The Unmanned Systems 2013 event in Washington D.C., last week attracted 600 exhibitors and more than 8,100 attendees, according to organizer the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). Among many briefings were two by U.S. Navy officials that described progress with the Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Triton high-altitude surveillance UAV and the unmanned carrier-launched airborne surveillance and strike system (UClass). Exhibitors included Unmanned Systems Group, which recently combined with Swiss UAV. Other news from the event included the identification of the Spanish Navy as the first customer for the Saab Skeldar rotary-wing UAS. Saab announced last month that it had signed a contract to deploy the system for maritime operations but did not identify the customer.
Meanwhile, it emerged that operations in Afghanistan of another rotary UAS, the cargo-hauling Lockheed Martin K-Max system, were suspended in early June after a crash. Problems with the hoist-mounted load are thought to be the cause, and flights could resume shortly.
The U.S. Marine Corps described a timetable for introducing the Insitu RQ-21A Integrator, winner of the small tactical UAS (STUAS) competition. The initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) will start in late October, followed by deployment later in 2014. AeroVironment said that it made a nine-hour test flight with a solar-powered version of its Puma UAV.
Also reported during the AUVSI event was a $36 million, three-year trial contract gained by Selex ES to supply a Falco UAV to the United Nations to support peacekeeping in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The trial will help UN troops to monitor armed groups and protect the civilian population, the UN said.