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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

16 Jan 06. Covers come off UK spy plane. The Corax, built by BAE Systems, is the UK’s first pilotless stealth aircraft. Images of the UK’s first prototype stealth surveillance aircraft have been unveiled. The unmanned vehicle, which has been built by BAE Systems, is known as the Corax, or as the Raven. The Corax bears some resemblance to a cancelled US military spy plane called DarkStar, analysts have said. Jane’s International Defence Review said the unmanned aircraft “indicated a new direction in combat vehicles for the UK’s armed forces”. Bill Sweetman, the magazine’s aerospace and technology editor, said Corax could represent one member of a family of stealthy aircraft based around a similar central body but using different outer wings optimised for different missions. “If you look at that Corax shape, it’s very reminiscent of something that’s designed to fly fairly high, fairly slow and have quite a long endurance. It looks rather typical for a surveillance aircraft,” he told the BBC News website. “But if you take those long outer wings off and put on shorter swept wings, you have a somewhat faster aircraft that would be more of a penetrating strike platform.” The US and British armed forces believe these pilotless planes will play an increasingly vital role on 21st Century battlefields. The UK has reportedly scrapped plans for a future manned combat aircraft and is working closely with the US on “Project Churchill”. The aircraft is probably a small demonstrator with a 5-6m wingspan. (Source: BBC)

25 Jan 06. General Atomics-Aeronautical Systems Inc., San Diego, Calif., is
being awarded a $41,403,571 fixed price incentive firm contract. This effort
is for the manufacture, test, and delivery of five Predator B MQ-9 Unmanned
Aerial Vehicles and associated equipment to include Initial Spares, Ground
Support Equipment, pack-up kits, and Ku SATCOM antennas. At this time, total
funds have been obligated. Solicitations began November 2004 and negotiations
were complete in December 2005. This work will be complete by March 2008.
The Headquarters Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,
Ohio, is the contracting activity. (FA8620-05-G-3028 Order 0004).

25 Jan 06. U.S. forces supporting the war on terrorism gained two critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets this month when the U.S. Air Force deployed the first two production RQ-4A Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles to theater. The two RQ-4A Global Hawks arrived at the operating base earlier this month. The deployment team began functional test flights of the two vehicles immediately upon arrival. The Global Hawks, their sensors and ground stations were all tested and performed to Air Force requirements before the deployment. They joined a previously deployed Global Hawk test asset, designed and developed as part of the system’s advanced concept technology demonstration phase. That air vehicle has logged more than 3,000 hours in combat during a total of approximately two years in theater.

23 Jan 06. Oshkosh Truck Corporation has unveiled an unmanned version of its Palletized Load System (PLS) vehicle at the U.S. Army Tactical Wheeled Vehicle Component Technology Demonstrations in Yuma, Ariz. Showcasing the immediate application of the technology for the U.S. Army fleet, Oshkosh is demonstrating a real-world mission scenario as the driverless truck transports cargo between destinations seven miles apart in the Arizona desert. The unmanned navigational kit being applied to the PLS was tested at the 2004 and 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge races, and has undergone additional testing in desert environments, similar to those in the Middle East. Oshkosh is partnered with Rockwell Collins and the University of Parma, Italy, on the development this unmanned navigational kit.

20 Jun 06. Spain Poised To Join Neuron UAV Effort. France is waiting for official notice from Spain of its decision to join the Neuron combat drone technolo

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