27 Nov 09. Iraq/Afghanistan UAV transfers on hold while Obama mulls troop levels. The US Air Force’s (USAF) strategy of transferring MQ-1 Predator and tactical unmanned aerial systems (UASs) from Iraq to Afghanistan has been put on hold as President Barack Obama mulls US troop levels. According to Colonel Peter Gersten, USAF Commander of the 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing, approximately one MQ-1 system has been transferred to Afghanistan every month for an undisclosed period. (Source: Jane’s)
02 Dec 09. Ion Tiger achieves UAV flight endurance milestone. A US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) experimental unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has achieved a milestone for flight endurance using a hydrogen fuel cell, paving the way for potential lightweight hydrogen-powered operational UAVs in three to five years. The 35 lb (16 kg) Ion Tiger flew for 26 hours and one minute over the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, on 15 and 16 November as part of a navy effort to prove that a hydrogen fuel-cell UAV could carry a 5 lb payload and remain aloft for more than a day. (Source: Jane’s)
08 Dec 09. The first Block 40 configuration of the RQ-4 Global Hawk high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) successfully completed its first flight on Nov. 16. Designated AF-18, the advanced capability aircraft flew for approximately two hours from Northrop Grumman Corporation’s (NYSE: NOC) manufacturing facility in Palmdale, Calif., to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. This first flight also marks the end of an era, as Global Hawk production acceptance activities will transition in the near future from Edwards Air Force Base to Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, improving efficiency and flow of company products. In addition to AF-18, a Block 30 aircraft, AF-19, was recently delivered to the Air Force and is one of 11 major deliveries by the program within the last three months.
07 Dec 09. Russia is negotiating a second purchase of Israeli-made spy drones roughly twice the size of an initial $50m sale announced in April, Israeli defence sources said on Monday.They said the new deal with state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) would be worth about $100m and would feature improved surveillance equipment on the pilotless planes. “The Russians are going for a triple upgrade of their fleet and its capabilities,” a defence source said. IAI declined to comment. Russia’s war with neighbouring Georgia in 2008 exposed an army with largely obsolete equipment and a lack of modern spy drones, defence analysts said. While Georgia used Israeli drones during the five days of fighting, Russia had to rely mainly on its Tu-22 strategic bombers for battlefield intelligence. (Source: Reuters)