The U.S. Air Force is wresting with the manpower, training and cultural issues that surround the operation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In his presentation to the Dubai International Air Chiefs Conference (DIAC) last November,* USAF commander General Norton Schwartz outlined the new terminology and career fields that the service is introducing in response.
War on Terrorism
The movers and shakers of the airpower world were out in force here Saturday for the Dubai International Air Chiefs Conference. Organized by the Institute for Near East & Gulf Military Analysis–the UAE-based think tank–the conference featured presentations from nine air force commanders or their deputies.
Honeywell is celebrating a further $400 million worth of orders for its TPE331 engine following a U.S. Air Force decision to procure a total of 319 General Atomics Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Northrop Grumman’s AN/ZPY-1 STARLite unmanned aerial vehicle radar begins tests with the U.S. Army next month aboard the General Atomics MQ-1C Sky Warrior ERMP. In October, the company is to deliver the first qualified production units.
The stealthy, jet-powered version of the Predator series UAV that was unveiled last month was developed “with significant company investment,” according to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI). Tom Cassidy, president of GA-ASI’s aircraft systems group, again sought to contrast the company’s lean and independent development model with that of the major aerospace companies.
A report by the international Human Rights Watch (HRW) organization has put further pressure on U.S. and NATO air staffs and troops conducting air strikes in Afghanistan.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) won an
Raytheon is displaying here at Farnborough its universal control station (UCS) for UAVs. It is the first time the station is showing at an international venue.
The company claims that the UCS could dramatically reduce the accident rates of unmanned systems, as well as the cost to train operators. In particular, Raytheon wants to replace the ground stations provided by General Atomics for the control of the Predator and Reaper UAVs.
Two General Atomics Sky Warrior UAVs have been operating in Iraq since late April, well ahead of the drone’s formal system design and development (SDD) schedule. The Sky Warrior, a new version of the Predator-A, won the U.S. Army’s extended-range/multipurpose (ER/MP) competition. The substantial changes include a Thielert heavy-fuel engine, an autoland system and an improved, more mobile ground station.
Raytheon has sold a Predator Operations Center to the U.S. Air National Guard, which will use it to direct Predator UAV missions. The company is also marketing its Universal Control System (UCS) for the control of UAVs such as the Predator.
UCS is designed to be more user-friendly than the original ground stations supplied by General Atomics, and Raytheon hopes to make a sale soon.