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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

14 Feb 13. Technical Woes Scuttle Army Spy-Blimp Project
The U.S. Army has shelved development of a football-field-size surveillance blimp amid concerns about the cost and reliability of the project, military officials said Thursday. Seen as a high-tech eye in the sky that would provide U.S. troops in Afghanistan with life-saving intelligence, the airship, known as the Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle, ran into resistance from high-level Army officials as well as development problems that undermined the $517m program, according to congressional and military sources. “Due to technical and performance challenges, and the limitations imposed by constrained resources, the Army has determined to discontinue the LEMV development effort,” said Army spokesman Dov Schwartz. (Source: glstrade.com/WSJ)

13 Feb 13. RQ-21A STUAS Completes 1st Ship-Based Flight. The Navy’s RQ-21A Small Tactical Unmanned Air System (STUAS) completed its first flight at sea Feb. 10 from the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19). The system completed three months of land-based trial flights at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in China Lake, Calif., before launching from a LPD-class ship. (Source: ASD Network/Naval Air Systems Command)

12 Feb 13. In January, a United Nations official began an investigation into the use of drones in targeted killing, the first formal international probe of U.S., British and Israeli counterterrorism programs that have killed hundreds of suspected terrorists — along with an unknown number of innocent civilians — in secret strikes. In the U.S., the development will surely put new pressure on agencies and the contractors involved in President Obama’s signature counterterrorism strategy. Leading the inquiry is Ben Emmerson, the U.N.’s special rapporteur for human rights and counterterrorism, an international lawyer. (His counterpart, the special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, wrote a commentary in C4ISR Journal’s January-February issue.) Emmerson said his investigation will examine 25 drone strikes in detail in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories. One key focus, he said, will be to look allegations of significant civilian collateral damage. That’s important in human rights law because generally it’s a violation to launch attack where collateral damage to civilians is excessive or disproportionate. Another focus, he said, will be to try to determine who the actual targets of the drone killings are, and to unravel the secret processes used in selecting them. (Source: Defense News)

10 Feb 13. The U.S. Navy soon expects to issue a request for proposals for new unmanned vehicles that will hunt for and trigger mines from the surface and underwater. The service held an industry day Jan. 24 to give companies an idea of what its military requirements might be for the project, known as the Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS), which would travel aboard littoral combat ships (LCS). The UISS has two main components: an unmanned surface vehicle, and an acoustic and magnetic minesweeping system towed behind it, said Capt. Duane Ashton, the program manager for unmanned maritime vehicles at Naval Sea Systems Command. When the vessel is in mine-infested waters, it will deploy the orange minesweeping system stored on the back of the unmanned boat and tow it under the water. The system emits acoustic and magnetic signals that trick a mine into thinking a large ship is passing by, causing the mine to explode, Ashton said. While sweeping, the surface vessel will be far enough away so that it will not be damaged by a detonating mine, Ashton said. The UISS will be part of the mine countermeasures mission module for the LCS. The mine module is one of three — the others are for surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare. (Source: Defense News)

12 Feb 13. The US Army is planning to give Gray Eagle drones to 15 of its companies, a move that will give divisi

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