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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

15 Apr 10. Thales today announces the maiden UK flight of the
Watchkeeper unmanned air system (UAS). Watchkeeper flew for the first time in the UK on 14 April, taking off from dedicated facilities at ParcAberporth in West Wales for a 20-minute
flight. The ParcAberporth facilities, managed by QinetiQ through the West Wales Unmanned Air vehicle (UAV) Centre, are the premier test facilities for UAVs in the UK. The success of this first flight, which can be attributed to the combined efforts of the integrated Thales UK and MoD, is the first milestone in a long-term programme to demonstrate that the Watchkeeper system meets the robust safety and airworthiness criteria required to fly UAVs initially on ranges and segregated airspace in the
UK.

15 Apr 10. The U.S. Army will soon sign an agreement with U.S. Special Operations Command to borrow one of its A160 Hummingbird UAVs for deployment to Afghanistan, according to Army officials. The Army has no formal requirement for a vertical-takeoff-and-landing UAV, but the service’s deputy chief of staff for intelligence (G-2) is interested in developing a quick reaction capability, said Col. Gregory Gonzalez, the Army’s project manager for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). (Source: Defense News)

09 Apr 10. The Australian Government is considering deploying unmanned aircraft for weather detection, crops monitoring and border patrols over the next decade. The Australian communications authority is investigating several ways to allocate spectrum space for communication that will avoid interference with defence force communications.
The defence force is the only Australian user that relies on spectrum bands within 230MHz – 400MHz, 2.9GHz -3.4GHz and 4.4GHz – 5GHz.
According to the announcement by the Australian Communications and Media
Authority, the spectrum demand for UAVs is expected to increase significantly over the next decade as UAV use extends towards different civilian applications. (Source: airforcetechnology.com)

12 Apr 10. Northrop Grumman Corporation launched the latest enhanced version of its industry-leading Wheelbarrow unmanned ground vehicle for the remote handling and surveillance of hazardous threats. The Wheelbarrow Mk9 vehicle, designed, developed and manufactured by Northrop Grumman in the UK, includes significant advances in technology and performance and a range of new features that will improve its capabilities for both civil security and defence applications.
“We are continually developing and expanding our products and their capabilities to meet the evolving needs of our military and civil security customers in detecting and disposing of improvised explosive devices and handling hazardous threats,” said Kevin Rooney, managing director Unmanned Ground Vehicles for Northrop Grumman’s Information Systems sector in Europe. “This latest design of our well proven Wheelbarrow vehicle combines greater speed, mobility, exceptional payload and reach capabilities with the latest control, communications and camera specifications to offer unsurpassed performance.”
Key features of the Wheelbarrow Mk9 include: digital communications for improved quality and greater security; enhanced user-friendly command console with touch-screen facility and joystick control; wireless hand controller for local remote control and; greater functionality including preset positions. The vehicle also has a dedicated separate data channel for additional sensor integration. Its performance characteristics rank it among the most capable vehicles available in its class: it can climb a 45-degree stairway; has a modular telescopic arm with 7-degrees of freedom and a maximum reach of more than 6m; a maximum speed of 5km/hour; and a lift capacity of 150kg.

12 Apr 10. Northrop Grumman Corporation’s navigation products exceeded data collection and characterization test objectives and provided excellent robust performance during recent flight tests for the U.S. Air Force Research Labora

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