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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

07 Jan 13. On June 11, a massive Navy surveillance drone plummeted into swampland on an island in the Chesapeake Bay on Maryland’s eastern shore. The unmanned aircraft had a 45-foot fuselage — as long as a luxury motor coach — and a wingspan of more than 100 feet. The closest populated area to the crash site is several miles away and no one was injured, though the disaster attracted news helicopters from local TV stations that videotaped the burning wreckage. The Navy investigation into the catastrophic failure was completed this summer, according to records obtained by C4ISR Journal through a Freedom of Information Act request. The probe showed that the unmanned plane was filled with almost 6 tons of fuel shortly before takeoff and had only been briefly airborne. After intermittent trouble, it lost control at about 18,000 feet and pilots at computer terminals at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., could no longer direct the aircraft as it plunged toward the ground. Though the aircraft — a Broad Area Maritime Surveillance-Demonstrator, or BAMS-D — was the property of the Navy, it was operated by civilian contractors working for Northrop Grumman, the UAV’s manufacturer. The BAMS-D is a maritime version of the Air Force’s RQ-4A Global Hawk. (Source: C4ISR magazine)

17 Jan 13. Northrop Grumman Corporation and the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) of the United Arab Emirates have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate and explore ways to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in areas that build local capacity across various sectors in the UAE.
Signed during the 2012 Global Entrepreneurship Summit held recently in Dubai, UAE, the agreement continues a successful partnership between Northrop Grumman and HCT that began in 2010. The agreement further expands Northrop Grumman’s focus on domestic and international educational programs aimed at deepening student appreciation of and interest in STEM programs and careers. Since 2010, students at HCT have participated in “Innovation Challenge” – a competition during which teams of HCT students, mentored by Northrop Grumman engineers, gain practical experience by designing, building and testing an unmanned aerial vehicle. The activity culminates in a flying competition. The 2013 Innovation Challenge unmanned aircraft competition, which is open to the public as spectators, will be held April 23-24 at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. The competition’s elements include an oral presentation on the team’s design and build of its UAV as well as a flying competition that meets specific criteria. The winning student team will travel to the 2013 Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International convention held in August in Washington, D.C., and present its design to an international audience.

14 Jan 13. Sandia Labs develops new UAV to identify origins of nuclear bomb. Sandia National Laboratories has developed and demonstrated a new unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Harvester, designed to rapidly collect airborne radioactive particles for analysing the origins of nuclear bombs for the US Air Force. Integrated with radiation sensors and specialised debris-samplers, the Harvester UAV uses two particulate sampling pods to detect radioactive particles and a third pod to provide directional guidance for a real event by following the gamma radiation trail. As part of a formal Department of Defense (DoD) Joint Capability Technology Demonstration, the airborne particulate-collection system has already undergone testing at the Grand Forks Air Force Base in Grand Forks, North Dakota, US. During the demonstration, the UAV successfully collected and identified naturally occurring radioisotopes of lead and bismuth produced from the radioactive decay of atmospheric radon using its pods, while providing a uniform measure for debris distribution. The air force is expected to include the aircraft, which is equipped with three pods, additional har

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