experiment conducted in conjunction with the Joint Systems Integration Laboratory (JSIL) demonstrated the interoperability between the ScanEagle sensors and current Army equipment – the U.S. Army’s One System Remote Video Terminal (OSRVT) that displayed the Scan Eagle's digital video and metadata transmitted over encrypted data feed.

New Propellers Could Make Small UAVs Stealthier

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is looking for means to reduce the acoustic signature of such UAVs. As part of this effort AFRL selected Aurora Flight Sciences to develop an innovative propeller design software code that combines existing acoustic, aerodynamic, and stress codes into a single executable unit. Such a system would have potential for designing SUAVs that are significantly harder to detect, along with improved aerodynamic performance, thereby providing much greater protection and safety for valuable SUAVs. (Read more about this technology)

Energy scavenging System Could Power Future Unmanned Systems

Another new start at Aurora is an integrated power scavenging system, integrating solar cells and infrared photovoltaic cells, designed to generate power in daylight and night time. The power generated by the cells will be stored with custom built thin-film lithium batteries. This energy scavenging and storage system will be optimized for use with portable electronics, unmanned vehicles, and weapons systems. (Read more...)

Autonomous Vehicle Navigation Systems (ANS) Matured

Following over 2,000 lab and field tests the Autonomous Navigation System (ANS) under development at General Dynamics Robotic Systems for the U.S. Army has passed the Critical Design Review milestone in March 2010 and is moving to prototype fabrication phase, toward integration and initial testing on a prototype Armed Robotic Vehicle (ARV) in 2011. The Army's future robotic platforms and the seven Manned Ground Vehicles (MGV), as part of the Future Combat Systems (FCS) program, the $237 ANS program has sofar survived the termination of the FCS and is fully funded through 2013. (more about the ANS...)

The Army's First Combat Robot - Operational by 2015

Light combat brigades could be fielded by 2015 as part of the U.S. Army Brigade Modernization Plan. The Armed Robotic Vehicle-Assault (Light) (ARV-A-L) currently in development, could be ready for operation by 2014 and is currently planned for delivery to the first brigades by the years 2014-2015. (Read the ARV story...)


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