EADS is moving forward with its Talarion medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAV, with an eye to flying it in 2014. In the meantime, its Barracuda demonstrator is gearing up for a series of trials to demonstrate the employment of UAVs in a netcentric environment.
Unmanned aerial vehicle
The U.S. Air Force has finally acknowledged the existence of a stealthy air vehicle operating over Afghanistan, after another photo of the so-called “Beast of Kandahar” was published on the French Web site Secret Defense. Designated the RQ-170 Sentinel, the tailless flying wing was designed by the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, and is providing reconnaissance and surveillance support to forward-deployed combat forces, the USAF said.
Kazak Operator Receives Two More AW139s
Selex Galileo, which produces the Falco tactical UAV, has recently integrated multiple reconnaissance sensors on the vehicle. With an mtow of only 1,078 pounds, the Falco may be the smallest UAV to carry both video and radar sensors. The Anglo-Italian company manufactures the sensors and the ground control system, as well as the air vehicle and its avionics.
Goodrich ISR Systems has been on the acquisition trail and some of the resulting technology is on display here at the Dubai Airshow (Stand W360). Best known for the DB-110 aerial sensor it has sold to six countries, the Goodrich unit is now marketing additional aerial sensors after buying Recon/Optical Inc. (ROI) last year.
Last month Saab announced a partnership with Ultra Electronics’ UK-based Communication and Integrated Systems division covering the joint exploration and exploitation of the market for vertical takeoff and land unmanned aerial vehicle systems (VTUAS). Earlier, in May, Saab announced another partnership with Swiss UAV, which added the Neo and Koax vehicles to create a VTUAS family along with the Saab-developed Skeldar.
A second copy of the Barracuda combat UAV demonstrator made four successful flights from Goose Bay, Labrador, according to EADS. The first Barracuda crashed on an early test flight in Spain in 2006. The demonstrator flew autonomously with monitoring from the ground station for safety purposes only, EADS said. The tests form part of the “Agile UAV in Network Centric Environment (NCE)” study commissioned by the German Defence Ministry.
EADS hopes to persuade France, Germany and Spain to launch development of its Advanced UAV, now named Talarion, a medium/high-altitude surveillance drone. But evidence of any progress by EADS in the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) sector was entirely missing at this month’s Paris Air Show.
One of the more unusual debutants at this year’s airshow is Israel Aerospace Industries’ HAROP loitering munition. A cross between an unmanned aerial vehicle and a bomb, HAROP is an expendable air vehicle that is launched from the box in which it is transported. The weapon can loiter over the battlefield for up to six hours, using its nose-mounted EO/IR sensor turret to spot targets or relay video imagery back to the control station.
After a difficult period in which the whole program’s future lay in doubt, AgustaWestland’s Future Lynx has emerged with a new name–AW159 Lynx Wildcat–and renewed optimism. The aircraft was selected by the UK Ministry of Defence in May 2006 to fulfill its battlefield reconnaissance helicopter requirement for the British Army, and a surface combatant maritime rotorcraft requirement for the Royal Navy.