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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

13 Aug 07. U.S. Wants 3,000 New Robots for War Up to 1,000 by Year’s End; Drive-off To Determine Winner. Responding to a joint urgent operational needs statement from Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Army and Marine Corps have launched a whirlwind competition to buy up to 1,000 new bomb-detecting robots by the end of the year — and 2,000 more within five years — with deliveries to start next month. The competition for the XBot began with a July 17 solicitation on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site for a proven, remote-controlled robot weighing no more than 50 pounds and operator control unit weighing less than 20 pounds. Over the past month, robot-makers have been readying for a “drive-off” Aug. 13-15 at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala., that will determine the winner. Remotely operated unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) will be tested rigorously on a predetermined course, with operators required to guide them over rocks and uneven terrain and through water, to detect obstacles under vehicles and test communications. The victor will be crowned Sept. 14 with a contract for 101 robots. The first must be delivered within 10 days, with up to 1,000 to enter service by year’s end. The aim is to bring the number of U.S. military robots in combat up to 5,000 by year’s end, said Lira Frye, spokeswomen for U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command at Redstone. (Source: Defense News)
14 Aug 07. The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded a $13,195,994 modification to a previously awarded, firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-05-C-0045) to provide follow-on persistent Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle services.The services currently being performed are in direct support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Global War on Terror.Work will be performed in St. Louis, Mo., and is expected to be completed in October 2008.Contract funds in the amount of $13,195,994 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

08 Aug 07. The Army is considering sending a revolutionary new kind of unmanned aerial vehicle to Iraq that can hover at 20,000 feet over the battlefield for more than eight hours, transmitting infrared and optical imagery to commanders on the ground. The MQ-8B Fire Scout tactical unmanned aerial vehicle system – which only a few years ago seemed all but dead – is one system Army Vice-Chief of Staff Gen. Richard Cody requested this summer as a possible answer to an urgent battlefield need for unmanned surveillance in Iraq. Officials with Fire Scout manufacturer Northrop Grumman told Military.com the Army could make a decision on whether to field the vertical take-off and landing drone by the end of August. If all goes according to plan, the company could field as many as eight MQ-8Bs to units in Iraq by mid-2008. “We want to get the Army to fly the Fire Scout as early as possible,” said Rick Ludwig, Northrop Grumman’s director of business development for UAV systems. (Source: Military.com)

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