16 Apr 10. UK armed forces will launch the new Watchkeeper unmanned air system (UAS) in April 2011, replacing the current fleet of H-450 aircraft. Watchkeeper will provide enhanced capability to UK forces through electro-optic/infra red (EO/IR) imaging and synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target indicator (SAR/GMTI) capabilities. The 6.1m-long air vehicle has a maximum payload capacity of 150kg, which include day/night sensors. The UAS is fitted with global positioning systems, dual computers and dual datalinks to carry out autonomous missions.
Flight and systems trials for the Watchkeeper UAS will shortly begin at Parc Aberporth in west Wales, UK.
15 Apr 10. The MQ-8B Fire Scout returned from its first operational deployment April 15. The VTUAV was embarked aboard USS McInerney (FFG 8) during their recent six-month deployment to the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) Area of Responsibility. Fire Scout is an autonomously controlled helicopter used by McInerney to scan waters for drug smugglers. Senior Chief Aviation Electronics Technician (AW/SW) Stephen Diets, the fleet liaison for Fire Scout and one of the first enlisted air vehicle operators (AVO), said Fire Scout has the advantage of being able to hover unlike traditional Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). McInerney is the first ship to support Fire Scout-one of the Navy’s newest unmanned flight technologies. “It’s one of the Navy’s newest systems, we brought it to bear on the mission, and it has challenged us to think in new ways to accomplish our goals,” said Cmdr. Paul Young, McInerney’s commanding officer. McInerney is the first ship to make a drug bust using a VTUAV with a drug interdiction April 3. Fire Scout was on a post-maintenance check flight when the operators spotted suspected narcotics smugglers.
“We got the first Fire Scout drug bust on the deployment, it was very exciting, and it’s mostly thanks to all the hard work by the air detachment’s maintainers,” said Diets.
The ship’s crew also shared in the excitement of the bust.
“It’s exciting to make a bust, when you stop the drugs and put people in jail it really defines our whole mission, it makes it all worth being out here, and this bust was groundbreaking,” said Command Master Chief John T. Lawry, McInerney’s command master chief.
The VTUAV, while on deployment, was kept up and running thanks to the maintenance crew of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 42 Det. 7, who served as McInerney’s air support.
18 Apr 10. 5G International recently completed their rigorous Middle East testing programme of an improved version of their 7m Interceptor Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV). Following a successful development and testing of the MKII USV navigation system featuring three
navigation control modes is now available offering:
1) The MkII navigation system is very accurate and is unaffected by gusting winds and large seas. It offers three levels of
b) semi-autonomous and
c) manual control
2) dual redundancy radio link
3) multi-fuel Steyr engine with Hamilton waterjet drive.
4) Air conditioned solid state on-board command & control system with dual waveband encrypted radio control.
a) Line of Sight with optional Over the Horizon control system using RF or satcomms.
b) Programmable multi-optional courses of action in event of loss of signal / total communications failure.
18 Apr 10. 5G International recently completed their rigorous Middle East testing programme of an improved navigation system on their 7m Interceptor Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV). Following a successful development and testing of the MKII USV navigation system, threenavigation control modes are now available offering:
autonomous -fully automatically following a preplanned mission
semi-autonomous -automatically following a preplanned mission with human intervention as required. manual -full remote operation
In either of the autonomous modes, updates to the mission may be made