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04 Aug 11. USMC readies GUSS for tactical exercises. The US Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL) is continuing with the development of its Ground Unmanned Support Surrogate (GUSS) project and other unmanned vehicle studies. Speaking to Jane’s , Brent Azzarelli, chief robotics engineer of NAVSEA’s (Naval Sea Systems Command’s) Dahlgren division, said that the enhancements to GUSS had been focused on three areas: perception and autonomy, hardware to support perception and situational awareness, and improvements to the cargo bed area. (Source: Jane’s, IDR)

02 Aug 11. Raytheon reveals blue force tracker for UAVs, dismounts. Raytheon has developed a miniaturised interrogation antenna enabling its Cooperative Target (CTID) technology to be used by soldiers and small unmanned aircraft to help prevent fratricide. The miniaturised technology builds upon an existing Raytheon antenna design with additional research and development performed in co-operation with the US Army, according to Billy Mitchell, the business development manager for combat identification (CID) solutions at the company. (Source: Jane’s, IDR)

15 Aug 11. Insitu’s ScanEagle unmanned aircraft system (UAS) assisted U.S. and NATO Forces in their mission to protect civilians and reduce the flow of arms to Libya. During a 72-hour counter-terrorism surge supporting Operation Unified Protector (OUP), the ScanEagle UAS was operated organically aboard USS Mahan (DDG 72) to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) support. In strong winds, ScanEagle performed cooperatively with a host of U.S. and NATO participating forces. About a month earlier, a highly experienced team from Insitu operating aboard USS Mahan analyzed how ScanEagle was being used and how it might be operated more effectively. Based on the analysis, the team notified the command that if the opportunity arose, it was certain the ScanEagle UAS could successfully perform a variety of mission support tasks. While the USS Mahan team waited to hear back from command about additional tasking orders, it continued to operate ScanEagle, performing routine ISR missions. When the call came to support OUP, the USS Mahan team and ScanEagle were ready. Once on station, the team made an immediate impact, locating and classifying high value contacts of interest.

10 Aug 11. The Global Hawk will finally replace the long-serving U-2 spy plane in 2015, a U.S. Air Force official told reporters Aug. 10. “No U-2s in the Air Force in fiscal year ’15,” said Lt. Col. Rick Thomas, the Air Force’s Global Hawk functional manager, at the National Press Club. Thomas said he is confident that the RQ-4, as the Global Hawk is designated, will be able to match the capabilities currently provided by the U-2 as required by legislation. “That’s my job – is to look at that legislation and say if we can do it or not,” he said. One of the capabilities which the Global Hawk will have to integrate before it can replace the U-2 is to carry that aircraft’s Optical Bar Camera, which is an extremely high resolution wet film camera. The Air Force is studying ways to mount the massive camera onto the Global Hawk airframe, but substantial modifications will be required to the sensor and the airframe, Thomas said. “We’re looking at a cooperative effort with industry to look at a universal mount,” he said. Thomas said he didn’t know if the camera’s wet film would be retained – a digital model might be a possibility. Legislation before Congress might add another monkey wrench into the Air Force’s plan to replace the U-2, however. The proposed legislation would require the Defense Department to certify sustainment costs for the Global Hawk are less than the U-2’s before the Air Force is allowed to retire the 1950s-era spy plane. According to the Air Force’s Total Ownership Cost database, the U-2 cost $31,000 per flight hour while the RQ-4 sits at $35, 000. (Source: Defense News)

15 Aug 11. The commander of Air Combat Comm

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