Ruag Aerospace calls its Super Ranger the first UAV built in accordance with the new international UAV Systems Airworthiness Requirements and Stanag 4671 rules.
UAVs and drones
Russia’s defense industry seems determined to make up for ground it has lost to Western rivals in the market for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The most tangible evidence to date came in August at the MAKS airshow in Moscow where RSK-MiG launched its stealth Skat unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV).
BAE Systems (Stand W412) has started building the airframe for the Taranis, a $254 million unmanned combat aerial vehicle demonstrator aimed at helping the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) determine its armed forces’ future equipment needs.
A four-year, NASA-led project began last month to determine the requirements and procedures for safely integrating the operation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into the National Airspace System. First-year funding of about $8.4 million will be used primarily for detailed planning and validation of requirements for UAVs to fly above FL400, where many business jets operate.
Total Aircraft Services (Booth No. 6151) of Van Nuys, Calif., has completed a radar pod for a Gulfstream III operated by NASA Dryden Flight Research Center. An Earth Science Capabilities Demonstration project, the unmanned air vehicle synthetic aperture radar (UAVSAR) is jointly supported by NASA-Dryden and NASA-Jet–Propulsion Laboratory.
Northrop Grumman has won the U.S. Navy's Unmanned Combat Air Systems Technology Demonstrator (UCAS-D) contract, worth $635 million over the next six years. The company's proposal for an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) capable of operating from aircraft carriers, designated the X-47B, beat the X-45N submission from Boeing. The decision is ostensibly a big blow for Boeing, which pioneered the development of UCAVs in the U.S.
The recent commencement of low-altitude Customs and Immigration patrols by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) along the Arizona/Mexico border and the earlier nonstop, totally automated, transpacific and transatlantic flights above FL600 by the USAF’s Global Hawk (AIN, December, page 54) are strong signals that one day the altitude gap between these two will close, and we’ll have unmanned aircraft sharing our airspace. When will that day arrive?
Dominating IAI’s exhibit area here at Le Bourget is the Heron TP, a turboprop-powered medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAV. It is the first public showing of this craft, whose 85-foot wingspan nearly rivals that of an ATR 72 airliner, which is five times heavier. Heron TP is the latest and largest of a long line of UAVs developed by IAI’s Malat Division.
Two of Europe’s manned combat air vehicle programs have taken significant strides in recent times. The Neuron UCAV technical demonstrator is being built by a Dassault-led team with partners in Sweden, Italy, Greece, Switzerland and Spain. From official notification in February 2006, the team has established an efficient structure for industrial cooperation, leading to a satisfactory interim review in September.
Claimed to be the first UAV system to be built in accordance with the new international UAV Systems Airworthiness Requirements, the Ruag Aerospace Super Ranger has been designed to fill an important gap. The company’s market research has shown that some existing UAV tactical systems operators want a Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance UAV (MALE) capability but cannot afford it.