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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

14 Apr 13. The most secretive piece of airspace in Australia – the RAAF-run Woomera flight test range in South Australia – will make history later this year when the world’s first unmanned supersonic stealth combat aircraft makes its maiden test flight above the desert. Extreme secrecy surrounds the joint British-French project and the drone called Taranis, named after the Celtic god of thunder and built by a British/French consortium led by aerospace giant BAE Systems. Resembling an insect and using the delta-shaped “flying wing” technology favoured by modern-day stealth aircraft such as America’s B-2 stealth bomber, Taranis is designed to fly above the speed of sound over long distances undetected by enemy radars to attack targets with an array of precision missiles and bombs. (Source: Open Source Information Report/news.com.au)

14 Apr 13. Germany is in talks with Israel to buy weaponized drones for its military that are seen as more technologically advanced than U.S. ones, the weekly Der Spiegel reported. The news magazine’s Monday edition said the German defense ministry had already held two meetings with Israeli military officials, in November 2012 and February 2013, on the proposed purchase. The chief of Germany’s air force, Lt. Gen. Karl Muellner, was said to have recently gone to Israel to attend a presentation of Israel’s Heron TP drone, Der Spiegel said. Berlin was believed to favor the Heron over the U.S.-made Predator drones because it was seen as more cutting-edge, the magazine said. (Source: Defense News)

19 Apr 13. Northrop Grumman Corporation has launched CUTLASS, its latest generation unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), expanding its range of industry-leading capabilities in unmanned systems for the remote handling and surveillance of hazardous threats. CUTLASS has been designed, developed and manufactured by Northrop Grumman in the U.K., and includes significant advances in technology and performance and a range of features that provides state-of-the-art capabilities for national security and resilience applications. CUTLASS offers the latest technology in a modular design, enabling the user to deal safely with the full range of hazardous threats from a distance, including the detection and disposal of explosive ordnance. Its highly versatile design means that it is capable of accommodating a wide range of payloads, sensors and tools. It carries all of the tools and sensors it needs to perform the full range of operations required for explosive ordnance disposal and other applications, avoiding the need to deploy two standard UGVs. CUTLASS saves up to 50 percent on the through-life costs when compared to owning and operating two standard UGVs. The manipulator arm is equipped with a three-fingered, state-of-the-art gripper and has nine degrees of freedom for greater movement and agility inside limited spaces. With a specialised sensing system it provides a high level of control and dexterity to minimize damage to property and preserve forensic evidence. Using CUTLASS, a hazardous situation can be restored to normal up to four times more quickly than with any other UGV. The combination of the speed of the wheeled platform, which can reach speeds of up to 12 kph, and the ability of CUTLASS to carry multiple tools and sensors negates the need to return to the incident control point, thus saving considerable time. The robot is able to creep along at deliberately slow speeds for delicate operations and may accelerate to high speeds to enable rapid travel. The six-wheeled design offers mobility on all types of hard and soft terrain and in all weather conditions. Northrop Grumman’s unmanned ground vehicle business has been established in Coventry, U.K., for more than 20 years. Today, the company designs, develops and manufactures in the U.K. some of the most capable and reliable unmanned ground vehicles available, from the Wheelbarrow bomb disposal robot to the latest vehicle, CUTLASS. Northrop Grumman has more t

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