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16 May 08. A ton of work needs to be done by military, federal and civil aviation groups if the rapidly growing unmanned aircraft community is allowed routine access to public airspace. In a wide-ranging report on the impact of unmanned aircraft on the country’s commercial airspace, congressional watchdogs at the Government Accountability Office today called on Congress to create an overarching body within Federal Aviation Administration to coordinate unmanned aircraft development and integration efforts. The GAO also called on the FAA to work with the Department of Defense, which has extensive unmanned aircraft experience to issue its program plan. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) assesses the security implications of routine unmanned aircraft access to commercial airspace, the GAO said. Even if all issues are addressed, and there are a number of critical problems, unmanned aircraft may not receive routine access to the national airspace system until 2020, the GAO concluded. But such access is certainly on the minds of the unmanned aircraft community. That’s mainly because the market for government and commercial-use unmanned aircraft could explode in the coming years. Federal agencies such as the DHS, the Department of Commerce, and NASA alone use unmanned planes in many areas, such as border security, weather research, and forest fire monitoring. Researchers at the Teal Group said in their 2008 market study estimates that UAV spending will more than double over the next decade from current worldwide UAV spending of $3.4bn annually to $7.3bn, totaling close to $55bn in the next ten years. The forecast also indicates that the US could account for 73% of the world’s research and development investment unmanned flight in the next decade. Still, routine unmanned aircraft access to the national airspace system poses technological, regulatory, workload, and coordination challenges, the GAO said. A key technological challenge is providing the capability for unmanned aircraft to meet the safety requirements of the national airspace system. For example, a person operating an aircraft must maintain vigilance so as to see and avoid other aircraft. However, because the airplanes have no person on board, on-board equipment, radar, or direct human observation must substitute for this capability. No technology has been identified as a suitable substitute for a
person on board the aircraft in seeing and avoiding other aircraft, the GAO report stated. Additionally, the aircraft’ communications and control links are vulnerable to unintentional or intentional radio interference that can lead to loss of control of an aircraft and an accident, and in the future, ground control stations—the unmanned airplane equivalent to a manned aircraft cockpit—may need physical security protection to guard against hostile takeover, the GAO said. (Source: Shephard)

19 May 08. General Dynamics Robotic Systems delivered the first 11-meter “Fleet” class Anti-Submarine Warfare Unmanned Surface Vehicle (ASW USV) to the U.S. Navy on May 2 as part of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) mission package.
General Dynamics Robotic Systems is apart of General Dynamics Land Systems (Sterling Heights, Michigan). General Dynamics has worked in partnership with a Navy team that includes PEO-Littoral; Mine Warfare (LMW), PMS-420 LCS Mission Package Systems, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, San Diego (SSC San Diego) and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) to design, integrate, test and deliver the USV.

16 May 08. Russia’s Tupolev aircraft manufacturer plans to upgrade several types of UAV systems, corporate-owned Russian military news agency Interfax-AVN website reported on 16 May. The upgrade will allow their range to be considerably extended. The systems in question are Reys and Reys-D, which use the Tu-143 and Tu-243 UAVs, a source in the Russian arms industry told AVN. “In addition to the replacem

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