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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

23 Dec 13. An effort to combine UAVs and open source software has been launched by the Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security and private industry. The Open Source Unmanned Remote and Autonomous Vehicle Systems program will be based at Camp Shelby, Miss., which has nearly 100 miles of restricted air space for UAVs to fly. Participants also include the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and the Defense Acquisition University. In addition local Mississippi community colleges, the Open Source Software Institute and other non-government entities are taking part. “The goal is to identify and document specific technical, economic and administrative benefits provided by open technology solutions and to share this information with government unmanned vehicle programs, commercial suppliers and open source development communities,” said John Weathersby, executive director of the Open Source Software Institute, in an announcement to local newspapers. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)

19 Dec 13. U.S. Defence authorisation bill scales back UCLASS, protects A-10 and Global Hawk. The bill scales back the USN’s plans for UCLASS. The legislation protects the A-10 and Global Hawk fleets from cuts. The US government’s Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) dramatically scales back the US Navy’s (USN’s) plans to field the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Surveillance and Strike System (UCLASS) aircraft, among other things. According to the legislation, the navy would not be able to acquire more than six air vehicles prior to a ‘Milestone B’ decision to enter the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase. The USN previously has said that it plans to acquire up to 24 air vehicles prior to EMD. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

20 Dec 13. The U.S. Coast Guard will get 20 surplus Wasp III small unmanned aerial systems from the Marine Corps, courtesy of a Pentagon technology transfer program. Under the Defense Department’s Domestic Preparedness Support Initiative program and the Navy’s Technology Transfer program, surplus military systems can be turned over to the Department of Homeland Security and its agencies, including the Coast Guard. With the Marine Corps transitioning to the Wasp IV system, it no longer needs the hand-launched Wasp III, which originally cost $150,000 per system. “This technology transfer is a fantastic opportunity for the Coast Guard Research and Development Center to develop in-house UAS capabilities,” said Andrew Niccolai, director of UAS Technology Projects at the Coast Guard Research and Development Center in Groton, Conn., in a Naval Air Systems Command news release. “This is really a win-win situation,” said Marine Corps Maj. Gary Shill, deputy integrated product team lead for PMA-263 Group 1, which is NAVAIR’s organization for Navy and Marine small UAVs. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)

19 Dec 13. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has commissioned the country’s latest Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) which will be deployed as an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaisance (ISR) platform in the fight against terrorism, maritime piracy and crude oil theft. The UAV was unveiled in a ceremony on Tuesday attended by senior government officials and defence officials led by Air Force Chief of Staff Air Marshall Alex Badeh at the Kaduna Air Force base. The aircraft, which has been named ‘Gulma’ meaning ‘gossip’ in the local Hausa language, was produced by the Nigerian Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) with the help of aerospace engineers from Cranfield University in Britain. Since 2007, the British institution has partnered the AFTI as part of the Nigerian government’s bid to develop an in-house capacity for advanced aviation design, research and development. Powered by a 17 hp engine, the Gulma is built on a composite aluminium alloy structure, operates via radio control on a Micro Pilot FCS avionics system and weighs 40 kilogrammes. It has a maximum cruise range of 923 km and a top flight speed of 86 knots.

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