The $1.6 billion Watchkeeper program for the British Army has made Thales the biggest UAV company in Europe, and in its UAV systems laboratory, also known as the Soul battlelab near Bordeaux, the company’s engineers are exploring the requirements for future ground control stations and mission systems.
Innovative engineering in small companies has been responsible for many of today’s unmanned aerial vehicle developments in the U.S. One such company is Cloud Cap Technology, based in Hood River, Oregon. It provides low-cost autopilots and gimbals to a variety of small, mostly unmanned platforms.
Alenia Aeronautica’s standing as a player in the fast-developing UAV market has been bolstered by its role a first-level partner in Europe’s Neuron unmanned combat air vehicle program. Last month, the Italian company delivered the first weapons bay doors and its operating mechanism to program leader Dassault Aviation.
Raytheon’s common ground control system (CGCS) is being cast as an economical solution for controlling unmanned aircraft systems from different manufacturers. This is after it started life several years ago as a tactical control system (TCS) for the U.S. Navy.
Raytheon’s growing portfolio of precision munitions is to expand with the development of a new smart missile to arm small UAVs that are current unable to carry weapons. Initial flight tests have produced good results, and the small tactical missile (STM) is gearing up for more advanced testing in the coming weeks.
Israel’s Elbit Systems has announced a number of important developments in recent weeks, covering a range of the company’s diverse capabilities. A selection of its services and products are showcased on the company’s booth in the Israeli Pavilion.
Elbit Systems of Haifa, Israel, announced the first export sale of its Hermes 900 unmanned aerial system to a “Latin American country,” identified by various sources as Chile. The number of systems and air vehicles to be supplied is unspecified, but the contract includes ground control stations and sensors, including the DCoMPASS (digital compact multi-purpose advanced stabilized system) and radar systems.
During the 2011 International Defense Industry Fair (IDEF), held in Istanbul on May 10 to 13, EADS Cassidian signed a memorandum of understanding with Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), covering the participation of Turkish industry in the Talarion Male UAV program. This modular surveillance platform is being developed to meet projected requirements from France, Germany and Spain.
Manufacturers of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) may no longer have an excuse not to equip their aircraft with transponders, which should make at least one pilot happy. This pilot told AIN that he experienced a near-miss with a UAV while flying in the southwestern U.S.
The first flight of the Northrop Grumman X-47B demonstrator for the U.S. Navy took place at Edwards AFB on February 4. Northrop Grumman which has been working on the Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D) contract since August 2007, rolled out the first of two air vehicles in December 2008 and originally predicted a first flight in late 2009.