UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE
29 May 09. The Northrop Grumman Corporation-developed MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV) successfully completed the latest set of fully autonomous flight operations onboard the USS McInerney (FFG-8) in support of dynamic interface testing. This was a critical step for the U.S. Navy MQ-8B Fire Scout toward Operational Evaluation (OpEval), scheduled for later this summer. These recent flight tests took place May 4-8 off the coast of
Mayport, Fla. The U.S. Navy Fire Scout completed test flights in areas of shipboard deck motion and wind envelope expansion and landings including the use of the grid and harpoon system. All flights onboard the USS McInerney included use of the shipboard UAV Common Auto Recovery System (UCARS) used for vehicle position data during shipboard landings. During the five days of testing, the ship/aircraft team compiled 19 flight hours during 12 flights, which included 54 landings, 37 of which were into the NATO standard grid. Operations were conducted with ship speeds up to 14 knots, ship roll up to five degrees, and wind over deck of up to 25 knots. All test events were completed satisfactorily, which will set the stage for OpEval. “The Navy Fire Scout has successfully completed fully autonomous flight operations onboard the USS McInerney and we are thrilled with the results. The recent success allows us to continue to work towards OpEval,” said Doug Fronius, MQ-8B Fire Scout VTUAV program director for Northrop Grumman’s Aerospace Systems sector. “We look forward to continuing to mature Fire Scout, as it will bring us closer to supplying the fleet with a VTUAV that provides unprecedented situational awareness and precision targeting support.”
02 Jun 09. AeroVironment, Inc., Monrovia, Calif., was awarded on May 28, 2009, a $5,437,556 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract in which AeroVironment, Inc., (AV) offers DARPA the Stealthy, Persistent, Perch and Stare Air Vehicle System (SP2S). The (SP2S) system fills the need for close-range surveillance and reconnaissance missions. This system also combines the strategic capability of stealthy operations with mission-adaptable perch and stare observation modes. The current SP2S Phase 11B program ends with delivery quantity five (5) Block 0 systems and the initial military user evaluation (LTE). The purpose of the LTE is to verify the utility of such a small VTOL perch and Stare system (currently no such system exists). It is also the first opportunity to identify the shortfalls and areas within the system that require improvements or design changes to meet the needs of the users. The additional work was required to take the military users feedback and refine/upgrade the system to meet diverse requirements of a wide group of users. This task would then result in the delivery of ten (10) upgraded systems for a second LTE. Work is to be performed at Simi Valley, Calif., (85 precent), and at Stanford University, Stanford, Calif., (15 precent), with an estimated completion date of May 3, 2010. Bids were solicited by Broad Agency Announcement with over 100 bids received. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Contracts Management Office, Arlington, Va., is the contracting activity (HR0011-07-C-0075).
28 May 09. Researchers are investigating several ways to build UAVs that can generate their own electrical power. The Air Force is studying ways to integrate solar technology into the materials used to build unmanned aerial vehicles, thus reducing the size and weight of the aircraft while lengthening flight time. Funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, researcher Max Shtein and his team at the University of Michigan are investigating several device applications, one being thin-film solar cells reshaped and coated onto long continuous filaments or fibers. Shtein is receiving $200,000 per year for five years to conduct the research. The semiconductor-coated fibers can b