UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE
15 Apr 08. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. announced the successful flight of the first Sky Warrior® Block 1 aircraft for the U.S. Army’s Extended Range/Multi-Purpose (ER/MP) UAS Program on March 31 from the company’s El Mirage Flight Operations Facility in Adelanto, Calif. The first flight of the Sky Warrior Block 1 aircraft marks continued progress towards the successful implementation of the Systems Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of GA-ASI’s multi-year contract for the ER/MP UAS Program, which calls for 17 Sky Warrior aircraft and seven One System Ground Control Stations (OSGCS). The total program, including follow-on production, is estimated to be worth over $2 billion. Other key “Team Sky Warrior” partners include AAI Corporation (OSGCS), SPARTA, Inc. (logistics support services), and L-3 Com/Communications Systems-West (TCDL and SATCOM communications). A derivative of the combat-proven Predator®, the innovative and technologically sophisticated Sky Warrior aircraft provides the U.S. Army with a reliable, affordable and compelling solution to meet challenging Army requirements for persistent RSTA and attack operations. The aircraft will perform long-endurance, surveillance, communications relay, and weapons delivery missions with double the weapons capacity of Predator. Featuring a Heavy Fuel Engine (HFE) for increased supportability in the field, Sky Warrior can fly above 25,000 feet on jet or diesel fuel with increased horsepower and significantly improved fuel efficiency. The HFE powerplant also reduces maintenance costs, offers increased service life, and greatly simplifies logistics by ensuring a more readily available fuel source. The aircraft is also equipped with triple redundant avionics, redundant flight controls/surfaces, and electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) payloads. High-resolution photos of the first Sky Warrior Block 1 aircraft are available from GA-ASI’s public relations and communications manager as listed above.
17 Apr 08. The U.S. Marine Corps and the Navy intend to buy a yet-to-be determined number of Scan Eagles, which are 40-pound vertical-takeoff UAVs with electro-optical infrared sensors that can beam images from 5,000 feet, service officials said. The U.S. Marine Corps recently conducted test flights of the Scan Eagle UAV at Quantico, Va. The services may seek to arm the UAV, said
Lt. Col. Chris Patton, Marine Corps UAS capabilities officer. The services currently lease Scan Eagles from their manufacturer, Bingen, Wash.-based Insitu. The Navy, Marines and U.S. Air Force have flown Scan Eagles more than 80,000 hours since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Scan Eagle takes off from a launcher and is retrieved by a rope suspended from the launcher. “A compressed-air launcher catapults the vehicle with a constant acceleration,” said Paul McDuffee, Insitu’s vice president of flight operations and training. “It takes up a minimum amount of desk space. It does not require a net. It just uses a rope,” he said. “With no net and no runway, you can operate from a field. You do not need a large expanse. This makes it ideal for shipborne operations.” The Marine Corps has four Scan Eagle units in Iraq and Afghanistan, Patton said. “It has been great for IED detection, running up and down the roads and seeing things before the Marines get to them,” Patton said. (Source: Defense News)
08 Apr 08. QinetiQ North America’s Technology Solutions Group announced today that Foster-Miller, Inc., has received a $22m order for additional TALON® robots and spare parts from the Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division (NAVEODTECHDIV) in Indian Head, MD. This award falls under a $291m IDIQ (indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity). NAVEODTECHDIV is the single service manager for Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and purchases EOD robots for all branches of the military. (Source: Shephard)