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04 Feb 16. UAV engines: Rotron eyes next-generation systems. Key Points:
• Industry and operators are looking to heavy fuel engines
• Onboard power generation key to supporting UAV capability growth
The next generation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will not emerge until advances in engine technology are achieved and introduced, according to Jim Edmondson, chief executive officer of Gilo Industries Group.
Gilo Industries’ Rotron UAV business unit specialises in advanced rotary engine technology with a current focus on tactical rotary-wing systems.
Edmondson believes that powerplants have often been a secondary consideration in the design of UAVs, with manufacturers focused instead on the provision of the capability that operators want, that is enabling the integration of the payloads that are required to achieve operational goals.
Following early work in the field of paramotors, the company has progressed to undertake a number of projects for defence primes, including providing the engine for Northrop Grumman’s Bat UAV. Gilo Industries has also received investment from Martin Baker, and works closely with the company.
“[Developing] UAVs seems very easy on the surface, but there is a big difference between RC hobbyists and having the technology and expertise to work on military systems,” Edmondson said.
Manufacturers, Edmondson believes, were often trying to achieve performance from engines that were not designed to provide what is required in order to support UAV operations, pointing to a number of issues with the engines utilised by widely fielded UAVs in the past, notably with early Insitu ScanEagle and AAI (now Textron Systems) Shadow aircraft.
Edmondson said that Rotron has placed an emphasis on reliability and longevity in its engines as these have been requirements recognised by the company, as well as industry and operators.
The company’s existing engine range consists of the gasoline-fuelled RT300 LCR and heavy fuel RT300 HFE units, which are suitable for UAVs requiring 32 hp and 31 hp respectively; and the gasoline-powered RT600 LCR and heavy fuel RT600 HFE, which are aimed at 56 hp and 58 hp requirements.
(Source: IHS Jane’s)
03 Feb 16. Europe launches first SpaceDataHighway satellite. The first relay satellite, EDRS-A, was launched into geostationary orbit on January 30. It is scheduled to become operational by mid-2016, according to an Airbus Defense and Space announcement. Airbus and the European Space Agency have formed a public-private partnership to develop the SpaceDataHighway, which will provide high-speed laser communication at up to 1.8 gigabits per second.
“Using communication relay satellites such as EDRS-A, the SpaceDataHighway will be able to transfer high-volume information from Earth observation satellites, UAVs and surveillance aircraft, or even from a space station such as the ISS,” Airbus said. “Thanks to the very high communication rates possible with lasers of up to 1.8 gigabits per second and the geostationary orbit positioning of the relay satellites, up to 50 terabytes per day can be transmitted securely in near-real-time to Earth, as opposed to the delay of several hours currently experienced.”
Laser technology developed by Airbus subsidiary Tesat Spacecom, offers a highly precise pointing capability that can connect two laser terminals located 75,000 kilometers apart. Airbus is also working with UAV maker General Atomics to develop laser airborne terminals. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/C4ISR & Networks)
02 Feb 16. Indonesia and France initiate defence R&D programme.
Indonesia and France have initiated a project to promote science and technology collaboration in strategic sectors including defence.
Called the Nusantara Programme 2016, the initiative is funded by the two governments and jointly managed by Indonesia’s Ministry for R