General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) said it has demonstrated an early prototype of its “due regard” radar for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) on a manned surrogate aircraft, joining other efforts to develop airborne “sense-and-avoid” systems that could help introduce UAS into unrestricted airspace.
Unmanned aerial vehicle
NATO officials expect to sign the long-awaited contract to provide an Allied Ground Surveillance (AGS) capability within the next three months. Northrop Grumman will provide five Global Hawk Block 40 UAVs, while a consortium of European companies that includes EADS Cassidian and Selex Galileo will provide transportable and mobile ground stations. Initial operating capability (IOC) is slated for 2017-18.
Raytheon and Northrop Grumman are developing new systems and concepts for close air support using an unmanned version of the twin-engine A-10 Thunderbolt II. The companies received contracts worth $7 million each in April 2011 under phase one of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) program.
The Hermes 450 UAV designed by Israel’s Elbit Systems has been acquired as a surveillance platform by at least 10 countries, including Singapore, but only the UK has requested major changes.
French air force commander General Jean-Paul Palomeros, speaking on the recording of full-motion video (FMV) from airborne platforms–especially UAVs, said, “The challenge today is to exploit the amount of ISR data gathered and then disseminate it in a useful way to different customers.” A huge amount of expert manpower is required, he told AIN, but the general is not convinced that automatic target recognition software is the answer. Artificial intelligence would be best applied to make UAVs fly autonomously, he believes.
Among the debutantes here at the 2012 Singapore Airshow is the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s latest UAV, the Heron 1 from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). Singapore’s armed forces have acquired a number of Heron 1s under their “third-generation transformation” program, and they are replacing IAI Searchers with the UAV Command. Deliveries began last year. The UAVs are equipped with IAI’s TAMAM MOSP (multi-mission optronic stabilized payload) and offer a significant improvement in sensor capability, endurance and autonomous operation.
The latest UAV from ST Aerospace, the Skyblade 360–a mini-UAV that has been designed to use fuel cell technology to extend its endurance to an impressive six hours–is on display for the first time here at the show. ST Engineering has identified unmanned systems as one of seven competency clusters within its aerospace sector, and has been working with DSO National Laboratories to develop a number of vehicles.
Israel has a major presence here at the Singapore Airshow, arranged into a national pavilion under the auspices of SIBAT, the Israeli MOD’s defense export and cooperation division. Nine companies are exhibiting as part of the pavilion, between them offering what Brig. Gen. Shmaya Avieli, SIBAT’s director, describes as, “a wide range of Israeli technologies in the aviation, space and defense sectors, that together create a full and complete solution.”