17 Dec 09. The U.S. military is adding more drones and expanding its video surveillance in the skies over Afghanistan to meet the needs of American forces as 30,000 more troops head into the war zone, a top Air Force general said Wednesday. The bolstered eyes in the sky will come from a mix of manned and unmanned aircraft and added technology that allows each MQ-9 Reaper drone to collect 10 video transmissions and beam them back to 10 different users on the ground, Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula, deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, told reporters. Deptula’s comments came as Defense Secretary Robert Gates continues to press the Air Force to find ways to more rapidly provide better intelligence to the U.S. and its allies in Afghanistan. The first troop units of the surge ordered by President Barack Obama have begun to arrive in Afghanistan, a Pentagon official said Wednesday, adding to the 68,000 U.S. forces already deployed to counter emboldened insurgents. Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said a Marine battalion ordered to move in earlier this month already has “some boots on the ground,” with the rest to be flown in before Christmas. “So the surge has begun in earnest,” he said. Deptula provided the most detailed assessment to date of the Air Force plans to meet ground troops’ needs for more intelligence and surveillance data. He said the expanded air capabilities would be added over the next eight months. He would not provide any details on the operation of the Air Force’s latest model of its stealth reconnaissance drones, known as the Beast of Kandahar. And he would not specify how many other drones were being sent to Afghanistan. The aircraft reportedly resembles the much larger, swept-wing B-2 Stealth bomber, and officials confirmed this month that the military has begun using the classified, unarmed drone in Afghanistan. According to Deptula, the Air Force also will be sending its first MC-12W piloted surveillance plane to Afghanistan this month. Six of the turboprop aircraft are operating in Iraq, and he said the Air Force plans to have a total of 30 in Iraq and Afghanistan by late summer. In addition, he said new, high-tech video sensors, called the Gorgon Stare, are being installed on Reaper unmanned drones and will be in Afghanistan by late summer.
The new sensors will allow the Reaper to cover a much broader area, estimated at 2 1/2 square miles, and send 10 video streams to 10 different receivers with troops on the ground. Larger ground stations would be able to receive as many as 50 video streams. (Source: Military.com/AP)
22 Dec 09. Turkey has reached an agreement with Israel to purchase 10 Heron drones from Israel and a deal would be announced within one or two days, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) said on Tuesday. “We’ve reached agreement with procurement office. We expect to announce an agreement within a few days,” TAI Chief Executive Muharrem Dortkasli told
reporters. Turkey and Israel signed a deal in 2005 for the supply of the unmanned aircraft, worth $185m. Turkish Defence Minister Vecdi Gonul in July denied reports published in the Israeli media that the deal would be cancelled due to the delay in the project. Speculation about the project’s cancellation had mounted amid escalating tensions between regional allies Israel and Turkey, which had sharply criticised
Israel’s Palestinian policies, especially the Gaza offensive it launched in December 2009. TAI is partners in the venture to build the Herons with Air Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Israeli defence manufacturer Elbit (ESLT.TA) (ESLT.O). (Source: Google)
22 Dec 09. QinetiQ brings Combined Aerial Target Service for Mirach online. QinetiQ has officially brought into service the Mirach advanced sub-sonic aerial target, as part of the Combined Aerial Target Service
(CATS) contract for the UK’s armed forces, having completed a series of complex verification and operational evaluation trials