UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE
16 Jul 09. The European Defence Agency has contracted Rheinmetall Defence to develop a €4m unmanned vehicle platform that could assist soldiers in the search for improvised explosive devices. The project will initially construct a demonstrator version to display the future role that unmanned vehicles could play in protecting troops deployed in hazardous operations. The Semi-Autonomous Unmanned Ground Vehicle System Demonstrator will be an all-terrain vehicle roughly the size of a quad bike and weighing between 300kg and 400kg. The vehicle will have a range of 400km and will be operable up to 24 hours to conduct long-range patrolling and monitoring missions. The vehicle will feature a satellite-supported inertial navigation system as well as 3-D laser radar, a camera system and ultrasonic sensors to avoid obstacles. Three other companies Diehl BGT Defence, ECA and Thales Optronique are involved in the project.
15 Jul 09. Air Force leaders ushered in a new era of airpower capabilities with the approval of the Air Force Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight Plan June 23 by Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. The plan, which was developed by the Air Force’s UAS Task Force, outlines a coordinated strategy for UAS integration across all Air Force core functions. It articulates a common vision and prescribes critical first steps necessary for ensuring that growing demands and contributions of these critical assets are maximized for the joint force. “We must move away from the notion of UAS as a separate, minor Air Force capability,” said Col. Eric Mathewson, director of the UAS Task Force. “In order for UAS to be institutionalized, they must be integrated into Air Force programs, plans, processes and culture.” The vision articulated by the UAS Flight Plan merges the unique characteristics and capabilities of UAS with Air Force core functions and joint force priorities. And while the vision does not prescribe replacement of manned missions, it does identify viable UAS alternatives for some. There are several capabilities that will revolutionize UAS operations, one of which is multi-aircraft control, which, General Schwartz said, the program should move toward. The evolution of UAS capabilities is outlined in Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership and Education, Personnel, Facilities and Policy terms in three phases: near, mid and far. (Source: ASD Network)
02 Jul 09. BAE Systems has been contracted by Australia’s Defense Department to conduct a new capability and technology demonstrator program into unmanned surveillance technologies, and the work will be an extension of recent flight tests performed for the Australian air force. Earlier this year the firm deployed a production-standard Herti air vehicle to the Woomera test range to support a Royal Australian Air Force probe into the use of unmanned aircraft to capture and disseminate intelligence data. BAE’s Brad Yelland says the key focus points of the new contract will include greater autonomy during target detection and recognition, on-board image processing to reduce bandwidth demands and the employment of concurrent location and mapping methods to reduce reliance on global positioning system guidance. The study will wrap up with flight demonstrations of BAE’s Kingfisher 2 aircraft, which will use “real-world targets” and “scenarios that are realistic and representative of the operational environments in which the Australian Defense Force is currently employed,” according to Yelland. In the meantime, BAE’s first production example of the Herti is in Australia awaiting its maiden flight, which will trial a new multifunction sensor turret. Also being prepared for its first flight at Woomera is BAE’s Mantis tactical unmanned vehicle demonstrator. (Source: AUVSI/Flight International)
10 Jul 09. Northrop Grumman Mission Systems, Electromagnetic Systems Laboratory, San Jose, Cal