17 Aug 11. The Northrop Grumman Corporation-built MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff Unmanned Aerial Vehicle was credited with providing critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) support to special operations forces and U.S. Navy anti-piracy actions during the system’s second at-sea deployment. Two Fire Scout air vehicles were deployed aboard the USS Halyburton (FFG 40) at the beginning of January. The system was tasked to provide ISR support for anti-piracy operations conducted by the Navy’s 5th Fleet.
“This deployment was the first opportunity since deploying on the USS McInerney (FFG 8) for the Navy to fully use Fire Scout operationally,” said George Vardoulakis, vice president for tactical unmanned systems for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “The system was involved in three different anti-piracy actions; participated in operations over Libya; and supported a Strait of Hormuz transit with the ship’s SH-60B helicopter – a valuable manned and unmanned aircraft operation that allows ship commanders to extend their awareness at greater distances from the ship.”
Fire Scout also successfully proved a special operations concept for sea-based ISR capabilities and observed a Yemeni fishing boat that had been stranded at sea for 10 days, allowing the Halyburton’s crew to provide assistance.
17 Aug 11. Raytheon Company recently demonstrated its Common Ground Control System (CGCS) technology to representatives from the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence. The demonstration showed an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) control station in a scenario representative of a Scavenger UAV mission, including simultaneous control of multiple dissimilar vehicles, sensor command and control, and connectivity to external systems, among other capabilities. Scavenger is a joint U.K. and French program operating under the Defence and Security Cooperation Treaty, which seeks to develop the next-generation medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). In July, Raytheon received International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) approval from the U.S. State Department to demonstrate its CGCS to U.K. and French governments. The company is currently evaluating partnering opportunities as a common ground segment provider for Scavenger and related programs. Raytheon’s common systems share or reuse software or hardware components, using open, modular and separable architectures and interfaces that give the user control over the level of commonality required. The CGCS architecture provides the flexibility to scale the ground station from headquarters cockpit workstations all the way down to handheld phone-size controllers, depending on the application. The CGCS architecture also allows UAS management functions to be distributed across the total enterprise, which has the potential of significantly reducing the manpower footprint.
18 Aug 11. Last fall, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the U.S. Army and Rockwell Collins demonstrated Damage Tolerance Control (DTC) on the RQ-7B Shadow Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), marking the first time that the technology has been tested on a fielded platform. Video of that historic flight test was viewed for the first time during a Rockwell Collins media briefing at AUVSI Unmanned Systems North America 2011. Flight testing took place over several weeks at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. The testing verified performance of DTC to determine the limits of damage aircraft can handle, provided the Army with an understanding of DTC’s operational benefits to the Shadow UAS mission and generated awareness of overall progress in adaptive controls technology to encourage continued advancement in operational applications. The tests included ejecting 20 inches of the Shadow’s wing during flight. Despite the damage sustained by the Shadow, it remained steady in-flight and landed successfully. These flights also included the first-ever automatic rolling take-off for Shadow, as we