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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

02 Dec 05. Northrop Grumman Corporation has successfully conducted a critical design review of its MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for the U.S. Navy. The review moves the program closer to full-scale production and delivery of the vertical takeoff and landing UAV to the Navy. The review brought together the Northrop Grumman Fire Scout team, the Navy and U.S. Army program teams, Navy representatives for Littoral Combat Ship integration and members of the Army’s Future Combat System program. Both services have been closely involved in the design to maximize commonality across the Fire Scout platforms. The technical review process covered every aspect of the UAV to ensure it meets all current and future requirements. Specifically, the review included air-vehicle design, avionics and payload architecture, communications and data links, ship- and land-based launch and recovery and the ability to integrate future payloads onto the aircraft.

05 Dec 05. The Boeing Company’s second canard rotor/wing (CRW) technology demonstrator – the X-50A Dragonfly unmanned air vehicle – has successfully completed a four-minute hover flight at the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in southwest Arizona. The aircraft reached an altitude of about 20 feet above ground.

05 Dec 05. Bell Helicopter, a unit of Textron Inc’s Eagle Eye TR918 Unmanned Aircraft System, or UAS, has received it’s certificate of airworthiness for experimental flight testing from the Federal Aviation Administration. This certification represents the first certificate of airworthiness for experimental flight-testing ever issued by the FAA to a vertical lift UAS.

07 Dec 05. Thales UK, prime contractor on the MoD’s £800m WATCHKEEPER programme, announces that two sensor packages to be carried by the WK450 air vehicle will be the CoMPASS advanced observation system from Elbit Systems subsidiary El-Op and a variant of the Thales UK I-Master radar system. The WK450 unmanned air vehicle (UAV) developed for the WATCHKEEPER programme will carry two sensor packages. This greatly increases the WATCHKEEPER systems all weather, day/night capability and the flexibility to complete tasks without returning to base to change sensor packages. Having the ability to use both radar and electro-optical sensors also greatly improves operational effectiveness.

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