07 Jan 13. Watchkeeper Unmanned Air Vehicle: Still Delayed. The Defence Equipment Minister confirmed (7 Jan 13) that the MoD is procuring 15 Watchkeeper ground control stations and 54 air vehicles. “The release-to-service process, including airworthiness certification, is taking longer than originally expected”.
Comment: The Minister had said earlier (19 Nov 12) that: “The date when Watchkeeper, which is in the final stages of flight trials, will enter service with the Army has yet to be determined.”. The MoD remains committed to deploying Watchkeeper to Afghanistan “at the earliest opportunity”. Deliveries of Watchkeeper to Afghanistan were originally due in 2011, with Operational deployment in late 2011/early 2012. Delays to the programme have been blamed on (unspecified) software difficulties. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 13/03, 14 Jan 13)
10 Jan 13. EADS negotiating Harfang UAV supply contract extension with France. EADS is negotiating an extension of the Harfang UAV system delivery contract with the French MoD, a senior company official has revealed. Sales head Luc Boureau of Cassidian, an EADS defence and security unit, was quoted by Reuters confirming the company is seeking extension of UAV deliveries to the French Air Force (ALAT) until 2017. The company is also holding talks on modification of the air force’s General Atomics-built MQ-9 Reaper UAV as a makeshift solution, prior to actual deliveries of next-generation drones in the next decade, Boureau added. Meanwhile, the French MoD refused to comment on the issue. Powered by a single four-stroke liquid air-cooled Rotax 914 F turbocharged engine, the Harfang is a medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV designed to carry out strategic reconnaissance and tracking missions in the battlefield. Derived from Israel Aerospace Industries-built Eagle 1/Heron TP platform, the Harfang can be controlled either manually from the GCS or autonomously, and is integrated with a remote operations video enhanced receiver (ROVER) transmission system to broadcast video imagery in real-time to ground troops. The drone entered operational service in June 2008 as a supplement to French RQ-5 Hunter UAV. A total of four systems, each comprising three aerial vehicles and two ground control stations, are currently operational with the air force. The UAVs were also operated by the ALAT for conducting reconnaissance and tracking operations in Afghanistan. (Source: airforcetechnology.com)
11 Jan 13. Northrop Grumman Corporation and EADS Deutschland GmbH, operating through Cassidian, together achieved a major milestone with the first full system test flight of the EURO HAWK® unmanned aircraft system (UAS) equipped with the signals intelligence (SIGINT) advanced sensors for detection of radar and communication emitters. Cassidian is the defence and security division of EADS (EDF, EPA, MSX: EAD). The EURO HAWK® took off at 10:36 a.m. Central European time from Manching Air Base and climbed to a ceiling of 54,000 feet within military controlled airspace, far above and at a safe distance from civilian air traffic. After more than eight hours aloft, the aircraft landed safely back at Manching Air Base at 4:38 p.m. Central European time. The EURO HAWK® system previously completed extensive ground testing at Manching Air Base, receiving final approval from the German Airworthiness Authority to flight test the functionalities of the integrated SIGINT payload. Based on the RQ-4B Global Hawk HALE UAS, the EURO HAWK® system includes a ground station consisting of a mission control and launch and recovery elements provided by Northrop Grumman. It is equipped with a new SIGINT mission system developed by Cassidian, providing standoff capability to detect electronic and communications emitters. The SIGINT ground station, which receives and analyzes the data from EURO HAWK® as part of an integrated system solution, is also supplied by Cassidian.
08 Jan 13. Innocon announced the expansion of its