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12 Mar 12. In a mission lasting almost seven hours, an autonomous underwater vehicle made by ATLAS ELEKTRONIK “dived” through a water supply tunnel 24 kilometres long in the vicinity of Stuttgart, successfully investigating the tunnel for damage. With this survey on 6 March 2012, it at last became possible to inspect the “Albstollen” tunnel in the State of Baden-Württemberg for the first time in 40 years. The “SeaCat” underwater vehicle is produced by the Bremen-based company ATLAS ELEKTRONIK, a world leading manufacturer of marine electronics, such as sonars, submarine technology, mine warfare systems and unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). After a thorough disinfection, the craft was lowered into the inflow reservoir at Büttnau and guided into the tunnel by remote control. For the first 300 metres, the SeaCat was controlled through a laptop via a fibre-optic cable. After the vehicle had passed several obstacles in the first section, the cable was cut and the autonomous guidance system was activated to take control for the next 7 hours and 24 kilometres. The speed was about a metre per second, corresponding about 2 knots or 3.6 km/h. The “Albstollen” tunnel, with a length of 24 kilometres and a diameter von 2.25 metres, forms part of the water supply system operated by Bodensee-Wasserversorgung (BWV) with headquarters in Stuttgart. As the largest German long-distance water distribution systems, it provides fresh water from Lake Constance to four million people in 320 communities. As one of two main lines, the Albstollen passes through the Swabian Jura range to supply Stuttgart and the northern part of Baden-Württemberg.

06 Mar 12. U.S. Air Force Secretary Michael Donley told lawmakers March 6 that the service is not sure what it will do with the money it saves by cutting the RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 aircraft and moving 18 of the $215 million unmanned aircraft into storage. Bipartisan members of the U.S. House Appropriations defense subcommittee took turns grilling Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz on the decision to cut the surveillance aircraft, saying that Congress had already authorized the funds for a program that officials originally said was essential to national security. The Air Force had planned to buy 42 Block 30 aircraft. The program, however, was cut in the proposed fiscal 2013 budget because of the high cost to buy and maintain the aircraft; officials said the long-standing U-2 program would be able to complete the ISR mission. The service expects to save $2.5bn in the Future Years Defense Program — through fiscal 2017 — by moving all 18 RQ-4s to storage, but Schwartz and Donley said the Air Force hasn’t decided what to do with the money.
“So, you’re not sure what you’re going to do with that money yet?” subcommittee chairman Rep. C.W. Bill Young asked. (Source: Defense News)

01 Mar 12. Cassidian targets Sagitta at future UAV designs. Cassidian is hoping to use a technology development initiative with academia to inform future unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) design concepts, Aimo Bülte, the company’s vice-president and head of research and technology told reporters at the company’s UK site in Newport. Known as Sagitta, the research programme is being undertaken in conjunction with 14 academic institutes and universities in Germany and 21 PhD students and is intended to align UAV research activities behind a common industrial roadmap. (Source: Jane’s, IDR)

01 Mar 12. AAI, Boeing and a Computer Sciences Corp (CSC)/Saab team were selected by the US Navy to compete for task orders for services provided by unmanned air systems (UAS) worth up to $874m. While the navy did not reveal the selected aircraft, AAI offered the latest version of the Aerosonde, Boeing and subsidiary Insitu offered the RQ-21A Integrator, and the CSC/Saab team proposed Skeldar unmanned helicopter. The services included in the selection include the full spectrum of training, support, installation and operation. The navy pl

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