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17 Jun 08. MoD announces public consultation on UAV airspace expansion. The increasing sophistication of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) used by UK Armed Forces means that the current airspace above Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire is now insufficient to accommodate the full training requirement. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is therefore undertaking public consultation on proposals to extend the existing segregated airspace to include an additional area to the south of the Salisbury Plain Training Area. The proposed new area of operation, bounded by Warminster, Andover, Stockbridge and Shaftesbury, would only be activated when required for training, predominantly during normal working hours. It would include additional airspace to provide separation from civil air traffic when activated. Following initial discussion with various organisations, the public consultation period will last until late September, and will include drop-in sessions at Salisbury Guildhall on 22 July and 30 August from 2pm to 6pm. Its aim is to seek comment and feedback on the proposals from interested parties. “Watchkeeper, the MoD’s new tactical UAV, is likely to be the first UAV to utilise the proposed airspace, which extends from 8,000 to 16,000 feet. At those altitudes it will be difficult for a ground observer to see or hear the UAV,” said Commander Dennis Ryan from the MoD project team. The proposed new airspace may affect a small proportion of the aviation community that currently uses this airspace, but procedures will be put in place to ensure anydisruption is kept to an absolute minimum.”

16 Jun 08. In the wake of the U.S. Air Force leadership shake up, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is directing the service to field six more Predator combat air patrols (CAPs), as well as more Reapers to support operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The order comes shortly after Gates’ first briefing from the new Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) Task Force June 6. He set up the task force in April, explaining during a speech at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., that getting warfighting support from institutional military — namely, the Air Force — was “like pulling teeth.” A lack of support for the ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was one of several reasons cited by insiders and observers for his abrupt ousting of Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley. (Source: Aviation Week)

Jun 08. iRobot Corp. announced the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Army Research Office have awarded the company a new multi-year, multi-million dollar R&D project to develop Chemical Robots (ChemBots). The goal of this program is to develop a soft, flexible, mobile robot that can identify and maneuver through openings smaller than its actual structural dimensions to perform Department of Defense (DoD) tasks within complex and highly cluttered environments. As the established leader in innovative robotics research and development, iRobot will lead a team composed of leading technical experts from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to incorporate advances in chemistry, materials science, actuator technologies, electronics, sensors and fabrication techniques into ChemBots engineering. The resulting revolutionary new robot platform designs will expand the capabilities of robots in urban search and rescue, as well as reconnaissance missions. (Source: Shephard)

13 Jun 08. BAE Systems launched its latest reconnaissance and close air support unmanned autonomous system (UAS) aircraft, called Fury. The manufacturer said Fury shared a similar airframe and some vehicle system components with its high-endurance rapid technology insertion (Herti) reconnaissance and surveillance UAS, but featured latest generation mission systems avionics, a newly-developed stores-management-system and a proven weapon-guidance-system. Further, the UAS had been armed w

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