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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

09 Dec 05. Northrop Grumman Corporation has successfully completed a simulated exercise that demonstrated the simultaneous control of four X-47B UAVs during U.S. Navy aircraft carrier operations. The exercise, conducted Sept. 28 at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in China Lake, Calif., is part of Northrop Grumman’s work on the Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) concepts demonstration program. Using a surrogate aircraft which represented one X-47B, three additional simulated X-47B aircraft were successfully controlled during several flights using advanced mission-management software and air traffic control procedures currently used by Navy aircraft carriers. The air traffic controller provided standard commands to a single mission operator, who in turn ensured all four aircraft safely operated within the simulated carrier’s airspace. The demonstration illustrated the controller’s ability to guide all four aircraft through the approach, wave-off and traffic pattern procedures, while accomplishing proper spacing and air traffic de-confliction. The mission operator was able to monitor the entire process to ensure proper command response and advise the controller on aircraft response or performance limitations.

07 Dec 05. The Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute (KORDI) has developed a deep-sea autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) that can operate in the depths of 6,000 meters. Maritime Affairs-Fisheries Minister Oh Keon-don said on Dec. 7 that KORDI started the AUV project with a total expenditure of 12 billion won in 2001 to build up scientific infrastructure for deep-sea research. Construction of the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) will be completed in March 2006 and inaugural test of its performance will be conducted in April in depths of 2,000 meters around Ulleung Island, 87 km east of the Dokdo islets in the East Sea. The vehicle will be launched in the Pacific in September 2006 to survey South Korea’s mining zone between the Clarion and Clipperton islands that was allotted by the International Seabed Authority.

05 Dec 05. New Mexico State University’s Physical Science Laboratory has successfully completed the first round of test flights for a collision-avoidance system that promises to be a key to safe operation of unmanned aircraft in civilian airspace. “Everything went great,” Phil Copeland, technical director of PSL’s Aerospace and Autonomous Systems Laboratory, said of the test flights that were conducted in November at the Stallion Range on the northern side of White Sands Missile Range. “We are scheduled to go to the next level of testing in January.” Automated sense-and-avoid systems are the key technical hurdle that must be overcome for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to fly safely in the National Airspace System controlled by the Federal Aviation Administration.

16 Dec 05. Northrop Grumman Systems Corp, San Diego, Calif. is being awarded an $8,345,263 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (N00019-00-C-0277) for shipboard testing of Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, including shipboard installation and flight testing on the High Speed Vessel – 2. Work will be performed in San Diego, Calif., and is expected to be completed in June 2006. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems
Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

05 Dec 05. Canada’s Air Force is crafting a multimillion-dollar plan to purchase medium- or high-altitude UAVs to be fielded by the end of the decade. Work is under way on the Joint Unmanned Surveillance Target Acquisition System (JUSTAS), which calls for the acquisition of the UAVs by 2010. Funding for that project will be about C$500m ($420m), said Canadian Air Force Lt. Col. Gord Smith, the military’s section head for UAV requirements.

13 Dec 05. Aurora Flight Sciences announced that during recent acoustic testing its

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