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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

11 Apr 12. CAE and Aeronautics announced that the first series of flights of the Miskam unmanned aerial system (UAS) have been conducted successfully over the past several weeks at the UAS Centre of Excellence (Centre d’excellence des drones) located at Alma airport in Quebec, Canada. The demonstration flights represent the first phase of a research and development (R&D) project aimed at demonstrating how unmanned systems can be used for civil applications such as remote inspection of pipelines and hydroelectric installations, surveillance of forest fires, observation of critical natural resources, assessing natural disasters and a range of other applications. CAE and Aeronautics signed a teaming agreement last year to initiate what is now known as Project Miskam. During a series of preparation flights over the past several weeks, Aeronautics operated the Miskam UAS around the Alma airport area. The use of the Miskam UAS in civilian airspace is being conducted under the supervision of Transport Canada, NAV CANADA, and 3 Wing Bagotville. Transport Canada issued Aeronautics and CAE a special flight operating certificate last year to begin demonstration flights at the UAS Centre of Excellence in Alma. The Miskam UAS is a Canadian version of the Aeronautics Dominator XP. This medium-altitude long endurance (MALE) UAS is based on a Diamond DA-42 twin-engine aircraft that has accumulated more than half a million flying hours, making it one of the most reliable and safe UASs worldwide. The Miskam UAS can cover long ranges, flying up to 24 hours, and can carry a significant payload weight while airborne. Combined with a range of sensors suitable for civil, homeland security, and defence market requirements, the Miskam UAS will be used to demonstrate a range of services.

10 Apr 12. Last year, the U.S. Army’s Logistics Innovation Agency (LIA) closed the books on an almost two-year operational cost-benefit analysis on what it would take to operate a fleet of cargo-hauling UAVs in Afghanistan. While the study — which looked at requirements to resupply seven combat outposts — has given the service something to chew on, it appears that the Army isn’t anywhere close to fielding the capability. Army officials said they continue to keep close tabs on the Marine Corps’ highly successful cargo UAV program in Afghanistan, in which two unmanned K-MAX helicopters have ferried more than 750,000 pounds of supplies to forward-deployed Marines in Helmand province, but the Army is still analyzing “the long-term effect and implications of acquiring, operating and maintaining a fleet of Cargo UAS in the U.S. Army.” The information the Marines gather in Afghanistan “will provide LIA with data needed to conduct a lifecycle cost analysis of Cargo UAS,” an LIA spokeswoman wrote in an email. But the Army does have some ideas as to what it wants to do next. The LIA said the completed study concluded that “an increase of payload and having the ability to load cargo inside the aircraft vs. sling loaded on the outside would reduce the number of aircraft needed to carry similar loads and would be able to go faster and farther.” In January, the Army also released a request for information (RfI) to find out what the defense industry thinks it could produce “within 7-10 years from now.” So far, 15 industry teams have responded and have been invited to present their future plans for a cargo UAV capability. (Source: Defense News)

10 Apr 12. The U.S. Navy said April 10 it grounded its fleet of unmanned MQ-8B Fire Scout helicopters after what it termed “two unrelated operational mishaps” with the aircraft. “In light of the recent mishaps, the Navy has temporarily suspended Fire Scout flight operations for 14 air vehicles in inventory while system performance and operational procedures are reviewed,” a statement said. In the first incident March 30 off the coast of Africa, one of the helicopters was ditched at sea upon returning from a maritime surveillance mission

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