UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE
17 Dec 08. The French defence procurement agency (DGA) has awarded DCNS and Thales an advanced study contract for a deck landing system for unmanned aerial vehicles. The three-year contract calls for the design and demonstration of an automatic take-off, landing and deck landing system for rotorcraft UAVs.
The system will be a vital component of future tactical UAV programmes, notably for the French Navy and the French Army. The project aims to provide reproducible, risk-controlled demonstrations of deck take-offs and landings with the required discretion in a range of environmental, weather and sea state conditions, as needed for fully autonomous UAV operation. Initial landing tests are scheduled for 2009 with a view to demonstrating fully autonomous deck landing in high sea states on a French Navy frigate in 2011. DCNS and Thales have combined their expertise and experience for this project and will
develop the system under a co-contracting agreement. Thales is responsible for the landing system, the UAV system and the trajectory control system. DCNS is responsible for ship motion prediction, the deck landing strategy and for securing the UAV to the flight deck. DCNS will draw on its experience in flight deck operations and the naval UAV integration study contract it won in 2005. In October this year, DCNS demonstrated its know-how in this area when it automatically recovered a lightweight rotorcraft UAV on the flight deck of a French frigate off Toulon. The DCNS subsidiary Sirehna also has proven expertise in ship motion prediction. Thales will leverage its experience on tactical UAV programmes in the United Kingdom, including its automatic all-weather landing system for fixed-wing UAVs, which was successfully tested by the UK Ministry of Defence in mid-2008 as part of the Watchkeeper programme. It will also draw on the results of the joint forces VTOL UAV study contract undertaken for the DGA in 2005 with the support of Boeing. Boeing will also be associated with this latest contract.
14 Dec 08. Iran Drones to Monitor Enemy From Sky. Iran has announced the manufacture of a new generation of “spy drones” capable of providing real-time aerial intelligence. “Iran’s domestically-manufactured micro unmanned aerial vehicle would be used in research projects,” Mahmoud Mani, head of the aerospace faculty at Iran’s Amir Kabir University of Technology, was quoted as telling Fars News Agency, though such UAVs are generally designed for surveillance, reconnaissance and other covert missions. News of the development comes at a time when Iran is pursuing military self-sufficiency amid rising speculation of a possible Israeli attack over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. (Source: AUVSI)
16 Dec 08. Elbit Systems Ltd. was selected by the Israeli Defense Ministry to answer the battalion-level IDF tender, calling for a wide procurement of mini-UAVs for all IDF Ground Forces battalions, including training and logistics support. The procurement potential is evaluated at dozens of million USD, in accordance with IDF’s requirements and procurement process. Elbit Systems’ Skylark® I LE has been selected by the IDF following an extensive evaluation process, including operational ability to answer the high requirements of the IDF, based on its rich operational experience. The Skylark® I LE is based on the accumulated experience acquired by the Skylark® I, in thousands of operational hours performed , in various battlefields, including Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan. Elbit Systems’ UAV family has served the IDF in recent years in counter terror missions and took an operational part in Israel’s second Lebanon War. The upgraded UAV includes additional unique features, to significantly improve its operational capabilities and offers the IDF a highly advanced UAV.
16 Dec 08. Northrop Grumman today unveiled the first of the U.S. Navy’s new unmanned combat aircraft at a ceremony here attended by Navy officials, state and lo