In the wake of the Euro Hawk cancellation in Germany, the future of the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) system based on the similar Northrop Grumman Global Hawk UAV is in doubt. Germany intends to offer for AGS whatever alternative platform it decides to employ for the Cassidian integrated signals intelligence system (ISIS) that was the payload on the Euro Hawk. The Royal Air Force Raytheon Sentinel R.1 ground surveillance aircraft is also on offer.
Boeing said the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is the first payload customer for its Phantom Eye high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft system. On June 5, the Department of Defense (DOD) agency announced a $6.8 million contract modification with Boeing to incorporate an unspecified payload aboard future test flights of the aircraft.
At an unmanned vehicles forum in Bonn this week, EADS Cassidian was again promoting what it now calls a Future European Male (Female) system. But the prospects of a pan-European program to match or improve on Male (medium-altitude long-endurance) UAV offerings from Israel, the U.S. and elsewhere have receded. France has decided to buy two GA-ASI Reaper systems, and there are indications that the UK will retain its Reapers beyond 2015, rather than retire them upon leaving Afghanistan.
The German Ministry of Defence abruptly canceled plans to introduce a fleet of five Northrop Grumman RQ-4E Euro Hawk UAVs for high-altitude Sigint collection. The first aircraft, delivered in July 2011, was already flying on development tasks from Manching airbase near Munich. According to German media reports, the country has already spent €508 million of the planned €1.2 billion (in 2012 prices) to acquire the fleet, which was intended to replace aging Atlantic manned twin turboprops.
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.
The RQ-21A small tactical UAS (STUAS) that Boeing Insitu is developing for the U.S. Marine Corps achieved Milestone C approval from the Naval Air Systems Command (Navair) on May 15, allowing the program to transition to low-rate initial production (LRIP).
Germany’s Federal Ministry of Defense (MoD) as a cost-cutting measure will not buy four production models of the RQ-4E Euro Hawk unmanned aircraft system as planned. The MoD’s decision to stop the program after acquiring one demonstrator aircraft was disclosed earlier this week. During a parliamentary debate, Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere said of the decision: “We prefer to pull the plug.
Integration of remotely piloted air systems (RPAS, or unmanned air systems) into non-segregated airspace in Europe has moved a step closer with the latest test flight in the Desire project (Demonstration of Satellites enabling the Insertion of RPAS in Europe). The project is funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Defence Agency (EDA) and led by Indra of Spain.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is playing a prominent role in shaping the way unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) will be introduced into the National Airspace System. The Pentagon is already represented on federal interagency and government-industry groups that were formed to facilitate UAS integration with other air traffic in unrestricted airspace. With progress toward that goal lagging and the DOD’s need for airspace access building, the department wants to bring to bear its decades of UAS experience to expedite the process.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) announced a partnership with Canadian software house OMX, in connection with that country’s joint unmanned surveillance and target acquisition system (Justas) requirement. GA-ASI is already teamed with simulation specialist CAE to offer the Predator B and/or Predator C Avenger to Canada.