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28 Mar 12. Australia said March 28 it may allow the United States to use its territory to operate long-range spy drones as part of an increased U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific that has rankled China. Washington and Canberra could also reportedly station U.S. aircraft carriers and nuclear-powered attack submarines in the western Australian city of Perth as part of a major expansion of military ties. Under the expansion, the first U.S. Marines out of a 2,500-strong deployment to Darwin in northern Australia — unveiled last November by U.S. President Barack Obama — are to arrive next month. The Marines plan has irked Beijing but reassured some Asian countries that see it as a statement that Washington intends to stand up for its allies and interests in the region amid concerns about China’s increasing assertiveness. Australian media carried reports citing a Washington Post story that the United States was considering using the Cocos Islands, atolls in the Indian Ocean off northwest Australia, to launch unmanned surveillance aircraft. (Source: Defense News)

26 Mar 12. 3-D printing is very cool and typically uses lasers to harden some sort of resin material one layer at a time until a finished three-dimensional product is produced. When you combine a 3-D printed device with printed electronics it’s even more interesting. Two companies called Stratasys and Optomec Inc have announced a very interesting device called Smart Wing created for UAV model. The wing is the first project to successfully merge 3-D printing and printed electronics, creating the world’s first fully printed hybrid structure. It’s very interesting that the wing has all the electronics it needs printed directly on the surface rather than resorting to heavier and more complex traditional wiring. The company says that 3-D printing electronics combined with printed electronics techniques have the potential to change product development in a number of industries including medical devices, consumer electronics, automotive, and aerospace development. Optomec uses Aerosol Jet system to print what it calls a conformal sensor, antenna, and required circuitry directly on the wing of the UAV model. That UAV wing was printed using Stratasys’ Fused Deposition Modeling process. This is a very interesting process will certainly speed up prototyping and manufacturing. (Source: UNMANNED)

26 Mar 12. NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center flew its Ikhana MQ-9 unmanned aircraft with an Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, or ADS-B, device, for the first time on March 15. It was the first time an unmanned aircraft as large as Ikhana – with a 66-foot wingspan, a takeoff weight of more than 10,000 pounds, and a cruising altitude of 40,000 feet — has flown while equipped with ADS-B. ADS-B is an aircraft tracking technology that all planes operating in certain U.S. airspace must adopt by January 2020 to comply with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations. It also was the first flight of hardware for the NASA Aeronautics research project known as UAS in the NAS, which is short for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in the National Airspace System. The equipment performed well during a flight lasting nearly three hours in restricted air space over Dryden’s Western Aeronautical Test Range, which is part of Edwards Air Force Base and the China Lake Naval Air Warfare Center. Being equipped with ADS-B enables NASA’s Ikhana to provide much more detailed position, velocity, and altitude information about itself to air traffic controllers, airborne pilots of other ADS-B equipped aircraft flying in its vicinity, and to its pilots on the ground. Currently, only air traffic controllers can see all the aircraft in any given section of the sky. The ADS-B checkout flight aboard Ikhana kicked off a series in which researchers will collect ADS-B data while performing representative air traffic control-directed maneuvers. As part of a collaborative effort, FAA’s William J. Hughes

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