Although already deployed on operations to meet urgent needs, the Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned surveillance helicopter has reliability and sustainability problems that have delayed its regular fielding. An updated selected acquisition report (SAR) obtained by InsideDefense.com reveals that both the initial operational capability and the full-rate production decision have been delayed by about two years until May or June 2014.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
News and issues relating to civil and military unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) of all kinds and sizes, including those used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), combat (unmanned combat air vehicles, or UCAVs), law enforcement, research and other applications. Of particular focus is the FAA's planned integration of UAS into the U.S. national airspace system.
The U.S. trade organization representing the unmanned systems industry stepped up pressure on the FAA to select six test ranges for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) as required by the FAA reauthorization act signed into law in February.
UAV Navigation, a developer of flight-control avionics and motion sensors for unmanned aircraft, said it demonstrated its LCAP autopilot system in a “sea-skimming” target UAV designed to mimic the threat of an incoming missile.
Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy completed the first shore-based trials in early November of a wireless handheld device that will enable operators to maneuver the X-47B unmanned combat air system (UCAS) on Navy carrier decks. The tests were conducted at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.
A manufacturer of small UAVs said it was awarded the first permit from the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (Enac) to operate a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) in non-segregated airspace. Aermatica, of Venegono Superiore, Italy, said it obtained the permit for its Anteos RPA, a battery-powered quadcopter.
General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems and the U.S. Army have demonstrated a precision-guided mortar for use on small UAVs. The test, conducted under the Army’s Air Drop Mortar program, was intended to show a rapid target response capability sought by the Army, Marine Corps and special forces.
The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) awarded a $10 million contract to Boeing’s Phantom Works research and development unit last month to study a long-endurance, autonomous UAV for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions and potentially for strike capability. The four-year study of Boeing’s Dominator UAV will also investigate carriage of the Textron Common Smart Submunition (CSS).
In the last few days Selex Galileo has flight-tested its Falco UAV for the first time with the company’s Gabbiano T20N radar installed. Typically the Falco carries the Selex Galileo PicoSAR multi-mode AESA radar in the nose, but the Gabbiano provides an option giving enhanced maritime capability.
Northrop Grumman has improved the range and reduced the weight of its AN/ZPY-1 StarLite multimode surveillance radar, which the company is proposing as a sensor for the U.S. Army’s RQ-7B Shadow, the Navy’s future MQ-8C Fire Scout and other manned and unmanned aircraft.
The U.S. Department of Transportation inspector general’s office is evaluating the FAA’s progress toward integrating unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the national airspace system.