I have been following with interest the developing story of how Iran has reportedly managed to capture some of the U.S.’s most sensitive surveillance technology, and I still have to shake my head at what a waste it was.
The American subsidiary of MBDA has bought the Viper Strike weapons business and production line from Northrop Grumman. The Huntsville, Ala.-based activity was Northrop Grumman’s only business unit to offer a direct-fires weapon. This is MBDA’s first acquisition in the U.S., where the pan-European company wants to expand “through a combination of acquisitions, organic growth and partnerships with other prime contractors.”
Iran claimed December 4 to have shot down a Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel UAV along the country’s eastern border. Five days later, an almost intact airframe closely resembling the secret airframe was shown on Iranian television. The NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul admitted that operators of “a US unarmed reconnaissance UAV” had lost control of it during “a mission over western Afghanistan late last week”.
Lockheed Martin UK Integrated Systems has unveiled a self-contained sensor pod that can be fitted easily to helicopters and airlifters to convert them for a variety of airborne surveillance missions. At the core of the package, which Lockheed Martin has named Vigilance, is an adaptation of Northrop Grumman’s fighter-size APG-80/81 AESA radar series.
UAE’s Air Force and Air Defense (AFAD) has a long-standing interest in acquiring an airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) capability.
Cassidian, the global security solutions and systems giant and subsidiary of EADS, is focusing on its unmanned air systems capability, as well as highlighting its security and communications activities in the Gulf region.
Arguably the most impressive new design on display at Dubai is Adcom Systems’ latest unmanned air vehicle, the United 40. Based in Abu Dhabi, the company has forged a reputation for taking innovative approaches to UAV and aerial target design, and the United 40 does not disappoint due to its tandem-wing layout and dramatic S-shaped fuselage.
U.S. special or covert forces are using hand-launched UAVs disguised as large birds to monitor terrorist movements along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The Pakistan Frontier Corps recovered one such UAV after it crashed on August 25 near one of its border forts in Baluchistan.