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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

30 Nov 05. Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Air Combat Systems, San Diego, Calif., is being awarded a $10,513,230 ceiling-priced modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (N00019-05-C-0057) to exercise an option for operations and maintenance support for the Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration (GHMD), including operation and sustainment, logistics support and sustaining engineering throughout the demonstration. Work will be performed in San Diego, Calif. (79 percent) and Patuxent River, Md. (21 percent), and is expected to be completed in November 2006. Contract funds in the amount of $1,300,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

28 Nov 05. The handover to the Bundeswehr today of the first KZO drone system by Rheinmetall Defence Electronics in Bremen gives the German Army one of the world’s most effective unmanned aerial reconnaissance systems. The ability to reconnoitre hostile territory from a safe standoff will make an important contribution to protecting the lives of German troops.. The KZO, which stands for Kleinfluggerät Zielortung, or “small aircraft for target localisation”, is a state-of-the-art unmanned air vehicle, specially designed to support the German Army during hazardous out-of-area missions. It underscores the role of Rheinmetall Defence Electronics – a subsidiary of the Düsseldorf-based Rheinmetall Group – as a global leader in the domain of drone technology.

30 Nov 05. Raytheon Company has been awarded a new contract to produce ground segments for Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk program, which will support the U.S. Air Force RQ-4A/B Global Hawk unmanned aerial system. Financial terms were not disclosed. Raytheon will build additional Global Hawk ground segments consisting of the launch and recovery element, the mission control element (MCE), and
associated ground communication equipment. The system provides high resolution imagery data to tactical commanders in near-real time. The sensor data obtained from each Global Hawk is transmitted to the MCE via wideband RF line- of-sight or satellite data link. Data is then disseminated to existing command and control systems or directly to properly equipped tactical field users or exploitation centers.

29 Nov 05. InRob Ltd. announced that it has completed the development of a remote control system for Caterpillar D9 bulldozers. This system has been under development for more than one year and the company just received military approval to announce the results of the field trials. Several departments and divisions within the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) put InRob’s remotely controlled Caterpillar D9 to the most stringent of testing.

Nov 05. UAVs are starting to replace spy satellites in the major espionage agencies. The CIA has long had its own fleet of Predator UAVs, and now the NGA (National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which analyses stuff, makes maps, and the like) and NRO (National Reconnaissance Office, which builds and operates spy satellites) want more UAVs as well. The sudden NRO enthusiasm for UAVs is driven partly by money problems. Congress is increasingly reluctant to provide billions for new satellites. For less than a tenth of what a space satellite costs, the NRO realized they could buy high flying UAVs (like Global Hawk), and equip them with satellite grade sensors. In this way, the NRO can get the coverage they need without the expense of a spy satellite. There’s a more practical reason as well, UAVs can circle a location (being “persistent”), while satellites only come by each orbit. NGA can also get stuff from a UAV that they cannot get from the more expensive satellites. This does not mean there will be fewer satellites, for you still need them to check out countries you cannot fly UAVs over. But in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, UAVs are cheaper, and more useful, than satellites.

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