UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE
21 May 08. If Congress fails to pass a fiscal 2009 defense appropriations bill – leaving military spending at 2008 levels for the near term – it would cause numerous planning and contracting problems, the Pentagon’s top civilian and uniformed officials said May 20. For example, according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the department would not have 14 Predator unmanned aerial vehicles it was counting on for fiscal 2009. Also, nearly $9bn targeted to increase the size of the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps would be lost, as well as $1bn for search and rescue and $246m to stand up Africa Command, Gates told the Senate defense appropriations subcommittee. A continuing resolution (CR) to keep funding the Defense Department without an appropriations bill – but at the previous fiscal year’s levels – could have a “devastating impact” on both ongoing operations and acquisition programs, said Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “It brings the organization almost to a halt, and then when you get to execute, you execute very inefficient, very late contracts, which is a significant waste of money,” Mullen added.Gates said any incremental increase in funding from FY ’08 to FY ’09 would be lost under a CR. (Source: Aviation Week)
05 Jun 08. QinetiQ North America Ships First MAARS Robot. QinetiQ North America’s Technology Solutions Group has shipped the first MAARS ground robot to the US military under a contract from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal/Low-Intensity Conflict (EOD/LIC) Program within the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO). MAARS (Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System) is the first fully modular ground robot system capable of providing a measured response including non-lethal, less-lethal and even lethal stand-off capabilities.
27 May 08. AeroVironment, Inc. has been awarded a Phase II contract by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to design and build a flying prototype for the Nano Air Vehicle (NAV) program. AV completed a preliminary design review at the end of its Phase I, $1.7 million program. Phase II, which was initiated in March, is a new six-month, $636,000 development program that will culminate with the demonstration of a rudimentary, three-inch flapping-wing air vehicle system. Following a successful demonstration, DARPA has the option to extend the program for an additional 18 months which could increase the Phase II contract value. The NAV program was initiated by DARPA to develop a new class of air vehicles capable of indoor and outdoor operations. Employing biological mimicry at an extremely small scale this unconventional aircraft is designed to provide new military reconnaissance capabilities in urban environments. AV’s NAV is designed to weigh no more than 10 grams and have the ability to carry a payload of up to 2 grams. AV’s NAV team also developed the Black Widow and Wasp MAVs for DARPA.
30 May 08. The Netherlands Ministry of Defence, acting through its Defence Materiel Organization (DMO), has awarded AV a contract for RQ-11B (Raven) small unmanned aircraft systems. The order includes new aircraft systems as well as training, logistics support, and airworthiness certification. Each Raven system typically consists of three aircraft, a ground control station, a remote video terminal, system spares, and related services. The total award value is $7.7m and is fully funded. AV’s Raven is a 4.2-pound, backpackable, hand-launched sensor platform that provides day and night, real-time video imagery for “over the hill” and “around the corner” reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition in support of tactical units. U.S. armed forces use Ravens extensively for missions such as base security, route reconnaissance, mission planning and force protection. In addition to Raven, AV’s small UAS include Puma and Wasp, which are also hand-launched and controlled by AV’s hand-held ground control station. AV’s UAS lo