UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE
10 Aug 09. Britain’s defence companies are preparing plans to pitch this week for one of the biggest contracts to be handed out by the MoD. They were summoned to a meeting last week, at which the MoD outlined
requirements for the next generation of UAVs. The contract to develop and operate the UAVs is worth billions to the winning consortium and could last for a generation, opening a potentially lucrative export market for victorious companies. Groups across Europe are positioning themselves to take advantage of a surge in orders for UAVs and the negotiations have been likened to those 30 years ago that led to the creation of the Eurofighter Typhoon, Europe’s principal fighter jet. Unmanned aircraft have been so successful in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan undertaken by the United States and Britain that they are widely expected to become the future of air surveillance and combat. They are used to track individuals and vehicles, to provide intelligence to ground troops and to target missiles. There are also plans to create combat versions that eventually would be capable of replacing manned fighters such as the Typhoon. BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Cobham, QinetiQ, Thales, EADS and Selex met ministry officials last week to be briefed on Britain’s UAV requirements. The Times has spoken to several of the participants and understands that the MoD’s priority is to develop medium altitude long endurance (MALE) aircraft, capable of spending a day at heights of up to 60,000ft, providing ground surveillance and airspace monitoring. In addition, the MoD will continue to invest in a research programme headed by BAE into an unmanned combat aircraft called Taranis. The ministry has also told the defence contractors that they must work together to ensure that all UAVs use the same ground stations and analysis equipment to prevent costly duplication. In Britain, BAE, Rolls-Royce and QinetiQ are developing Mantis as their offering in the MALE UAV sector. Thales and Dassault are working on a French model called Neuron, while EADS is building a German, French and Spanish system called Talarion. At present the ministry leases Reaper UAVs from General Atomics, of the United
States, for use in Afghanistan and it may choose to buy these rather than develop an expensive, independent solution. The situation is further complicated by the fact that several European governments are understood to favour working together to develop a joint approach, which has become common practice because of the high cost of defence projects. (Source: The Times)
31 Jul 09. Northrop Grumman Corporation has finished assembling the first Euro Hawk(r) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) for the German Ministry of Defence (MoD). With a wing span larger than a commercial airliner and endurance projected at up to 30 hours, the Euro Hawk(r) will serve as the German Air Force’s high-altitude, long-endurance signals intelligence (SIGINT) system.
10 Aug 09. In late July, SELEX Galileo, of Finmeccanica, performed a series of catapult launches of the Falco UAV, using the MC2555LLRR launcher from Robonic at the Robonic Arctic Test UAV Flight Centre (RATUFC) in Finnish Lapland. The activity was primarily aimed at populate launch statistics, consolidation of adopted operational procedures and expansion of the launch envelope, thus arriving to test extreme launch conditions featured by high exit ground speeds, representative of hot and high conditions in heavy take off weight configurations, as can be expected in dual payload missions operated from hot plateaus. The planned launches were all performed in short sequence thanks to the reduced launcher recovery time and to the consolidated pre-launch procedures, thus demonstrating less than 45 minutes delay between each landing and the next launch, inclusive of refuelling, loading and pre-flight checks. Launches provided an evidence, as well, of launcher’s performance and FALCO’s System versatility, being