The state of Oklahoma believes that it has the resources to be among the leading U.S. states in commercializing unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). But this spring, the state’s political leaders were disappointed by the findings of a UAS economic impact study that ranked California, Washington, Texas, Florida and Arizona as the top five states expected to see the most in terms of immediate job growth and revenue when UAS are integrated into the National Airspace System.
While the long-term goal for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is for 80 percent of their uses to be in the civilian sector, their main uses currently remain in the military sphere–although their role in border surveillance and disaster situations is increasing.
Although German UAV specialists Rheinmetall Airborne Systems (RAS) is now 51-percent owned by EADS, the Bremen-based outfit is retaining its own identity and continues to build upon expertise gained in operating two UAV systems for the German armed forces. It has developed a lightweight, low-cost tactical UAV and is proposing an innovative larger design that is hybrid in both airframe and power.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI, Chalet A206) is in the final stages of delivering a persistent surveillance radar system that is mounted on a tethered aerostat platform. The customer has not been revealed by IAI. The radar is based on IAI ELTA’s ELM-2022A multimode radar and provides a range of surveillance capabilities. It can automatically detect and track maritime targets down to periscope size in high-density environments and high sea states.
At an unmanned vehicles forum in Bonn this week, EADS Cassidian was again promoting what it now calls a Future European Male (Female) system. But the prospects of a pan-European program to match or improve on Male (medium-altitude long-endurance) UAV offerings from Israel, the U.S. and elsewhere have receded. France has decided to buy two GA-ASI Reaper systems, and there are indications that the UK will retain its Reapers beyond 2015, rather than retire them upon leaving Afghanistan.
Integration of remotely piloted air systems (RPAS, or unmanned air systems) into non-segregated airspace in Europe has moved a step closer with the latest test flight in the Desire project (Demonstration of Satellites enabling the Insertion of RPAS in Europe). The project is funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Defence Agency (EDA) and led by Indra of Spain.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is playing a prominent role in shaping the way unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) will be introduced into the National Airspace System. The Pentagon is already represented on federal interagency and government-industry groups that were formed to facilitate UAS integration with other air traffic in unrestricted airspace. With progress toward that goal lagging and the DOD’s need for airspace access building, the department wants to bring to bear its decades of UAS experience to expedite the process.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) announced a partnership with Canadian software house OMX, in connection with that country’s joint unmanned surveillance and target acquisition system (Justas) requirement. GA-ASI is already teamed with simulation specialist CAE to offer the Predator B and/or Predator C Avenger to Canada.
Northrop Grumman (NG) is promoting the E-2D Hawkeye AEW aircraft to Malaysia, as well as India and the U.A.E. NG attended the recent LIMA show in Langkawi, where it was publicizing the recent go-ahead for full E-2D production by the U.S. Navy. Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) is expected in 2015. The Navy’s program of record is for 75 E-2Ds; nine have been built for development and operational testing, and 11 more are now in production.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has evaluated small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) from three manufacturers since launching its Robotic Aircraft for Public Safety (Raps) program in December.