25 Jul 05. Japan has started its own unmanned aerial vehicle development program and aims to produce two prototypes by fiscal 2012 for $200m. The UAVs would replace importation of U.S.-made UAVs. The plan will ignite debate in Parliament about whether such a massive investment is a wise use of taxpayer money when the end result is likely to be inferior to existing U.S. aircraft. UAVs could be useful, however, for detecting suspicious vessels ion nearby waters and in defending outlying islands and could contribute to missile defense by providing surveillance on North Korean ballistic missile launches. Japan began basic research on UAVs in fiscal 2003 and has spent $21.8m up to now. But it does not have universal support, and Defense Agency Director Gen. Yoshinori Ono has indicated that buying U.S.-made UAVs might still be an option. Some experts said that some in the Defense Agency are hoping to protect the Japanese defense technology infrastructure from becoming ever more reliant on U.S. weapons systems. Others in the Japanese military are concerned that the UAV project would be a repeat of the costly F-2 support fighter, which Japan decided to jointly develop with the United States because it did not want to buy foreign models.
27 Jul 05. Techsphere Systems International, announced The Development Authority of Columbus, Georgia unanimously approved $10 million in Industrial Revenue Bonds for Techsphere Systems International. Once underwritten, these Bonds will be used towards the expansion of Techsphere Systems International in the completion of Project Altitude. Project Altitude includes the acquisition of land, the renovation of existing buildings, and the acquisition of design engineered equipment. This expansion will increase employment opportunities in Columbus, Georgia.
Jul 05. Aerosonde Awarded Coastwatch UAV Trial Contract. Australian UAV company Aerosonde Pty Limited has been awarded a $600,000 contract to undertake UAV surveillance and detection trials for Coastwatch in the Torres Strait in 2005-06. The contract follows a commitment made by the Coalition in September 2004 to undertake trials to gauge the effectiveness of long endurance UAVs for maritime surveillance used in conjunction with other surveillance systems such as High Frequency Surface Wave Radars. The trials will be based at Weipa and cover an Area of Operations in the western Torres Strait. The first phase of trials will take place in August and September 2005 followed by a second phase early in 2006. The trials will assess Aerosonde’s ability to find, identify and track a variety of targets provided by Customs Coastwatch. The Aerosondes will be fitted with day and night detection systems and will use satellite communications to return data to Coastwatch locations.
Jul 05. Metal Storm Limited announced that it has won a contract from Dragonfly Pictures, Inc. The initial contract, which will cover work through a live fire test specified for 2005 and 2006, is valued at US$325,000 (approx. AUD$422,297) and includes an option to expand the contract to US$431,100 (approx. AUD$560,160). The contract was awarded by Dragonfly Pictures, Inc. to integrate the Metal Storm 40MM weapons system into Dragonfly’s existing DP-4X VTOL, UAV/Weapon System, and conduct a live fire test. This would constitute Metal Storm’s first flying demonstration of its technology on a UAV.
25 Jul 05. Northrop Grumman Corporation’s RQ-8 Fire Scout UAV reached another important milestone July 22 when the UAV successfully fired two test rockets. This is the first successful live weapons fire from an autonomous unmanned helicopter. This event proves Fire Scout’s ability to perform strike missions — in addition to conducting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance — and subsequently expands its capabilities. The test supports the U.S. Navy’s and U.S. Army’s interest in weaponizing Fire Scout, which fired two 2.75-inch Mark 66 unguided rockets at Arizo