09 Sep 10. US commanders considered shooting down an unmanned navy helicopter that flew out of control towards the US capital last month before communications were restored, a top US officer said Thursday.
Admiral Sandy Winnefeld, who oversees the country’s air defenses, said the August 2 incident presented senior officers with an unprecedented dilemma, as a robotic Firescout helicopter strayed off course after losing ground communications.
“We were watching this very closely,” said Winnefeld, head of US Northern
Command and NORAD, the joint US-Canadian air defense command. “It’s headed right for the heart of the national capital region,” he told defense reporters. “Do you let it run out of gas and hopefully crash in a farmer’s field or do you actually take action to shoot it down?” “You certainly don’t want to shoot it down over a populated area if you can avoid it.”
The North American Aerospace Defense Command was on the verge of scrambling F-16 fighter jets to intercept the helicopter when operators regained control of the chopper after 20 minutes. The MQ-8B Fire Scout had taken off from Webster Field at the Patuxent River testing ground in Maryland and broached Washington’s restricted air space, but the US Navy said the helicopter never got closer than 40 miles (64 kilometers) from the capital. The admiral said the military was “not close” to shooting down the helicopter but commanders had reviewed possible options. (Source: ASD Network)
14 Sep 10. In a further test series comprising four flights, EADS Defence & Security (DS) has again successfully tested the technology demonstrator ‘Barracuda’ at Goose Bay Air Force Base in Canada. Advanced technologies and new procedures have successfully passed new tests under realistic conditions. As part of the flight tests, DS particularly checked the Sense & Avoid capabilities, Auto Taxi Systems, a Structure Integrated Antenna and the Image Exploitation Chain (Automatic Target Detection Systems). During this 2010 test campaign in the Goose Bay area of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the jet-propelled unmanned flight system (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle – UAV) flew completely autonomously along pre-programmed flight profiles including auto-taxying processes. Flying some 2 hours and 42 minutes in four take-off and landing cycles this summer, the Barracuda now reaches an overall total flight hours of 4 hours and 15 minutes (sum of two test campaigns in 2009 and 2010). It was monitored from the Ground Control Station with respect to flight safety only, while the Payload Ground Station was used to steer the on-board Zeiss EO/IR sensor with regards to different modes and view angles from the ground as well as to receive the sensor data.
10 Sep 10. The Russian military is training 50 servicemen in the use of Israeli-built UAVs, Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov has
“We have bought 12 UAV systems from Israel, and 50 servicemen are currently being trained to operate them,” he said.
According to various estimates, the Russian military needs up to 100 UAVs and at least ten guidance and control systems to ensure effective battlefield reconnaissance, according to Pakpasban.com. Russia is in negotiations with Israel to establish an estimated $300m joint venture to produce UAVs. Russia signed a $100m contract with Israel in 2009 for 36 UAVs to be delivered by the end of 2010, according to a think tank on the international arms trade. (Source: airforcetechnology.com)