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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE 27/01/05

05 Jan 05. iRobot’s SUGV funding increased to $37m. iRobot Corp today announced that its funding for the US Army’s Future Combat Systems (FCS) program has increased to $37.3m. iRobot is charged with developing a next-generation Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV) for the groundbreaking FCS programme. The funding will allow iRobot to increase its SUGV team to 32 people within its Government & Industrial Robotics division and accelerate the development cycle. The increase will cover computer modeling and simulation as well as field studies.

24 Jan 05. Honeywell has begun flight-testing the 13-inch-wide, 14-pound Micro Air Vehicle, or MAV, at its tethered-flight area here. Those tests will continue through March, at which point Honeywell will deliver the first 10 of the rugged vehicles to the Army for initial experimentation. The MAV is designed to carry cameras, chemical sensors or other equipment and fly ahead of soldiers.
The MAV is being built under a $40 million contract with the Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. It is one of two unmanned aerial vehicle projects the firm is undertaking in the Duke City. The other, under a newer, $3.99m DARPA contract, is to build a larger, heavier vehicle based on the same design. Both are so-called ducted fan designs that is, the engine and propeller reside inside a composite duct, or tube, which serves as the flight surface. Both aircraft being developed locally are envisioned as part of Future Combat Systems. The control system for the MAV was culled from Honeywell’s local work on high-fidelity moving maps and displays for airplane cockpits. It consists of a stylus, or pen-based, computer. One control pad would typically be connected to two MAVs in the field, Fulton said. Honeywell will deliver 50 more MAV prototypes to the Army after the diesel engine is perfected, Fulton said. The Army will test the tiny aircraft at Georgia’s Fort Benning. The MAV could see combat use as early as the end of this year, Goosen said.
Copyright 2005 Albuquerque Journal
25 Jan 05. Galileo Avionica’s Simulation and UAV Business unit is developing a new air-launched high-performances mini-unmanned air vehicle, named Locusta (Locust). Initially intended to be launched from the company’s Mirach 100/5 target, it will act as a secondary target to be used against new generation surface-to-air air defence missile systems, in training and tests conditions were a direct hit is required. The 2 meters long and around 20 kg heavy jet-powered mini-UAV presents a cylindrical airframe made of composite materials and aerodynamics control surfaces, including a deployable wing, tails empennages and front canard surfaces. Thanks to a miniaturised navigation and asset control package including and auto-pilot, altitude and speed sensors plus navigation system, as soon as Locusta is released by its mother platform, it will deploy wings and follow a pre-programmed flight plan, which can be monitored by a ground station through a communication link, also used to give mission termination commands to the mini-UAV. Two Locusta system can be carried and release by a Mirach 100/5 target drone. Payloads planned to be carried by the mini-drone include radar, optical and infrared signature enhancing systems. Initial early-prototype captive-flights were performed last autumn, and follow-on flying testing is expected for this year.

25 Jan 05. Russia completing tests of unmanned spy plane. The Defence Ministry is expected to return a preliminary conclusion on the feasibility of fielding the new air reconnaissance system in the first quarter of 2005,” a source in the Russian defence industry told Interfax-Military News Agency. He noted that the preliminary conclusion of the customer was necessary to launch the new system into mass production and according to the source, the main feature of the upgraded Pchela-1K UAV consists in the new avionics, comprising both infrared and TV equipment

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