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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

05 Feb 12. Britain and France are expected to sign a deal to develop a high-tech unmanned aircraft based on the topsecret Mantis project developed by BAE Systems in Lancashire. The plane, capable of striking from high altitudes after travelling huge distances, will be designed by BAE and Dassault Aviation. The French company’s Rafale fighter was recently chosen by New Delhi ahead of the Typhoon made by BAE Systems and Cassidian in a contract worth $10bn (£6.3bn) to supply 126 jets for the Indian air force. The long-awaited £1bn Mantis deal is seen as being highly significant. Not only will it be the first fruits of the Franco-British Treaty on Defence Co-operation signed early last year, it also virtually confirms that manned fighter aircraft such as the Typhoon will be superseded within a few decades. The Coalition and the Ministry of Defence now believe that unmanned fighter and bomber aircraft are the way ahead. Stefan Zoller, chief executive of Cassidian said last week: ‘Unmanned aerial vehicles are the future of military aviation. What is going to follow the Eurofighter? It will definitely be unmanned aerial systems and they are already being introduced today. Everyone within the industry is preparing for these new systems.’ Zoller said Cassidian had invested nearly £500m in unmanned aviation projects. He admitted that in future only co-operation among European countries and some advanced former Third World countries such as India could raise the huge investments that are necessary. (Source: AUVSI)

10 Feb 12. DARPA has developed the LS3 four-legged semi-autonomous robot, dubbed AlphaDog. The US Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) has conducted the first outdoor testing of its newly developed prototype semi-autonomous four-legged robot, the Legged Squad Support System (LS3), designed to carry heavy loads for dismounted troops in the field. During the exercise the robot, dubbed AlphaDog, demonstrated its ability to follow the soldier using its sensors to distinguish between trees, rocks,
terrain obstacles and humans. Based on DARPA’s previously designed four-legged robot called BigDog, the LS3 is smarter and stronger than its predecessor, which was able to carry 100lbs and also served as an auxiliary power source that soldiers can use to recharge batteries for handheld devices during patrols. The robot will now undergo an 18 month platform-refinement test cycle, beginning in July 2012 to ensure its ability to support dismounted squads of warfighters before it is deployed in a field exercise with the Army and US Marines Corps. The LS3 will continue to be refined during this period and will ultimately be made capable of carrying 400lbs of squad gear a distance of 20 miles within 24 hours without refuelling. The robot’s vision sensors will be tested and refined to ensure that it can properly detect obstacles and autonomously correct its course as required and hearing sensors will be added to help LS3 follow verbal commands from soldiers. DARPA programme manager Army lieutenant colonel, Joe Hitt, said: “LS3 seeks to have the responsiveness of a trained animal and the carrying capacity of a mule.” The highly mobile LS3 was under joint development with Boston Dynamics since
2010, and is being built to reduce the load on soldiers which has become a major point of emphasis for defence research and development due to negative impact it creates on battle readiness. Hitt added: “If successful, this could provide real value to a squad while addressing the military’s concern for unburdening troops.” (Source: armytechnology.com)

10 Feb 12. A representative from the European defense industry came out strongly in favor of the European Union developing a regulatory framework for unmanned aerial systems (UASs) at a workshop on research and development into UASs here Feb. 9. Dave Kershaw, the Future Capability Business Development Director at BAE Systems and who is serving on a UAS working group at the Aerospace and D

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