29 Oct 13. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GAASI) is waiting on the South Korean government to formally request information on its MQ-9 Predator B (Reaper) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) so that it can be offered to fulfil the air force’s medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAV requirement, a company official told IHS Jane’s on 30 October. Speaking at the Seoul International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition (ADEX) in South Korea, William Thomas Jr, Senior Manager Washington Operations, said that GAASI would like to submit its Predator B platform to the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF), but as a Category 1 system it requires an official government request for the company to do so.
“We have asked [the Korean government] to do this, but [the Defence Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA)] has not yet done so,” he said. “We’re not sure of the reasons why, but we think it might be tied up with domestic production considerations.”
As with most big-ticket South Korean procurements, offset requirements for the MALE UAV procurement programme will likely include a level of domestic production for the country’s indigenous defence aerospace sector. With South Korean UAV technology currently lagging some 10 years behind that of the United States, Thomas said that in-country manufacture of the Predator B is not an option and that this might have something to do with the government’s reticence in coming forward with a request for information. Thomas added though that the lack of any domestic production could be offset by having South Korean industry develop sensors and payloads to be fitted to the Predator B instead. While GAASI is waiting on DAPA to request information on the Predator B, the company has been in dialogue with the Korean government with regard to its Predator XP MALE UAV. As a Category 2 system, the Predator XP does not require the same level of governmental clearance as the Predator B, affording the company more scope to market it abroad. With the RoKAF looking for four to five systems (each system comprising three to four aircraft, and a ground control station), Thomas said that GAASI has priced “a full 24/7-365 capability, as well as a stripped-down and cheaper capability.” Despite providing briefings and pricing options on the Predator XP, the lack of progress in terms of requesting information on the Predator B could have a serious knock-on effect on the RoKAF’s plans to field its MALE UAV capability in the timeframe required, Thomas noted, saying: “We expected a [request for proposals] to be issued in late summer [Q3], but this didn’t happen. We have been told that [the RoKAF] is looking to field [its MALE UAV system] in the 2016/2017 timeframe, but it will be tight to be able to do that now,” he said. Besides GAASI, other candidates for the RoKAF MALE UAV requirement include Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Elbit Systems with the Heron and Hermes 450 respectively. (Source: Jane’s)
29 Oct 13. India plans to spend more than US $2bn in the next five years to boost its UAV fleet, including mini UAVs, and sharpen its border surveillance, intelligence and communications capabilities. More than a dozen domestic private-sector players are eyeing the mini-UAV market, while the Defence Research and Development Organisation concentrates on developing high-altitude, long-endurance; vertical takeoff; medium-altitude, long-endurance; and combat UAVs. The Army this month floated a tender to acquire 49 UAVs to be used for real-time intelligence and surveillance, to detect human or vehicular movement, target recognition and identification, and electronic intelligence and communication intelligence. The tender has been sent to private Indian companies Idea Forge, Dynamatrics, Hi-tech Robotics, Ufcon, Omnipresent Technologies, Datapattern, Tata Advance Systems and state-owned Bharat Electronics.
The mini UAVs will be used for counterinsurgency operations in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, bordering