UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE
12 Mar 09. Britain’s Ministry of Defence is to extend a UAV-by-the-hour deal with Thales UK that provides the military in Afghanistan with key intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance capabilities. Company officials attending an engineering and science event here March 11 confirmed that they are close to completing arrangements for the ISTAR deal to run through to the in-service date of the British Army’s Watchkeeper UAV system scheduled for 2011. Thales has been providing the service for British forces since mid-2007 to help plug a gap in British ISTAR capabilities in Afghanistan and Iraq. Under an urgent operational requirement deal with the MoD, Thales provides the Elbit Hermes 450 tactical UAV, contractor logistics support and program management services. It also trains the military in the use and maintenance of the system. The UAV-by-the-hour service has drawn considerable attention from Canada, France and other NATO nations that need similarly rapid hikes in ISTAR capabilities. (Source: Defense News)
16 Mar 09. U.S. warplanes shot down an Iranian drone inside Iraqi airspace north of Baghdad last month, an American military spokesman said March 16. “This was not an accident on the part of the Iranians,” the unnamed spokesman said in a statement, without elaborating. “The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was in Iraqi airspace for nearly one hour and 10 minutes and well inside Iraqi territory before it was engaged.” The drone was about 60 miles (100 kilometers) from Baghdad, he said. “Coalition multi-role jet fighters shot down an Iranian UAV February 25,” the statement said. “The pilots were directed to shoot the UAV down after determining there would be no possibility of collateral damage. The UAV was believed to be an Iranian ‘Ababil 3’ model UAV.” (Source: Defense News)
16 Mar 09. The Délégation Générale pour l’Armement has just entrusted CILAS with the task of conducting a Prior Studies Programme concerning the possibility of detecting and tracking small airborne targets by means of a high-resolution active laser imaging system. Small airborne targets such as UAVs have become a new threat which is taking on increasing importance on battlefields. At present they are difficult to detect and identify. CILAS has been entrusted with this study on account of its expertise in high-resolution active laser imaging. The aim is to quantify the contribution this technology can make to detecting, tracking and identifying these new targets. This entails validation of the first phase of a process making it possible to move on to the jamming and damaging of UAVs by high-power lasers.
11 Mar 09. By this summer, combat troops in Afghanistan could be getting re-supplied by giant unmanned aerial vehicles, a U.S. Marine Corps general told Congress on March 11. The Marines are working with industry to build a cargo-carrying UAV capable of hauling up to 1,200 pounds of battlefield essentials – such as ammunition, water and batteries – to ground troops in remote places, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. John Amos told the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on defense. The move is part of a short-term plan to find new ways to reduce the weight Marines carry into combat. Details are sketchy, but Amos said “I’m looking for something now. We want to get a solution into Afghanistan by this summer.” Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli, who also testified at the hearing, told Army Times in an interview that he was unsure if the Army will use cargo UAVs in the future. He said that the Army has been able to deliver up to 26,000 pounds of supplies a day using precision air drop. (Source: Defense News)