28 Nov 11. Northrop Grumman Corporation and the U.S. Navy will be able to increase the pace and productivity of the X-47B flight test program following the successful first flight Nov. 22 of the second air vehicle developed for the Navy’s Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program. The tailless, autonomous aircraft known as Air Vehicle 2 (AV-2) took off under hazy skies from Edwards Air Force Base at 12:43 p.m. PST, climbed rapidly to an altitude of 5,000 feet, flew several racetrack patterns over Rogers Dry Lake, then landed safely at 1:12 p.m. The availability of two test aircraft is particularly important, added Johnson, for helping the program maintain a satisfactory flight test rhythm as it begins transitioning X-47B aircraft to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., (Pax River) for shore-based carrier suitability testing. While one aircraft is being moved to Pax River – expected to occur by the end of 2011 – the other one will continue envelope expansion flight testing at Edwards. The testing at Pax River is scheduled to begin in early 2012.
18 Nov 11. The Pacific Rim might see a significant increase in nations flying U.S.-built unmanned aerial vehicles for maritime ISR missions as a result of efforts by manufacturers to redesign their aircraft to fall under less restrictive export controls and a possible willingness by the Obama administration to allow sales to select nations in that region, reports Eddie Walsh at AOL Defense.
U.S. manufacturers of such systems have found it difficult to sell their UAVs overseas because they are blocked from doing so the by Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) Category I export control restrictions that have discouraged sales of highly advanced technology abroad. To counter this, the manufacturers are redesigning their existing military platforms to fall under the less restrictive MTCR Category II. If the Obama administration is willing to allow sales of unarmed, ISR-only UAVs abroad, General Atomics would likely market its Predator B to Pacific Rim nations such as Australia, Japan and South Korea that require UAVs with multi-mode maritime radar. (Source: Defense Systems)
29 Nov 11. French industrialist Serge Dassault attacked a parliamentary move to buy unmanned military aircraft from the United States, saying it would cost jobs and stifle France’s arms industry. A French Senate committee voted last week to chop funding for Israeli Heron TP drones, which Dassault Aviation SA plans to adapt for use by France’s military in Afghanistan. It opted instead for the cheaper MQ-9 Reaper from General Atomics. If approved, the move would overturn a decision in July by Defence Minister Gerard Longuet to favour the Heron TP from Israel Aerospace Industries on the grounds it would give France a step up in developing key drones technology. The Senate foreign affairs and defence commission found the Israeli platform offered by Dassault would cost an extra 109m euros, or 50 percent more than the U.S. alternative. But Dassault, who sits in the French Senate as a member of President Nicolas
Sarkozy’s ruling conservative UMP party, said the decision to buy American would end up costing France more. (Source: DefenceWeb)
28 Nov 11. Germany’s junior defense minister is calling for France and Germany to cooperate on a common UAV program rather than pursue competing projects, business daily La Tribune reported Nov. 28. Asked in an interview on what programs France and Germany should collaborate, Stéphane Beelemans said: “Drones, for example. The projects being studied in France and Germany reflect a split from the past. “And I say it clearly in France and Germany to our companies. I don’t believe in two projects of this scale at the European level. And I find it hard to believe there is the political will to realize two competing projects. There is enough political will to do a common project,” he said, according to the paper. There was no sense in having two different