UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE
02 Mar 09. Australia has announced it is pulling out of the US Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) project with government citing a combination of programme slippage and workforce pressures as the basis for its decision. Australia had been planning to acquire up to six Northrop Grumman RQ-4N Global Hawk unmanned air systems through membership of the BAMS project, but with formal government acquisition approvals repeatedly deferred over the past year. Defence minister Joel Fitzgibbon says that the “delivery schedule for the United States Navy’s BAMS program has slipped and resulted in the earliest possible in-service date for the BAMS aircraft moving out to 2015. “Introducing such an advanced new aircraft at this time would have caused incredible workforce pressures on the Australian Defence Force, particularly given the requirement to transition the Air Force’s AP-3C Orion fleet to a new manned surveillance aircraft in the same time period” Fitzgibbon claims the withdrawal decision represents “swift action to alleviate these transitional issues by declining the option to continue on with further collaboration with the United States Navy’s developmental program at this time.” Australia has missed two deadlines from the US Navy for a formal commitment to the acquisition phase of the BAMS programme while also repeatedly sliding its own timeframes for what was intended as an “intermediate” approval to ratify the selection of the RQ-4N.
Fitzgibbon says “Defence will continue to closely monitor the progression of BAMS and other similar unmanned aircraft programs.” He says requirements for new “broader intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities will be fully covered” in a new national defence white paper due for release mid year. Pre-empting potential adverse reactions in the US to the Australian decision, Fitzgibbon says “the Australian Government has every confidence that the United States Navy BAMS program will deliver a very capable uninhabited aircraft. However, at this stage in the development of this project, it is in Australia’s best interests to not knowingly risk incurring the unmanageable workforce chaos that would result. “Blindly pushing on with the program would have placed a huge and unnecessary
strain on our personnel in trying to potentially manage three separate airframes at the one time and I was not prepared to place this unnecessary burden on our men and women in uniform.” (Source: Shephard)
05 Mar 09. Germany is to contribute 400m euros towards the construction of a ground surveillance system that NATO partners hope to operate from 2012, a defence ministry letter seen by Reuters showed on Thursday.
The Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS), a system allowing NATO to survey wide surface areas from high altitude, is to cost the 17 participating nations around €1.5bn ($1.89bn) in total. Defence ministers agreed on the project in February. The main beneficiary of the system would be Northrop Grumman Corp, which would provide eight Global Hawk surveillance drones, the letter sent by deputy defence minister Ruediger Wolf to the parliamentary defence committee showed. European aerospace group EADS (EAD.PA) is to take a lead role in the development of 15 ground stations, it said. “With this project, some 100 jobs will be secured at EADS and German sub-contractors over three years,” the letter said. Other sub-contracts are to go to Finmeccanica unit Selex Galileo and General Dynamics Corp. The partners involved hope to conclude the contracts by October 2009, the letter said. In Germany, the Bundestag lower house of parliament’s defence and budget committees have to approve the plans in May or June. (Source: Google/Reuters)
05 Mar 09. Turkey is waiting for US approval for Predator and Reaper UAV. Turkey, which has applied to the US government for the purchase of two Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems, one of them armed, is now awaiting approval fro