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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

16 Dec 10. The U.S. Army is working to meet its troops’ huge demand for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), but the expected budget cuts will force the service to prioritize what they really need, officials said. Among the organizing principles, said Lt. Col. James Cutting, Aviation UAS director in the Army’s G-3 office: The Army does not want unmanned systems for unmanned’s sake. A proposed new system must offer better capability or save manpower, Cutting said. Budget constraints may lead the services to try to protect their own systems, or to seek synergies and savings together, said Col. Grant Webb, deputy commander of the Joint UAS Center of Excellence. It remains to be seen which direction they’ll take, he said, speaking at an unmanned aircraft conference in Arlington, Va. Either way, the Army has to separate its needs from its wants, said Col. Robert Sova, capability manager for UAS at Army Training and Doctrine Command. The service did so earlier this year when it decided to hold off on upgrading its Shadow RQ-7B aircraft to a new RQ-7C model, Sova said. Instead, smaller improvements will be made to the current platform and the Army will revisit its decision at some point. But the Marine Corps is moving ahead to arm its Shadows, filling an urgent operational needs statement from Afghanistan. The work will take 12 to 18 months, Marine Corps Lt. Col. Brad Beach said. The Marine Corps are looking into using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to resupply troops in the field, which would reduce the number of trucks sent on convoys through Afghanistan. On Dec. 2, the Marines awarded contracts to assess the ability of Boeing’s A160 Hummingbird and Lockheed Martin’s K-MAX to perform the mission. The Army is watching the Marine Corps’ effort “with keen interest,” Sova said. Other requests coming in Afghanistan concern full-motion video and signals intelligence, said Brig. Gen. Kevin Mangum, special assistant to the commanding general of Army Special Operations.
Overall, Mangum said, the demand for UAVs is “insatiable.” The Army fielded its first Gray Eagle system, formerly known as Sky Warrior, as part of a quick reaction capability for Iraq in 2009. As commanders learn about its capability, the demand for it climbs, said Mangum, a commander in Iraq with the Gray Eagle’s first deployment. “It’s like crack, and everyone wants more,” he said. Ground forces rely on UAVs to do everything from hunting human targets to protecting forces to watching warehouses holding electoral ballots, Mangum said. (Source: Defense News)

14 Dec 10. Kadet plans range of unmanned aerial vehicles. India’s Kadet Defence Systems is leveraging its experience producing aerial target vehicles (ATVs) in the development of two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which, according to the company, will be complete in 2011. Kadet Chief Executive Officer Avdesh Khaitan told Jane’s that by mid-2011 the company will be poised to offer its range of UAVs for military and homeland security employment, in a market dominated by medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) and high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) UAVs supplied by Israeli manufacturers. (Source: Jane’s, IDR)

16 Dec 10. USAF Global Hawks may reinforce naval BAMS-D capabilities. The US Navy (USN) may augment its fleet of two Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Demonstrator (BAMS-D) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with US Air Force (USAF) Block 10 Global Hawks, according to navy and Northrop Grumman officials. The USAF’s Block 10 Global Hawks are expected to become available by the end of 2011, when the service’s new Block 30 Global Hawks are scheduled to reach initial operating capability (IOC). (Source: Jane’s, IDR)

16 Dec 10. Hummingbird to fly with novel combined payload. Boeing’s Frontier Systems subsidiary will undertake planning, payload integration and air vehicle modifications to support an operational demonstration of a combined imaging and signals intelligence (SIGINT) payload aboard the A160T Hummingb

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