UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE
23 Feb 09. Northrop Grumman Corporation’s MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV) program moves closer to Operational Evaluation (OpEval) with a recent U.S. Navy modification award to a previous firm fixed-price contract for the procurement of three VTUAV systems. This award, for an amount not to exceed $40m, is the last of three planned low-rate initial production (LRIP) buys. The Navy authorized an LRIP 1 contract to Northrop Grumman for the Fire Scout VTUAV program in June 2007. The program achieved a series of program milestones and the Navy awarded an LRIP 2 contract in September 2008. Under this LRIP 3 contract, the company will provide the Navy with three complete MQ-8B Fire Scouts with electro-optical payloads, three ground control stations, three light harpoon grids, three UAV common automatic recovery systems and six portable electronic display devices. Work is expected to be completed in March 2011. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.
26 Feb 09. The MoD Grand Challenge winning Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV), developed by Marshall Systems Design Group (MSDG), is to be enhanced following the award of a development contract to Team Stellar, holders of the R J Mitchell Trophy. As part of the overall contract MSDG, part of Cambridge based Marshall Land Systems, will be augmenting the onboard processing on the tracked UGV and adding new sensors, including a laser scanner which will assist in the vehicles route following capability. During the 100 day study MSDG’s work will enhance reliability and make the vehicle more rugged before the updated Team Stellar solution is demonstrated to the customer during May 2009. “We are delighted that the Ministry of Defence has asked Marshall Systems Design Group to enhance the unmanned vehicle,” said Peter Callaghan, CEO of Marshall Land Systems. “The contract and the winning entry demonstrated not only the company’s ability to respond with an agile solution for the Grand Challenge and the follow up, but also how as a team all members have acted with integrity in developing a quality solution.”
16 Feb 09. Israeli Aeronautics in $22m Mexico Deal. Mexico’s national police force has inked a $22m deal to acquire air surveillance equipment from Israel’s Aeronautics Defense Systems. The transaction includes an Orbiter mini UAV as well as a Skystar 300, a blimp with onboard cameras offering 24-hour monitoring of surroundings. Aeronautics signed a $125 million contract for the sale of Heron-TP long-range drones to the Canadian armed forces in June. The company says it is also competing for a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars for the delivery of UAS to Germany. (Source: AUVSI/ Agence France Presse)
18 Feb 09. Iran Says It Has Built Unmanned Aircraft. Iran’s Deputy Defense Minister, Ahmad Vahidi, says the country has built a surveillance UAV with a range of more than 600 miles. Iran has in the past reported similar achievements but this is the first time it has been reported by a named official and the range specified. The 600-mile range brings Israel within target, if the claims are true. Iran launched an arms development program during its war with Iraq in the 1980s to compensate for a U.S. arms embargo. (Source: AUVSI/ Associated Press)
23 Feb 09. Lockheed Martin’s Video from Unmanned Aerial Systems for Interoperability Teaming – Level 2 (VUITTM-2) for Apache technology recently began operational use in theater. The VUIT-2 system advanced from design to production in less than seven months to accommodate a rapid fielding request from the U.S. Army Vice Chief of Staff. “VUIT-2 has proven its worth in combat operations,” said Col. Eric Peterson, brigade commander of the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB). The 1-10 Attack Reconnaissance Battalion (ARB), a component of the 10th CAB, was the first VUIT-2-equipped unit and deployed with the system in late