UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE
13 Oct 08. On 9 and 10 October 2008, DCNS successfully landed a rotary-wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in automatic mode on French Navy frigate Montcalm while the ship was under way in the Mediterranean. Until now, unresolved challenges involving UAV recovery by ships at sea have limited their deployment for safety reasons. The experimental solutions available to date have only worked reliably during daylight and in calm seas; two severe limitations for systems that are required to operate round the clock and in poor weather. To overcome these shortcomings, DCNS developed the SADA automatic deck landing and take-off system. SADA takes less than 2 minutes to land a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAV on a moving flight deck up to sea state 5. SADA uses an infrared sensor to accurately track the UAV while generating flight commands to adjust the trajectory until the UAV is positioned to ensure that its harpoon engages the centre of the landing grid. Tracking accuracy is 30 cm which is far better than that achieved by GPS-only systems. Overall safety and reliability are thus assured. SADA features an open architecture and can be readily and unobtrusively integrated with any VTOL UAV and any type of ship. This success is the result of close cooperation between DCNS and Austrian company Schiebel, manufacturer of the Camcopter S-100 UAV that performed the demonstration.
16 Oct 08. Britain, France and Sweden have signed an agreement to jointly fund technology studies for a compact, lightweight radar for UAVs, the Délégation Générale pour l’Armement (DGA) procurement office said Oct. 13. The agreement, signed Sept. 18, commits the three governments to match funds over four years provided by industry to total €21m ($28.5m)
under the SIMCLAIRS program (Studies for Integrated Multifunction Compact
Lightweight Airborne Radars & Systems). A contract is under negotiation and will be signed by the European Defence Agency for the governments and defense systems company Thales, leader of an industrial consortium including Selex and Saab. (Source: Defense News)
06 Oct 08. In response to Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ request for more surveillance aircraft in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Army is sending new unit of remote-controlled aircraft, similar to one fielded in Iraq two years ago, to Afghanistan to aid in combat and surveillance efforts. After being condemned for having too many remote-control planes in the United States for training purposes, it also will send more Shadow remote-control planes and will adapt them to stay in the air longer. The Air Force, meanwhile, plans on increasing the amount of air patrols by unmanned aircraft by December. “We’re trying to get every bit of capacity downrange to support the combatant commander,” says Col. Eric Mathewson, director of the Air Force Unmanned Aerial Systems Task Force. (Source: AUVSI)
Oct 08. The German Ministry of Defence will choose a contractor for its medium altitude long endurance (MALE) unmanned air vehicle in December, with the winner being awarded an initial $95 million contract. The finalists for the contract are Israel Aerospace Industries’ Heron-TP and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems’ Predator B. The selected MALE UAV will be operated in Afghanistan in tandem with five Northrop Grumman/EADS EuroHawk high altitude long endurance vehicles that have already been ordered. (Source: Flight/AUVSI)
10 Oct 08. Italian Air Force Flies Strix Mini UAV in NATO Trials. The Italian air force is flying the Italian-made Strix mini UAV in Sardinia as part of a NATO trial of several UAV models, including the Italian army’s Raven as well as U.S.-operated Maveric, Raven, Vector-P, and Wasp. The Strix, which can be launched by hand or catapult and is planned for use by special forces, was sold to the Italian air force and to marketer Selex Galileo by Alpi Aviation, a small Italian company. The Strix’s maximum payload weight is 3.3 pounds and