The U.S. Navy is rethinking prime contractor Northrop Grumman’s selection of an Exelis-built collision avoidance radar for the unmanned MQ-4C Triton maritime surveillance aircraft. The plan was to fit the Global Hawk derivative with the first Department of Defense (DOD) program of record “sense-and-avoid” radar, to comply with international airspace requirements and prevent midair collisions. However, “we’ve made a decision to pause on the development of that capability,” Capt. James Hoke, the Navy’s Triton program manager, said at the Unmanned Systems 2013 conference in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (Navair) and Northrop Grumman said the MQ-4C Triton broad area maritime surveillance aircraft completed its first flight from the company’s Palmdale, Calif., manufacturing facility on May 22. The Global Hawk maritime derivative flew for 80 minutes in restricted airspace and reached an altitude of 20,000 feet.
Aurora Flight Sciences is displaying its Diamond DA42 optionally piloted aircraft (OPA) on the Diamond Aircraft stand here (OE18). The low-cost intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) solution is compatible with NATO standards, and “combines the best of manned and unmanned surveillance aircraft capabilities,” said U.S.-based Aurora.
Called the Centaur, the OPA can be self-deployed, as its ground control equipment fits in the aircraft’s cargo compartment. Conversion from manned to unmanned-configuration takes two crewmembers less than four hours.
As UAVs become more prevalent, their capabilities will continue to develop. If you haven’t seen the videos demonstrating the nano-quadrotor UAVs under development at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, then you are missing something.