UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE
05 May 09. A Northrop Grumman Corporation-developed MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV) successfully completed fully autonomous flight operations onboard the USS McInerney (FFG-8) frigate. These operations marked the first time that the Navy operated an autonomous VTUAV aboard a surface combatant vessel. This follows at-sea operations aboard the USS Nashville (LPD-13), which included the first autonomous ship landings by a U.S. Navy Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). This brings the Fire Scout program closer to Operational Evaluation (OpEval) status and eventually to operational status in the fleet. Test flights and OpEval on the USS McInerney are part of the Navy’s risk reduction plan for the VTUAV program in anticipation of eventual test and deployment onboard a Littoral Combat Ship. “The Fire Scout has demonstrated in the past the ability to provide intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance support from a land-based ground control station. This shipboard operation marks a major milestone in Fire Scout’s development cycle,” said Capt. Tim Dunigan, Navy VTUAV Program Manager. “When at sea the most important attribute of a Naval aircraft is to integrate and function well within the shipboard environment and Fire Scout successfully demonstrated that.” The Fire Scout embarked aboard the guided-missile frigate USS McInerney, an Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate, while in port for operational fit checks and ship integration testing on Dec. 10, 2008. The Fire Scout is slated to deploy aboard USS McInerney during its next counter-narcotics trafficking deployment later this year.
06 May 09. iRobot Corp. (Nasdaq: IRBT) today announced that it has received an order totaling $16.8m from the U.S. Army Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation (PEO STRI).
This order marks the first purchase of iRobot’s advanced PackBot 510 series under an existing $200m Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract. The PackBot 510 series provides the Army with advanced robotic capabilities that surpass those of the battle-tested PackBot 500. This is the sixth order under the IDIQ contract. The current total contract value now stands at approximately $22m. This order includes the delivery of 125 PackBot 510 with EOD Kit robots. (Source: ASD Network)
22 Apr 09. Transas completes trials of new reconnaissance UAV. Russia’s Transas has announced the completion of trials of a new reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) – the Dozor-4 – using a company-developed control system. At the same time, work has already begun on an even larger UAV, the Dozor-5. In 2008 Transas demonstrated the Dozor-4 to the Russian border service with test flights over Kuznetsovo near St Petersburg and near the Jepel border post in Dagestan. (Source: Jane’s, IDR)
05 May 09. Lockheed Martin has successfully completed flight testing of a new signals intelligence (SIGINT) payload and a next generation wing design that will provide enhanced capabilities for the company’s small Desert Hawk III (DHIII) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). Lockheed Martin’s current DHIII is an open architecture system that consists of three key components: a light-weight, hand-launched, rugged air vehicle with a number of snap-on payloads (Plug and PlayloadsTM); a portable ground station; and a remote video terminal. The air vehicle’s quiet operation and 360-degree optical turret provides the war fighter with stealthy, autonomous intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. The system also includes programmable terrain avoidance and dynamic flight re-tasking options for the operator. The British Army has used DHIII extensively in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The recent DHIII flight tests mark the first time a SIGINT payload has successfully flown onboard a small UAS platform. The new payload option will significantly expand the DHIII’s surveillance capabilities b