BAE Systems canceled a briefing here yesterday on Anglo-French collaboration for the next generation of UAVs. The company had hoped that ministers from both countries would be ready to announce joint funding for further studies of medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAVs and a future combat air system (FCAS).
War on Terrorism
Raytheon has been awarded a major contract for the MTS-B multi-spectral targeting system. The $191 million contract was awarded by the U.S. Air Force in April and covers the supply of 149 high-definition MTS-B turrets for Reaper unmanned air vehicles, plus support equipment and spares. Deliveries are due to start in the first quarter of next year, and will run for around two years.
The developer of a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) that is orders of magnitude smaller than other radars was awarded a $24 million contract from the U.S. Army Contracting Command in Natick, Mass., to build a “lightweight, ultra-wideband” SAR for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for completion in 2017.
We’ve been hearing about unmanned aircraft strikes on suspected terrorists in the tribal regions of Pakistan, in Afghanistan and lately in Somalia and Yemen, for years now. So it’s surprising that the U.S. government’s first official acknowledgement that it uses remotely piloted aircraft—drones, if you must—to take down terrorists came just one week ago.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) revealed two options to extend the endurance of the MQ-9 Reaper UAV, also known as the Predator B. Wing-mounted fuel tanks and a 22-foot wing extension could be installed in the field in the “near term,” according to the company. They would complement the modified main landing gear, announced previously, that increases the Reaper’s max takeoff weight to 11,700 pounds from 10,500 pounds.
Responding to a lawsuit filed by a digital rights advocacy organization, the FAA has identified the public and private entities currently authorized to operate UAVs in U.S. domestic airspace. On April 19 the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Fou
The U.S. Navy grounded its fleet of 14 MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopters following the recent crash of an aircraft in Afghanistan and a ditching at sea. The Naval Air Systems Command (Navair) said it is reviewing Fire Scout system performance and operational procedures. Loss rates of U.S. military unmanned platforms are not often discussed, but official data from the U.S.
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.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) is stepping up promotion of the jet-powered Predator C Avenger UAV, after flying a second, larger version for the first time on January 12. GA-ASI president Frank Pace claims that the stealth-shaped aircraft offers performance, cost, timescale and adaptability “that are unmatched by any other UAS in its class.” The company is pitching the UAV for the U.S.
The Pentagon is now spending $3.3 billion annually to develop and buy unmanned aerial systems (UAS), but this sum is still only 8 percent of the total devoted to all aircraft, according to a new report on UAS by the U.S. Congressional Research Service. The report mostly rehashes previously published material, but it does contain an updated inventory of UAS platforms in service provided by the DoD’s UAS Task Force.
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