23 Aug 10. Upgraded Desert Hawks – hand-launched, remote-controlled surveillance aircraft which can record video footage day and night, sending it directly to troops on the ground – arrived in Afghanistan this weekend. The latest version of the Desert Hawk has been bought as part of a GBP3m Urgent Operational Requirement to provide a further boost to the surveillance capability on the front line. The Desert Hawk’s cameras have been upgraded, giving a huge improvement to image clarity and stability. It also has a new wing design which improves its performance in the hot and high conditions of Afghanistan. The aircraft is just 91cm long, with a wingspan of 137cm, but it can fly for 90 minutes with a range of nine miles (14km). Desert Hawk is operated in Afghanistan by 47 Regiment Royal Artillery. It is light and easily transportable by patrols, weighing about 3.7kg. It can be dispatched in ten minutes and is virtually undetectable once it is in the air. (Source: ASD Network)
25 Aug 10. LaserMotive, an independent R&D company specializing in laser power beaming and winner of the 2009 NASA-sponsored Power Beaming Challenge, has announced that it will be showcasing a demonstration model of a laser-powered remote controlled helicopter at the AUVSI Unmanned Systems North America 2010 Conference, August 24 – 27 in Denver, Colo., booth #227. The demonstration model, which uses a tethered remote-controlled helicopter, is eye-safe and has been designed to fit inside LaserMotive’s booth at the show. In lab tests conducted by LaserMotive, the laser-powered helicopter has flown for nearly two hours, making it the longest duration laser-powered helicopter flight on record. The helicopter will be flown all day long during the four-day
Conference, the company said.
“The ability to fly an unmanned helicopter for this length of time using laser power beaming is an important technological advance for unmanned aerial vehicles,” said Tom Nugent, President of LaserMotive. “Not only does this provide a way for UAVs to be powered in flight without the need for fuel, but it potentially can extend their abilities and enable new missions.” (Source: AUVSI)
24 Aug 10. In recent flight tests on the Shadow Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (TUAS), Rockwell Collins demonstrated a new technology that is able to perform real-time data monitoring and analysis while in flight to alert UAS operators of impending maintenance needs. The new capability, also known as the real-time Condition-Based Monitoring (CBM) system, is designed to improve UAS reliability, while reducing costs and extending the UAS life cycle.
“The CBM system performed successfully in detecting and diagnosing a wide range of potential maintenance issues on the Shadow,” said Dave Vos, senior director of UAS and Rockwell Collins Control Technologies. “This capability is critical in helping operators to not only maintain the Shadow and other UASs, but to help them predict future equipment failures and prevent them from happening.”
The CBM application, which is implemented in the Rockwell Collins Athena 211e flight control system, utilizes data collected from existing sensors on the Shadow, including the propulsion system. In addition to conducting ongoing data collection, analysis and reporting to the UAS operators, the CBM system also sends emergency alerts and does offline data logging to support further analysis to schedule needed periodic maintenance.
23 Aug 10. The U.S. Navy is slipping first flight of the Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator at least six months to December, says Capt. Jeff Penfield, Navy UCAS program manager. Navy officials say they still expect to meet the goal set by the chief of naval operations for UCAS to operate from an aircraft carrier in Fiscal 2013, but they need more time to work on the air vehicle/ship interface. The unexpected complexity of the interface caused the delay. Resolving this issue now is essential, because this piece of UCAS wi