An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) could soon be coming to civil airspace near you and the FAA wants to know what you think. The safety considerations of mixing piloted aircraft in NextGen airspace with those flown by people on the ground or even totally by computer are a serious concern for most aviators.
IAI-Elta Systems have stepped up the marketing of a multi-mission airborne reconnaissance and surveillance system (Mars2) based on the Gulfstream G550 business jet. The sensor suite will combine SAR and GMTI radar plus EO/IR, Sigint and C3 capability “in a tight integration thanks to some unique algorithms,” said Gideon Landa, Elta’s general manager, airborne systems and radar division.
The acquisition cost of F-35s for the international partners is bound to be affected by the slowdown in U.S. production, Dave Scott, Lockheed Martin’s director for international F-35 customer engagement, told AIN. “But we’ll still be doing about 30 in each of the next few years for the U.S., and when you add orders that have already been confirmed by the partners plus Israel and Japan, it’s not a bad annual rate,” he continued.
Among the debutantes here at the 2012 Singapore Airshow is the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s latest UAV, the Heron 1 from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). Singapore’s armed forces have acquired a number of Heron 1s under their “third-generation transformation” program, and they are replacing IAI Searchers with the UAV Command. Deliveries began last year. The UAVs are equipped with IAI’s TAMAM MOSP (multi-mission optronic stabilized payload) and offer a significant improvement in sensor capability, endurance and autonomous operation.
Saab Surveillance Systems is offering a new maritime mode for the Erieye AEW&C system that can detect moving objects as small as jet skis or rubber boats that might be used by terrorist groups. Mats Wicksell, technical program manager, told an AEW conference organized by Defence iQ in London that AEW systems can play an important role in maritime surveillance because of their wide-area coverage. Like other AEW systems, the Erieye radar already offers detection of larger vessels.
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.