25 Jul 12. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.’s Gray Eagle® UAS has reached a record 10,000 successful automatic launch and recoveries with the Automatic Takeoff and Landing System (ATLS). The milestone was achieved on June 2 while it performed a routine surveillance mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Gray Eagle’s ATLS also successfully executed the extremely difficult maneuver of landing in a 26 knot crosswind. In less than two years, cumulative flight hours for the Gray Eagle fleet have more than doubled, serving as a testament to the growing demand by the Army war fighter for this highly reliable, durable, and operationally flexible aircraft. Currently flying 2,300 flight hours per month across six deployment and training sites, the Army’s Gray Eagle Block 1 aircraft has accumulated more than 35,000 flight hours since it was first deployed in 2008. Today the fleet has grown to 50 aircraft and maintains a greater than 80% system operational availability rate.
23 Jul 12. Cassidian has successfully carried out a series of test flights with its Barracuda UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) technology demonstrator at Goose Bay military airfield in Canada. This year, the unmanned aerial test bed completed five test flights in June and July 2012 in the context of the research and development programme “Agile UAV in a Network Centric Environment” (Agile UAV-NCE). These involved the Barracuda technology demonstrator flying in combination with another unmanned aerial vehicle, which was simulated by a converted Learjet. The two aircraft flew missions where they each had different role profiles that were autonomously coordinated and synchronised with one another. Carried out by Cassidian’s Barracuda project team, the test flights delivered vital information regarding flight with several networked UAS and the autonomous distribution of roles between unmanned aerial vehicles in complex mission scenarios. The role distribution was predefined in each case. Coordination between the two UAS was largely automated. However, the missions could be adapted by uploading new mission data while the aircraft were in the mission zone. This was accomplished via the new network-centric data link. The flight test engineers transmitted not only individual new waypoints, but also entire mission segments from the ground station to the UAS in flight, which immediately responded to its new instructions. During the 2012 test campaign over the Goose Bay region of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the jet-propelled unmanned demonstrator Barracuda again flew completely autonomously along pre-programmed flight profiles including auto-taxiing processes. The Barracuda and the Learjet simulating the second UAS were monitored from the ground station with respect to flight safety only. The Barracuda demonstrator is designed as a technology test bed with a modular structure and a flexible configuration, enabling a wide variety of systems and flight profiles to be tested and a wide range of mission requirements to be demonstrated. The avionics system was developed as an open and modular structure that allows a large number of sensors and data link solutions to be integrated with the demonstrator. Electro-optical and infrared sensors, laser target designators, an Emitter Locator System (ELS) consisting of detectors for picking up radio-magnetic signals, and advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) systems that operate on the multisensor principle can all be accommodated in the Barracuda’s payload bay.
23 Jul 12. SELEX Galileo, a Finmeccanica company, has successfully performed the maiden flight of its latest member of the market leader Falco Tactical Unmanned Aerial System (TUAS) family, dubbed FALCO EVO. The Falco EVO has a payload capacity of up to 100kg and an extended endurance of up 18 hours. It has flown exceptionally well in its maiden flight and has experienced a smooth touch down after 40 minutes in the sky. The Falco EVO is