11 Jun 12. The U.S. Navy is investigating what caused the crash of a Northrop Grumman-built Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Demonstrator (BAMS-D) unmanned aircraft into swamps near Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. on June 11. The aircraft, a Block 10 RQ-4 version equipped with maritime sensors, was being used by the U.S. Navy as part of tests in the run-up to delivery of the initial purpose-built MQ-4C. The first of these is scheduled to be handed over to the Navy at a special ceremony at Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale, Calif., facility on June 14. The 130.9-ft.-wingspan aircraft crashed at approximately 12:11 p.m. EDT near Bloodsworth Island in Dorchester County, Maryland, some 22 mi. east of its base at Patuxent River. Navy officials say there were no injuries on the ground at the impact site, which was in an unpopulated, marshy area. The RQ-4 involved in the accident was one of five acquired from the Air Force Global Hawk program for the BAMS-D effort, which has been developing tactics and doctrine for the employment of high-altitude unmanned patrol aircraft since late 2006. (Source: Aviation Week)
14 Jun 12. Bills would require warrants for domestic drone surveillance. Companion bills in the House and Senate aim to clamp down on the potential use of unmanned aerial vehicles for domestic surveillance by requiring law enforcement agencies to first get a warrant in most cases. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) this week introduced the Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act of 2012, which had already been introduced in the House by Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.). In announcing his support for the bill, Paul compared UAV surveillance to other information-gathering methods used by law enforcement, contending that a warrant should be required under Fourth Amendment protections. His bill would allow exceptions in three scenarios: Border patrol, instances when there is a high risk of terrorist attack, and when law enforcement officials have a “reasonable suspicion” of “imminent danger to life.” UAV technology, developed by the military in Iraq and Afghanistan, is being increasingly deployed by civilian agencies. NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have used drones to monitor hurricanes, measure sea ice and conduct marine mammal surveys. The U.S. Geological Survey has used them to track threatened waterfowl, and the Interior Department is considering using drones to check on dam safety. (Source: Google)
14 Jun 12. Venezuela has developed its own unarmed aerial drone with help from Iran, China and Russia, according to President Hugo Chavez, who said the drones had military and civilian uses. The drone has a range of 60 miles and can reach an altitude of nearly 10,000 feet, according to Gen. Julio Morales, head of the state-run Cavim arms manufacturer that developed the aircraft. They can stay aloft for up to 90 minutes and can transmit real-time video and images, and they are currently being upgraded in order to carry out night flights, he said. The 3-by-4-meter drone was part of a system “exclusively for defense” aimed at surveillance and the monitoring of pipelines, dams and other rural infrastructure, Morales said. Another official said the drone was made from components manufactured in Venezuela and assembled by military engineers trained in Iran.
(Source: Defense News)
14 Jun 12. Northrop Grumman Corporation unveiled the first U.S. Navy MQ-4C Triton Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Unmanned Aircraft System (BAMS UAS) in a ceremony at Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale, Calif., manufacturing facility. The Northrop Grumman BAMS UAS is a versatile maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance system to support a variety of missions while operating independently or in direct collaboration with fleet assets. When operational, BAMS will play a key role in providing commanders with a persistent, reliable picture of surface threats, covering vast areas of open ocean and littoral regions as the un