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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

18 Apr 12. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. announced the near-term availability of two extended endurance options for its Predator® B/MQ-9 Reaper fleet. The results of GA-ASI’s recent Endurance Enhancement Study, which was completed on Internal Research and Development (IRAD) funds, propose two different field installable kits that extend endurance without costly depot aircraft modifications:
* Option 1 optimizes the aircraft for Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) missions, adding two fuel pods to its existing 66 ft wings and heavy-weight landing gear, increasing endurance from 27 hours to 37 hours.
* Option 2 optimizes the aircraft for multi-purpose missions, replacing its current 66 ft wings with 88 ft wings, and adding two fuel pods and heavy-weight landing gear, increasing endurance from 27 hours to 42 hours for ISR-only.
Earlier this year, GA-ASI announced the availability of a new trailing arm design for the existing main landing gear on Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper. This “heavy-weight” landing gear increases the aircraft’s landing weight capacity by 30 percent and its gross takeoff weight by approximately 12 percent, from 10,500 lb to 11,700 lb. The new landing gear is available as a field retrofit to all existing Predator B customers, with the capability subject to export restrictions. Predator B is currently operational with the U.S. Air Force and Royal Air Force as the MQ-9 Reaper and the Italian Air Force as MQ-9, with NASA as Ikhana, and with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as Predator B/Guardian. The aircraft is designed to perform multi-mission ISR and “Hunter-Killer missions over land or sea, with more than 120 vehicles delivered since 2001.

11 Apr 12. US Navy develops precision engagement module for USVs. The US Navy (USN) has disclosed plans for a live-firing demonstration of a remotely operated precision engagement module (PEM) developed for unmanned surface vehicle (USV) applications. The module, which combines a Rafael Mk 49 Mod 0 Remote Operated Small Arms Mount (ROSAM) 0.5 calibre machine gun and a dual Spike Long Range (LR) missile pannier, was developed by the Navy Expeditionary Warfare Directorate and the Naval Sea Systems Command’s (NAVSEA’s) Special Warfare Program Office.
(Source: Jane’s, IDR)

10 Apr 12. Phoenix Eye readies for US Army service. Lockheed Martin’s Phoenix Eye system has been declared mission capable by the US Army and will replace the current radar system in all Airborne Reconnaissance Low-Multifunction (ARL-M) aircraft supporting the Eighth US Army. Phoenix Eye is a high-resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR) with a moving target indication capability. (Source: Jane’s, IDR)

16 Apr 12. Representatives from the U. S. Navy’s Program Executive Office, Littoral Combat Ships Unmanned Maritime Systems Program Office and General Dynamics unveiled a quarter-scale model of the Surface Mine Countermeasure Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (SMCM UUV), known as “Knifefish,” at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition being held at the Gaylord National Resort. Knifefish is a heavyweight-class, minehunting, unmanned undersea vehicle designed for deployment by forward operating forces, and will be a part of the Littoral Combat Ship Mine Countermeasures Mission Package. The SMCM UUV system will allow Navy commanders and sailors to detect and identify mines in high-clutter underwater environments without putting sailors in harm’s way, including mines that are suspended in the ocean, resting on the sea floor or buried. Additionally, it will gather environmental data that can provide intelligence support for other mine warfare systems.

19 Apr 12. The CIA is seeking authority to expand its covert drone campaign in Yemen by launching strikes against terrorism suspects even when it does not know the identities of those who will be killed, U.S. officials said. Securing permission to use “signature strikes” would allow the agency to hit targets based solely on inte

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