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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

06 Oct 10. The Japanese Defence Ministry is considering acquiring three Global Hawk reconnaissance aircraft from the US to enhance its air surveillance capabilities. Japan’s move is seen as a measure to deal with China’s increasing militarisation and North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. The ministry plans to buy the unmanned high-altitude aircraft as part of its new mid-term defence programme for 2011-2015.
The Global Hawk can fly at an altitude of 18,000m and is equipped with sophisticated cameras and highly sensitive communications-receiving abilities. The aircraft can gather data and simultaneously send it to command facilities on the ground. The Global Hawk costs 4.15bn yen ($50m) including equipment, so the sum for three aircraft will in excess of 12bn yen ($144m), according to the Japan Times. (Source: airforcetechnology.com)

04 Oct 10. AAI Corporation has been selected to provide the ground control station for the US Army’s long-endurance multi-intelligence vehicle (LEMV) programme. Under the $8.9m contract, AAI will provide a ground control station variant for the LEMV, a long-duration hybrid airship system. The AAI ground control station will be Nato standardisation agreement (STANAG) 4586 compliant and have specific features for interoperability with allied assets. The launch-and-recovery ground control station will utilise multiple work stations to provide the users with complete flight control from take-off to landing. Additional work stations will also be located at a fixed remote site for aircraft command and control, processing, exploitation and dissemination of information. Northrop, the prime contractor of the programme, said the system is scheduled for delivery within an 18-month period for operational evaluation. (Source: armytechnology.com)

05 Oct 10. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) unveiled its new revolutionary tilt-rotor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for tactical missions, the Panther, at the Latrun Conference in Israel, October 5-7,
2010. The Panther will be exhibited for the first time internationally at the Association of the United States Army’s (AUSA) 2010 Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington D.C., October 25-27. This new line of UAVs includes also the “Mini Panther”. Based on extensive research and development and IAI’s operational knowledge of the challenges of an advanced ground battlefield, the Panther combines the flight capabilities of an airplane with helicopter-like hovering, a tilt-rotor propeller, and a fixed wing vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) system, which enable a runway-free takeoff and landing on an unprepared area. The unique concept has been patented by IAI. An innovative automatic flight control system controls the transitions between the hovering takeoff phase to forward flight and vice versa before landing. The Panther takes off and lands automatically by a simple click of the operator console, thus eliminating the need for an external pilot.

27 Sep 10. A British designed UAV which showcases a wide range of new technologies has successfully demonstrated ‘flapless flight’ in the UK. The UAV, called DEMON, made the historic flight from an airfield at Walney Island in Cumbria on Friday 17 September. Developed by Cranfield University, BAE Systems, and nine other UK universities, DEMON is designed to be able to forgo the use of conventional mechanical elevators and ailerons which usually control the movement of an aircraft in favour of novel aerodynamic control devices using blown jets of air. Such an approach offers several advantages over ‘moving flap’ technology which has been used since the early days of aviation, in that it means fewer moving parts, less maintenance, and a more stealthy profile for the aircraft. DEMON’s trial flights were the first ‘flapless flights’ ever to be authorised by the UK Civil Aviation Authority. DEMON successfully demonstrated flapless flight when, for a planned portion of a test-flight, the conventional

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