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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

25 Jun 12. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. announced the recent deployment of the first full company of Gray Eagle® UAS, F/227. Following training and internal Army evaluation exercises, F/227 is now deployed with 12 aircraft. Gray Eagle aircraft logged over 1,700 flight hours during a total of 238 flights over the initial seven-month training and evaluation period. In the meantime, a second Gray Eagle company is currently staging its equipment in conjunction with readiness level operator and maintainer training. Prior to the establishment of F/227, two groups of four aircraft each were deployed to Afghanistan via two Quick Reaction Capability (QRC) initiatives. These QRCs are designed to support the Warfighter, in addition to providing valuable lessons learned for the concurrently developing Program of Record. The QRCs also bring the added advantage of getting valuable technology into the hands of the Soldiers more quickly. Gray Eagle supported the Apache Block III Initial Operational Test & Evaluation (IOT&E) in April to demonstrate manned-unmanned teaming in support of commanders and Soldiers. The Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) review was conducted on June 1 and authorized the program to proceed with a third Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) purchase of 29 aircraft and supporting equipment, followed by IOT&E in August 2012. To date, GA-ASI has delivered 61 Gray Eagle aircraft to the Army, with another 44 aircraft currently on order. The innovative and technologically sophisticated Gray Eagle aircraft performs long-endurance surveillance, communications relay, and weapons delivery missions with double the weapons capacity of the combat-proven Predator®. Featuring a Heavy Fuel Engine (HFE) for increased supportability in the field, the aircraft is also equipped with triple redundant avionics, redundant flight controls/surfaces, and Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR) and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) payloads.

25 Jun 12. Aerospace industry officials in Italy and Germany have cautiously welcomed French moves to let them in on the French-U.K. alliance to build two new UAVs, boosting the chances that Europe will develop a common, in-house platform. But, German and Italian officials argue, the next step is to move talks to a multilateral, roundtable basis. The response from Italy and Germany was the latest move in a European chess game played out against a background of shifting political and industrial alliances, as well as shrinking budgets, that will help define the continent’s defense aviation industry for decades as it shifts to unmanned systems. France and the U.K. got the game underway in 2010, when they signed a broad treaty on defense cooperation to include work on a medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAV and an unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV). The agreement provoked the wrath of Germany and Italy, who want a slice of any program that promises to become Europe’s common UAV. The two countries promptly signed their own cooperation deal. (Source: Defense News)

19 Jun 12. Japan boosts REMUS AUV inventory. The Japanese Ministry of Defence (MoD) has ordered a REMUS 600 autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) from Hydroid for use in mine countermeasure (MCM) operations. It follows the acquisition of four of the smaller REMUS 100 AUVs, the US-based manufacturer said in a 12 June announcement. Described by Hydroid as the most versatile member of its growing family of AUVs, the REMUS 600 is designed for operations requiring extended endurance, increased payload capability and greater operating depth, making it well-suited for the detection of underwater mines. (Source: Jane’s, JDW)

15 Jun 12. UVision looks to Wasp for quick reaction recce. Israel’s UVision is looking to stake a claim in the burgeoning single-mission unmanned aerial vehicle market (UAV) with its Wasp system. Speaking to IHS Jane’s at the Eurosatory 2012 exhibition in Paris, Amit Morag, the company’s vice-president of business developmen

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