Selex Sensors and Airborne Systems UK has become the first major tenant at the new West Wales UAV Centre (WWUAVC) at the ParcAberporth technology park. On July 7, during the ParcAberporth Unmanned Systems 2006 exhibition, Andrew Davies, the Welsh Assembly Government’s Minister for Enterprise, Innovation and Networks, officially opened the center.
The UK Ministry of Defence is preparing to issue an Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) for an unmanned aerial surveillance system to help British troops fight Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. Some–maybe all–of the likely contending systems are on display here.
In November the UK Royal Air Force’s UAV Battlelab plans to integrate an unmanned air vehicle into a military exercise for the first time, as part of Project Sabrina. An earlier attempt in June was cancelled due to technical difficulties, but the Battlelab is optimistic that the UAV’s participation in the next Combined Qualified Weapons Instructor (CQWI) exercise will go ahead.
AGS Industries, a recently formed joint-venture company headquartered in Ottobrunn, Germany, is working on a response to a formal request for proposal for the design and development of NATO’s alliance ground surveillance (AGS) system.
Responding to the rapid growth in demand for training in the area of unmanned aerial systems, Qinetiq’s Empire Test Pilots’ School, located at the UK Ministry of Defence MOD Boscombe Down site, late last month completed its first “Introduction to Unmanned Aerial Systems Trials and Evaluation” short course. Fourteen delegates from the UK armed forces and civilian personnel from Qinetiq attended.
The key technologies being investigated in the current UCAV programs are advanced flight control for tail-less, blended-wing-body configurations; autonomous operation using reconfigurable software; open architecture avionics; secure datalinks; low-cost composite construction; and low observability (for example, stealth).
NASA’s announcement last month that–effective from the start of FY06 on October 1 this year–it will cancel all further support of U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) development has sent a shock wave through the industry.
The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in civil, non-segregated airspace took another step forward early last month at the unmanned systems trade show at the ParcAberporth research and development center on the west coast of Wales when Thales UK and Elbit Systems of Israel demonstrated their Hermes 450. The flight was the first of a pilotless aircraft weighing more than 330 pounds in non-segregated UK airspace.
Once the exclusive domain of the military and, with few exceptions, flying outside controlled airspace, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are now slowly nudging their noses under the civil tent. Already, USAF RQ-4 Global Hawks routinely fly across the U.S.
A new chapter in civil aviation history opened recently when the FAA issued the first airworthiness certificate for a commercial unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the General Atomics Altair. But the operating restrictions on the UAV should limit any interference with civil aircraft and ATC.