In response to increased scrutiny of armed UAV operations by human rights groups, British legislators and the United Nations, the British Ministry of Defence (UK MoD) has stepped up efforts to reassure the public. Late last year, it allowed media (including AIN) access to the Royal Air Force Reaper ground control station (GCS) at RAF Waddington for the first time. New documents describing UK operational procedures, including targeting, have been released. The UK is one of only three countries to have fired weapons from UAVs in combat, the others being Israel and the U.S.
General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) recently reported on a second flying demonstration of an MQ-9 Reaper in the electronic warfare (EW) role. The UAV flew with the Northrop Grumman Pandora EW system inside special pods designed by GA-ASI. The combination flew from MCAS Yuma, Ariz., last April and again in October during a Marine Corps exercise.
A General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper crashed into Lake Ontario November 13 after a satellite link to the drone failed. The Reaper was being operated by the 174th Attack Wing from Wheeler Sack Army Airfield at Fort Drum, N.Y., in military controlled airspace above 18,000 feet when control was lost. Another drone, an MQ-1B Predator, crashed at Holloman AFB New Mexico a month ago.
An MQ-1 Predator UAV supported firefighters in their efforts to control the huge California Rim Fire in August-September, according to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI). The company noted that the UAV’s more-than-24-hour endurance offered a “value-added capability” over helicopters, which ground commanders had relied on previously but are required to refuel every two hours.
The Pentagon approved full-rate production of the MQ-1C Gray Eagle multi-role unmanned aircraft on July 26. That same day, manufacturer General Atomics reported the first flight of an improved version of the aircraft that it will demonstrate to the U.S. Army later this year.
Europe should stop trying to build a “me-too” version of the Reaper Male unmanned aircraft system (UAS) and concentrate instead on a stealthy unmanned combat air system (UCAS), because the U.S. will not export that technology. That was the advice offered at the Paris Air Show yesterday by Frank Pace, president of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (Hall 3 Stand A82).
Tinker Air Force Base near Oklahoma City, Okla., the state’s largest single-site employer with some 20,000 civilian employees, is preparing for a lead role in the maintenance, repair and overhaul of U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin testing and evaluating small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) this month near Lawton, Oklahoma, under a federal and state initiative to study UAS applications for emergency response. The DHS is also considering the use of small UAS by its constituent organizations: the Coast Guard and the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agency.
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