UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE
10 Mar 08. The U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and Boeing have demonstrated successfully that ScanEagle unmanned air vehicles modified to look for biological warfare agents can effectively intercept, detect and fly through simulated biological plumes or clouds to collect airborne agents. Tests also show that the UAVs can successfully collect airborne material and data from a target site that can help U.S. forces combat the threat from biological agents and minimize the danger to friendly forces and civilians. From early November 2007 to the end of January 2008, Boeing conducted developmental, shipboard integration and operational flight tests of the Biological Combat Assessment System (BCAS) as part of the BCAS Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) program in support of DTRA. Developmental testing was conducted in November 2007 at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. The shipboard integration testing was conducted at sea in early December 2007. And, in late January 2008, the final operational demonstration test was conducted from the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command 38 research vessel in the Gulf of Mexico.
Mar 08. Cosworth has been selected by the US Navy as one of three companies to enter Phase 1 of the Ultra Endurance Unmanned Ariel Vehicle (UE-UAV) heavy fuel engine technology development programme. Deliverables of the programme include extensive ground and flight test evaluation of a heavy fuel engine against demanding performance criteria. The ultimate objective of the 2 year duration 3 phase multi-million dollar UE-UAV programme being to prove technology readiness for transition to the STUAS/Tier II UAV programmes. (Source: Shephard)
10 Mar 08. US-based EMS provider Jabil has developed, in partnership with iRobot, a new machine for the defence sector. The partnership reflects Jabil’s effort to diversifying its business, into aerospace, defence and medical technology for example. Both, its defence and aerospace divisions, have grown at a compound annual rate of 102 percent. Jabil Circuits has handled electronic circuitry on the PackBots for two years now. The robots’ developer, Massachusetts-based iRobot, picked Jabil after a competitive bidding process in 2005. So far, iRobot has delivered 1,300 robots. The U.S. Army awarded an additional $286m contract to iRobot for up to 3,000 more robots, in December 2007. Consumer electronics and networking equipment are still the company’s major business sectors, but the defence sector seems to bring in more business. The division has a total of 850 employees, however the majority – 650 staff – are based in the St. Petersburg facility.
09 Mar 08. Huge space truck races into orbit. Europe’s new orbital cargo ship has launched from French Guiana on a mission to resupply the space station. The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) is the biggest and most complex spacecraft Europe has ever tried to put in orbit. The 20-tonne unmanned freighter left the Kourou spaceport at 0403 GMT, riding atop an Ariane 5 rocket. The spectacular night launch in the South American jungle was declared a success once the ATV had separated from its booster 66 minutes after lift-off. The news was cheered by a huge crowd of VIPs, space agency officials and representatives of the industrial teams that have worked on the development of the ship for past 11 years. (Source: BBC)