UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE
09 Feb 09. QinetiQ has extended its TALON family of robots, 2,500 of which have already been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, to ensure it continues to meet the ever-changing demands of detecting and clearing mines, unexploded ordnance and dangerous improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from a safe distance. Detection and clearance of mines is of particular importance in Afghanistan, where large numbers of landmines litter the countryside as a result of almost continuous fighting since the late 1970s injuring 200,000 people according to United Nations estimates. The new TALON IV Engineer robot is particularly well suited to operations in the region with a longer, stronger reach, stronger grasp, and the ability to right itself. Key features of the TALON IV Engineer robot include a full-swivel manipulator arm combined with a seven-foot reach. This means a portable mine detector can be taken out of a soldier’s hands and mounted on the robot, so the search can be conducted remotely. Because the arm is longer, stronger and able to swivel, the robot can now also be used to remotely search inside bins, in higher vehicle cabs and flatbeds plus behind guard rails or other obstacles. The arm is also capable of lifting 65 pounds (30 kilograms), which means soldiers can clear heavy debris off IEDs remotely too. Since its initial deployment in 2000, the TALON family of robots has expanded to include small, medium and large robots devoted to specific tasks, such as IED disposal, reconnaissance, hazardous materials detection, combat engineering support and Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) unit assistance. New robots introduced in the last year include MAARS™ and Dragon Runner™ SUGV which address the military’s need for standoff protection, over and above the successful use of TALON for counter-IED missions. Today, 2,500 TALON robots are deployed with the US military – far surpassing the deployment of any other military-use robot. They are also being evaluated or used by a growing number of other military and civil customers.
04 Feb 09. The U.S. Navy has altered – only slightly – its schedule for developing and testing the new Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) unmanned aerial system (UAS) after an industry protest put the effort on hold temporarily last year. The first aircraft will begin testing in fiscal 2012, says Capt. Bob Dishman, the Navy’s program manager for maritime UAS. Earlier plans called for flight testing as early as 2011. Low-rate production is now expected to begin in FY ‘13, and initial operational capability is slated to take place by early FY ‘16, he says, a slight slip from earlier hopes in 2015. Northrop Grumman won the $1.6bn development contract in April after proposing a Global Hawk-based system carrying a 360-degree mechanically steered active electronically scanned array radar. The company beat an offering from a Lockheed Martin and General Atomics, which pitched a maritime-oriented version of the Predator UAS. (Source: Aviation Week)
05 Feb 09. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. successfully demonstrated the ability to detect slow moving targets with a two-channel version of its Lynx® Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). “The Dual Beam feature enhances Lynx’s GMTI [ground moving target indicator] capability, enabling it also to identify ‘slow movers’ with greater precision accuracy than the existing configuration,” said Linden P. Blue, president, Reconnaissance Systems Group, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. “It further expands the proven tactical value of Lynx SAR, providing operators with a more powerful tool for tracking slow movers and cuing onboard EO/IR [electrical-optical/infrared] video sensors.” The Lynx radar was modified under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA’s) Dual Beam Development Program. Under the program, a Space Time Adaptive Processing (STAP) upgrade to the baseline Lynx radar was developed in cooperation with BAE Syste