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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

01 Mar 11. The US Army is developing a new robot, the Cheetah, capable of outrunning the fastest man on Earth and a Terminator-type android, Atlas robot, that will work alongside troops. Boston Dynamics has been awarded the multimillion-dollar contracts by the US Department of Defense (DoD) and hopes to build the first prototype in 20 months. The four-legged Cheetah will have a flexible spine, articulated head, and will be able to sprint, take sharp corners, zigzag and reach speeds of 20mph-30mph. The Atlas robot will have a body, two arms, two legs and no head and will be able to walk over rough terrain, fit through tight gaps and crawl on its hands and knees if needed. The prototype will be a more technologically advanced version of the Petman robot, which is used to test out chemical weapons protection suits for the army, according to the Daily Mail. Boston Dynamics president and lead investigator on the project Marc Raibert said the US DoD was not so focused on the ultimate use of the robots. “They’re most focused on developing the technology and seeing what uses they can be applied to,” he added. (Source: armytechnology.com)
02 Mar 11. Sri Lanka has developed its own UAV, which is being tested by the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF), former Chief of Defence Staff and Air Force Commander Roshan Goonetileke has said. SLAF will demonstrate the UAV after testing a new engine for it.
“In the 1980s we developed an indigenous aircraft, a small one and we tested it and flew it. Now it’s in the Ratmalana Air Force Museum. We soon plan to build a medium-range aircraft by using our own resources as well,” Goonetileke said. He also said the SLAF was planning to upgrade its air-to-air capabilities in the near future, and was identifying areas that need improvement. “We have to purchase new aircraft as well since we have to phase out old aircraft. We have to train pilots properly to meet high standards of future aircraft,” he added. (Source: airforcetechnology.com)

01 Mar 11. AAI Unmanned Aircraft Systems, an operating unit of Textron Systems, a Textron Inc. company, announced today that it has successfully completed an unmanned flight demonstration of a Small Sense and Avoid System (SSAASy) on a Shadow 200 UAS. AAI’s Shadow system has established a reputation as a mature, capable system during more than 600,000 flight hours, the majority of which have taken place in Iraq and Afghanistan.
U.S. Army Ground Maneuver Product Manager Lt. Col. Andrew Hamilton stated, “This was the first successful demonstration of technology that will enable an airborne Sense and Avoid System on Army platforms. Building on the success of the ground-based Sense and Avoid System, this successful demonstration represents the next step toward an integrated air and ground-based sense and avoid solution allowing unmanned flights in the National Airspace System.” (Source: ASD Network)

28 Feb 11. Thales says deliveries of the Watchkeeper UAV will get under way toward year’s end. Handover of the system, intended for intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance, had been expected in February but were delayed by some as-yet-undisclosed “technical difficulties,” Thales executives said Feb. 25 in revealing 2010 final results. Executives say the issues were detected in a report issued by Britain’s National Audit Office and have now been resolved.Thales is building 54 Watchkeeper units, based on Elbit’s Hermes 450 air vehicle, under an £800m ($1.3bn) contract with the U.K. Ministry of Defense. It is also supplying spares and support services under a three-year follow-on award issued last year. (Source: Aviation Week)
BATTLESPACE Comment: Sources suggest that the delay was caused by software problems, the perennial bugbear of the MoD!

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