The Pentagon is increasing production of the General Atomics Predator and Reaper armed UAVs and withdrawing 250 strike aircraft. The long-awaited statement on the U.S. Fiscal Year 2010 budget by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates confirmed an end to F-22 production at 187 aircraft, offset by a slight advance in the pace of the F-35 program.
Two new medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAVs are due to make their first flights next year as European aerospace companies challenge the lead in this field established by Israel and the U.S. The BAE Systems Mantis technology demonstrator, unveiled at the Farnborough Air Show in July, might become airborne as early as next month in Australia.
A revolution in the progress of aviation could result from Rockwell Collins’ recent acquisition of Athena Technologies. Athena Technologies said it is convinced that the time has arrived for completely safe operation of unmanned parcel-carrying aircraft.
Athena bases its prediction on a successful flight test in which it ejected almost 60 percent of the right wing on an F/A-18 subscale model without an ensuing disaster.
Represented by Farnborough Aerospace in Hall 4 Stand E13, the Warrior (Aero-Marine) Gull 36 UAV has commenced operating both in and over the English Channel under contract from Flight Refuelling of the Cobham Group. The four meter-span UAV is reported to have exhibited excellent water handing and flying qualities, confirming the accuracy of theoretical models compared to data extracted from the Gull’s data loggers.
Officials from the UK’s up-and-coming UAV test airfield are negotiating here this week with several American companies who have expressed frustration with the lack of timely cooperation from their own Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Boeing’s A-160T Hummingbird rotor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) recently claimed an unofficial world’s record for its weight class by staying aloft for more than 18 hours. In a mid-May test at the U.S. Army’s proving ground in Yuma, Arizona, the turbine-powered craft–carrying a 300 pound payload–reached altitudes of up to 15,000 feet and landed with a fuel reserve of more than 90 minutes.
Analysis and simulation of operations by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is not always an easy task because of the need to consider the broad C4-ISTAR picture, often in a joint scenario. However, being able to verify mission requirements and to validate concepts of operation before buying new systems is certainly of value to military clients.
While European governments preach greater collaboration in defense research and development, three competing programs for uninhabited combat air vehicles (UCAVs) have been officially funded. Yet the aim of all three is to preserve the European high-technology base and develop important capabilities such as low-observability and autonomous control, independent of the U.S.
L-3 Communications (Hall 4 Stand 18, Chalet A16-18) is showing a new, handheld version of the Rover device that has rapidly become essential kit for allied ground troops directing airstrikes in Iraq and Afghanistan. The company has already delivered some 4,000 of the previous, laptop-size Rover 3 and 4 versions, which display video feeds from various airborne platforms.
Powered by quiet motors and armed with conventional and infrared cameras and other specialized sensors, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are becoming more and more attractive to law-enforcement agencies. Not surprisingly, both the FBI and the Office of Homeland Security are investigating how they might use UAVs for covert surveillance of suspected criminal or terrorist activity in the U.S., by night and day and in all-weather conditions.