UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE
13 Jan 09. China Seeks South Africa’s UAV Technology. A Chinese company called New Era Group is in talks with the Denel Group of South Africa to obtain video cameras and thermal imaging cameras. If successful, the Chinese firms will be able to assemble two kinds of UAVs from Denel—the Golden Eagle and the Seeker II. New Era Group also seeks to transfer African Eagle UAV technologies from Denel. According to a Chinese cooperation program brochure, the African Eagle can support a payload of 500 kilograms and has an estimated combat radius of 750 kilometers. Another technology China is interested in is the South African Angel high-altitude and high-speed UAS for use with precision-guided missiles. In 2007, Denel rebuffed a similar attempt by Chinese firm Norinco to acquire Denel’s Mokopa anti-tank missiles. Norinco had sought to import the technologies, but the talks dissolved. (Source: United Press International/AUVSI)
12 Jan 09. Sagem, a division of Safran, has been named the winner of a study program for France’s Délégation Générale pour l’Armement procurement office. The company will be responsible for designing all the data links for future UAVs, Sagem said in a Jan. 12 statement. This includes line-of-sight and satellite links for air vehicle control as well as operating onboard sensors, according to the company. A key component of the work will involve curbing the use of bandwidth in airborne systems. This is of concern as growing numbers of UAVs are deployed, requiring greater transmission capacity, says a Sagem spokesperson. Signal propagation will be studied using simulations. The initiative includes all categories of UAVs–combat, theater and tactical. For its Sperwer tactical drone, Sagem relied on the Ku-band for the data link. (Source: Defense News/AUVSI)
12 Jan 09. ABP’s Guardian Set to Enter Service. U.K.-based AB Precision has developed a new miniature remotely operated vehicle (MROV) for bomb disposal, called the Guardian, that the company says offers many capabilities not possessed by other vehicles in its class. For example, it is able to reach overhead and down into things and is aware of its position relative to its surroundings. The Guardian will begin bomb disposal service with a NATO country this year, and it could also be usable for nuclear decommissioning, manipulation of dangerous objects and moving sensing equipment to hazardous locations. The MROV uses four independently driven tank-like tracks, which can turn through 360 degrees in independent pairs, allowing great stability in its maximum footprint size while also being reconfigurable to a smaller footprint. The Guardian’s arm can be used to reach upward and downward or along or below the ground to work under vehicles and in manholes, something AB Precision says is unique for this class of vehicles. An operator remotely controls the Guardian from a briefcase-sized console, with four cameras aboard the Guardian providing real-time views around the vehicle. The MROV also has 10 onboard magnetic rotary encoders to provide a degree of autonomy and transmit telemetry data to the base station. (Source: The Engineer (UK)/AUVSI)
20 Jan 09. The Rockwell Collins Athena 411 Inertial Navigation, Global Positioning, Air Data, Attitude, Heading, Reference System (INS/GPS/ADAHRS) has been selected by AeroVironment for their Global Observer. AeroVironment is developing Global Observer, a liquid hydrogen-powered Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) that will fly at an altitude of 65,000 feet for up to seven days, for the U.S. Special Operations Command as well as for other military and civilian applications.
12 Jan 09. Unmanned Vehicles Mimic Insects. BAE Systems has won a five-year, $37m contract to develop mechanical insects, says Aaron Penkacik, chief technology officer for the company’s electronics and integrated systems. The effort is being funded by a U.S. Army research lab. Using BAE’s WolfPack technology, mechanical flies