UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE
20 Mar 09. UK sets up Reaper UAV training unit at Creech AFB. A UK-run operational conversion unit (OCU) has been stood up at Creech Air Force Base (AFB) in Nevada to qualify UK aircrew to operate the General Atomics MQ-9 Predator B (Reaper) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Wing Commander Andy Jeffrey, the commanding officer of the UK’s sole Reaper unit, told Jane’s that the first two-person crew, made up of a pilot and sensor operator, successfully passed out from the UK OCU in mid-March. (Source: Jane’s, JDW)
30 Mar 09. Oshkosh Defense, a division of Oshkosh Corporation is working in conjunction with the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) to develop and evaluate potential new and innovative uses of the company’s autonomous technology. As a result, Oshkosh will gain the military application data needed to refine its autonomous technology and move it closer to production. The NSWC will be sponsoring these cooperative operations, which will involve Oshkosh’s unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), TerraMax™, and take place at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. TerraMax is based on Oshkosh’s Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR) 4×4, and the NSWC will investigate the use of TerraMax as a Roboticized-MTVR (R-MTVR) in different mission-specific scenarios. If successful, the work could lead to new uses of UGVs and autonomous technologies on the battlefield.
31 Mar 09. With five missions the Sky-Y, Alenia Aeronautica’s unmanned technological demonstrator, has completed its first series of tests in Italy. With this tests campaign the Sky-Y has to day accumulated three test phases, two in Sweden and one in Italy. Thanks to the Permit To Fly granted by ENAC – Ente Nazionale per l’Aviazione Civile (National Agency for the Civil Aviation), the Sky-Y has accomplished this flight testing cycle in an area in the Puglia Region, defined for this purpose. The test campaign in Italy of the Sky-Y, the only European-made unmanned vehicle to make flight tests and the only one equipped with European sensors and production systems, has taken place in March, and has allowed the testing of some automatic functions of the ground surveillance mission systems; these are key elements to fully assess the operational capabilities of the production machines which will have in the future to be used for this role. In particular, the tests campaign has brought to continuing the carrying out of the tests on the EOST-45 electro-optical sensor of SELEX Galileo – started in Sweden in the 2008 Autumn – and on the real-time data transmission via satellite. In detail, the satellite link made by Telespazio has been used to test real-time data and images transmission with the Civil Defence Agency, during missions which simulated ground surveillance, fire control, detection and monitoring of boats’ and crafts’ traffic and of signalling of possible shipwrecked persons. The tests recently completed in Italy have concerned also the functionalities of advanced management of the EOST-45 sensor, through an On Board Mission Computer (OBMC) provided with a software developed by Alenia Aeronautica; among such functionalities: target’s automatic tracking, automatic scan of pre-defined areas, definition of the geographical coordinates of the surface target under observation, on land and also, for the first time, on sea.
31 Mar 09. The U.S. Army is improving integration between the existing Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL) and the Future Combat Systems (FCS) network to better share data among UAVs, Army leaders told the House Appropriations defense subcommittee March 31. As recently as several months ago, it was not clear how effectively TCDL would synchronize with the soon-to-be deployed FCS network. Then, Pentagon and Army Aviation leaders decided to create new standards for moving data between UAVs, allowing better interoperability among today’s Shadow, Hunter, Predator and Warrior UAVs and FCS UAVs such as the Class I Micro Air Vehicle and Cl