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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

15 Nov 12. As the U.S. government prepares for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System by 2015, the U.S. Air Force and Raytheon Company have conducted concept evaluation demonstrations that show existing air traffic control equipment could be modified to safely track the presence of nearby unmanned aircraft. Ground Based Sense and Avoid (GBSAA) — based on the Airport Surveillance Radar Model-11 (ASR-11) and the repurposed Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) air traffic control system — reduces the need for costly new infrastructure. The testing near Edwards Air Force Base at Gray Butte Airfield in California involved a moving “dynamic protection zone” — a collision avoidance alerting capability — around the UAS. The “dynamic protection zone” provides a series of alerts to the UAS pilot as airborne objects (i.e., balloons or ultra-lights) approach to avoid near mid-air collisions. GBSAA also builds on wind farm mitigation technology used to mitigate interference from wind turbines near airports. Using Raytheon’s ASR-11, the STARS automation system, and its surveillance data processor, repurposed for GBSAA, pilots and controllers were given alerts of intruding airborne objects near surrogate unmanned aerial systems and were able to keep them safely separated. ASR-11, the STARS system and its surveillance data processor are proven, NAS-certified systems for use in safely separating aircraft today. Repurposing these assets provides a cost-effective approach that enables safe UAS flight in the NAS.

15 Nov 12. Northrop Grumman Corporation and the U.S. Navy have taken a first critical step toward demonstrating that the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator can be maneuvered safely and wirelessly on the crowded deck of an aircraft carrier. In early November, the team successfully completed its first shore-based trials of a new wireless, handheld device called a Control Display Unit (CDU). Developed by Northrop Grumman, the device will allow deck operators to maneuver the X-47B by remote control on the carrier deck. The team demonstrated the CDU’s ability to control the X-47B’s engine thrust; to roll the aircraft forward, brake and stop; to use its nose wheel steering to execute tight, precision turns; and to maneuver the aircraft efficiently into a catapult or out of the landing area following a mock carrier landing. Northrop Grumman is the Navy’s prime contractor for the UCAS Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program.

13 Nov 12. BAE Systems has successfully converted its 300th F-4 Phantom fighter jet into an unmanned flying drone for the U.S. Air Force. The achievement is a significant milestone in the 16-year-long QF-4 program, which provides full-scale, remotely controlled aerial targets that the Air Force uses for weapons testing and aircraft training. The QF-4 work is conducted at BAE Systems’ 123,000-square-foot hangar in Mojave,
California. Approximately 100 employees provide a range of services to transform decommissioned F-4s into QF-4s, a complex process that typically takes about six months. Depending on the condition of the F-4s, the services may include systems engineering and integration; electrical, mechanical, and software engineering; and various types of structural alterations.

13 Nov 12. Cosworth has used its advanced propulsion system modelling and simulation techniques to evaluate the benefits of hybrid system technologies and assess the challenges of fitting such systems to UAVs. The study DSTL looked at gasoline and heavy fuel engines fitted to generic MALE platforms, and considered the utility of adding combinations of energy recovery, energy storage and electric drive technologies. As platforms continue to become increasingly multi-role, the need for more on-board electrical power increases. The use of hybrid propulsion and power generation technologies will add significant new payload opportunities to platforms, but come at a cost of addin

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