The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency is displaying the Guardian, a maritime variant of the MQ-9 Predator B unmanned aircraft system (UAS) at the Paris Air Show.
Israeli sensor specialist Controp Precision Technologies (Hall 3 C17) is displaying a range of its advanced electro-optic/infrared/laser payloads, including several new products. The latest payloads are tailored for use with UAVs, and also for aerostat applications.
Innovative engineering in small companies has been responsible for many of today’s unmanned aerial vehicle developments in the U.S. One such company is Cloud Cap Technology, based in Hood River, Oregon. It provides low-cost autopilots and gimbals to a variety of small, mostly unmanned platforms.
Stratospheric UAVs–mostly airships–that stay airborne flying for months or years will form a new communications and sensing infrastructure, according to the Market Intel Group (www.marketintelgroup.com). Government contracts are funding development of such UAVs at present, but commercial markets will eventually dwarf defense requirements.
L-3 Communications has confirmed plans to more than double the size of its Mobius optionally manned aircraft. The new version will be 140 percent larger to allow for a two-seat manned configuration. The second seat can be occupied by a second pilot and/or sensor operator.
The existing development model has a maximum takeoff weight of 3,000 pounds and a wingspan of almost 27 feet.
In a significant move, the U.S. government has cleared an unarmed version of the Predator UAV for wider export, including to the Middle East. Until now, the Predator and Reaper series has been exported only to the UK and Italy, and offered to a few other U.S. allies. Long-endurance UAVs are included in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MCTR), a voluntary 34-nation agreement.
When it comes to defense coverage, AIN naturally focuses on airborne systems and platforms, including some very high-tech stuff, of course. But my visit to the Defence Geospatial Intelligence Conference and Exhibitionin London last month was a reminder that what happens on the ground is equally, if not more, important.
Do UAVs threaten civil pilot careers? That’s the question that AIN posed to several attendees at a recent conference in Montreal, sponsored by industry trade group Unmanned Systems Canada. The answer: it seems unlikely, other than for young pilots just setting out on their careers, or a small number of pilots flying specialized applications.
Responding to public complaints from Pentagon officials about the cost and progress of the Global Hawk program, Northrop Grumman has provided a robust defense.
AeroVironment has become the first company to fly a stratospheric, very-long-endurance UAV as part of the U.S. government’s Global Observer initiative. The 175-foot-wingspan aircraft took off from Edwards Air Force Base on August 5 and flew for one hour, reaching 4,000 feet.