This week’s IDEX defense exhibition in Abu Dhabi provided the first public view of the Saab 340AEW, purchased by the UAE Air Force and Air Defense as an interim airborne early-warning solution. One of two aircraft in service made a single flypast during a brief force demonstration. The air force’s latest acquisition, the Airbus A330 MRTT, also flew past, accompanied by four Mirage 2000-9 fighters, just days after being delivered. The remaining pair from the UAE’s order will be delivered later this year.
Northrop Grumman has improved the range and reduced the weight of its AN/ZPY-1 StarLite multimode surveillance radar, which the company is proposing as a sensor for the U.S. Army’s RQ-7B Shadow, the Navy’s future MQ-8C Fire Scout and other manned and unmanned aircraft.
Northrop Grumman is marketing an unmanned aircraft that could be a low-cost alternative for training the operators of its own MQ-5B Hunter and the Predator and Reaper UAVs made by General Atomics.
Raytheon has been awarded a contract to provide four podded dismount detection radar (DDR) systems to the U.S. Air Force. The SAR/GMTI (synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target indicator) sensors are for carriage by General Atomics MQ-9 Block 5 Reaper UAVs, and the new radars will provide operators with the ability to find and track individuals and vehicles. The Block 5 is the forthcoming upgraded version of the Reaper.
The southern U.S. state of Mississippi is continuing to grow as an aerospace center, having recently announced major plant expansions by General Atomics’ Electromagnetic Systems group and Rolls-Royce. It is home to companies that produce helicopters, airborne early warning radar systems, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), parachutes, electromagnetic launch systems for aircraft carriers and composite jet engine components.
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.
A Bloomberg Government report released June 17, said the U.S. Air Force has experienced 129 drone accidents in the past 15 years, with aircraft produced by Northrup Grumman Corp. and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems involved in more of the accidents than those of any other manufacturers.
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.
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.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) said it has demonstrated an early prototype of its “due regard” radar for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) on a manned surrogate aircraft, joining other efforts to develop airborne “sense-and-avoid” systems that could help introduce UAS into unrestricted airspace.