22 May 13. German Defense Ministry was aware of Euro Hawk doubts. The Euro Hawk is still making waves in Germany, even after the defense ministry pulled the plug on the surveillance drone project last week. The problems were obvious long before the debacle. The German representatives involved in the Euro Hawk project still sounded confident back in December of 2012.
“The project has reached a level of maturity that allows the Euro Hawk
conditional entry into European airspace,” the German delegation said at the International Aerospace Conference in Montreal at the time.
Three months later, the German defense ministry’s undersecretary of state didn’t sound as convinced when questioned in Germany’s parliament. “There are tests currently being run that will definitively answer whether a procurement of Euro Hawks is justified against the backdrop of [air-space] approval problems,” wrote Thomas Kossendey in response to a parliamentary inquiry in the German Bundestag. By May 2013, that same defense ministry had announced the end of the Euro Hawk drone project. The costs up to that point: approximately 600m euros ($775m). The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) had reportedly announced it would not allow flights over populated areas because the drone lacks a certified detect-and-avoid system. The problem did not come as a surprise. Developers have been working on the Euro Hawk since the start of the millenium. In 2004, EADS, the company working on the drone, warned that a collision protection system would become necessary, in particular for take off and landing. A power point presentation that can still be accessed on the Internet says that while the drones fly at an altitude of 20,000 meters – twice as high as passenger planes – dangerous situations could arise during take-off and landing, when the drone flies through the passenger planes’ busy airspace. Oncoming planes, the presentation concludes, “do not stand a chance to prevent a collision.” (Source: Early Bird)
22 May 13. Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical UAS enters production phase. The Department of the Navy announced May 15 that the RQ-21A Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (STUAS) received Milestone C approval authorizing the start of low rate initial production. With MS C approval, the RQ-21A program, managed by the Navy and Marine Corps STUAS program office (PMA-263) here at NAS Patuxent River, enters the production and deployment phase of the acquisition timeline, according to the PMA-263 Program Manager Col. Jim Rector. The Navy awarded Insitu, Inc., an Engineering Manufacturing Development (EMD) contract for STUAS in July 2010. Since then, the government/industry team has executed land-based developmental tests (DT), operational tests at China Lake,
Calif. in December 2012 and conducted the first sea-based DT from USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) in February. Concurrently, Marines are flying an Early Operational Capability (EOC) system at Twenty Nine Palms, Calif. for pre-deployment preparation. Lessons learned from EOC will be applied to operational missions in theater. The aircraft is based on Insitu’s Scan Eagle UAS, which has flown more than 245,000 hours in support of Navy and Marine Corps forward deployed forces via a services contract. The RQ-21A system has a 25 pound payload capacity, ground control system, catapult launcher and unique recovery system, known as Skyhook,
allowing the aircraft to recover without a runway. The RQ-21A includes Day/Night Full Motion Video (FMV) cameras, infrared marker and laser range finder, and Automatic Identification System (AIS) receivers. The ability to rapidly integrate payloads allows warfighters to quickly insert the most advanced and relevant payload for their land/maritime missions and counter-warfare actions. (Source: ASD Network)
15 May 13. The U.S. Navy is putting underwater drones through
wartime-style drills as part of international mine-clearing exercises in the Persian Gulf following similar mane