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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

16 Nov 11. Space Florida and Lockheed Martin have signed an agreement to advance the testing and production of a new autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) known as Marlin(TM) in support of aerospace economic development in the state of Florida. Lockheed Martin will outfit the Marlin systems with sophisticated sensors and imaging equipment to conduct commercial underwater inspections. The systems are well suited for use in the oil and gas industry as a safe and cost-effective way to inspect underwater infrastructure and pipelines, especially after severe weather such as hurricanes. Space Florida is investing in Lockheed Martin’s technology to allow for further refinement and marketing of the AUV prior to commercial production. The Marlins will be built at Lockheed Martin’s Palm Beach facility, and will be tested and demonstrated in open waters off Florida’s Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

13 Nov 11. Swiss company Unmanned Systems showed a model of its Orca rotary-wing unmanned air vehicle for the first time at Dubai. The Orca employs a revolutionary tip-jet propulsion method that not only improves performance in many key areas, but also overcomes many of the operational problems encountered with conventional propulsion methods. Orca’s system employs a turbine engine rated at 215 hp that rotates with the rotor blade. The jet blows air at 700-deg C through flexible ducts to the hollow rotor blades, then blowing through angled tip nozzles to provide thrust. Reactive movement is eliminated so there is no requirement for a tail rotor, and there is no need for clutch, gearbox or transmission, significantly reducing weight. This propulsion systems has numerous benefits, not least of which are low running costs and high availability. Despite its small size and 772-pound mtow, the Orca is designed to lift a remarkable 265-pound payload, and it can operate at up to an1,500-foot ceiling. Typical endurance on 33 gallons of fuel is 2.5 hours. Unmanned Systems is currently testing the propulsion system on a tower, leading to a first flight for Orca scheduled for April next year. The company hopes to have the vehicle ready for market in May. There has already been significant interest from military and other agencies. Initially the Orca is being developed as an ISR platform, carrying a FLIR Ultra Force 350 EO/IR payload as standard, but with other options available. (Source: UNMANNED)

14 Nov 11. The U.S. Navy has sent three unmanned surface vessels to its Riverine Group One to evaluate how well the vessels perform the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities for which they were designed, Navy officials said. The Modular Unmanned Surface Craft Littoral vessel is an X-class unmanned surface vessel intended for furnishing real-time monitoring of suspicious vessels, personnel and activity along waterways, shorelines and structures such as bridges and piers. The unmanned craft can be deployed from either Riverine Assault Craft or patrol boats. The Navy’s Program Executive Office for Littoral Combat Ships delivered the units to Riverine Group One. (Source: Defense Systems)

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