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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

03 Jan 14. Northrop Grumman Corporation and the U.S. Navy have completed nine initial flight tests of the Triton unmanned aircraft system (UAS), marking the half-way point in a process called envelope expansion. During envelope expansion, the test team validates the aircraft’s ability to operate at a range of altitudes, speeds and weights. The flights are taking place at the company’s manufacturing facility in Palmdale, California. The Triton test team accomplished endurance flights up to 9.4-hours at altitudes up to 50,000 feet. The aircraft also performed doublets, a maneuver that tests the aircraft’s ability to recover from small perturbations in its flight path caused by turbulence. (Source: UAS VISION)

30 Dec 13. FAA names sites for testing UAV integration in US domestic airspace. The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on 30 December the selection of six new sites to develop and test the integration of unmanned aircraft into domestic airspace. The sites include the University of Alaska; the state of Nevada; New York’s Griffiss International Airport; the North Dakota Department of Commerce; Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi; and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

02 Jan 14. Russian Helicopters, the holding that produces rotorcraft in Russia, has shown a demonstrator future rotary-wing unmanned aircraft system to the country’s Airborne Forces (VDV), the company announced last week.“The holding is developing future rotor-wing systems suitable for the airborne forces, infantry and other units,” Russian Helicopters’ General Director Alexander Mikheyev said. New rotary-wing UAS will considerably increase the effectiveness of the forces’ unified information and intelligence gathering system on the battlefield, he said, but did not give any details of the new systems. The VDV said earlier this month it was testing the new fixed-wing Iskatel (Searcher) T4 backpack-portable lightweight UA system. Several other nations are already developing or have fielded rotary-wing unmanned aircraft systems, including the Black Hornet that the British forces say they have successfully used in Afghanistan. (Source: UAS VISION/RIA Novosti)

31 Dec 13. PTERA is a scale 737 unmanned aircraft system with big implications for the world of commercial aircraft. Created by aerospace engineering company Area-I in Georgia, PTERA is the unmanned Prototype-Technology Evaluation and Research Aircraft yielding inexpensive flight research for commercial aircraft and NASA, and it’s using 3D Printing in a few instrumental ways.PTERA serves as a “bridge between wind tunnel and manned flight testing by enabling the low-cost, low-risk flight-based evaluation of a wide array of high risk technologies,” says Area-I’s CEO Dr. Nicholas Alley. This unmanned aircraft serves as a laboratory in which new aerodynamic technologies can be flown and tested for a “fraction of the cost of a manned flight test programme,” says Alley. “It’s a testbed with a large payload capacity that facilitates risk-mitigating, flight-based evaluations of sensors, payloads, guidance and control systems, and advance aerodynamic treatments and aircraft configurations before they transition to manned programmes.” (Source: UAS VISION)

28 Dec 13. Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS): Current and Future. To coincide with a visit from the Defence Secretary, the MoD released details of the UAS control centre at RAF Waddington. The MoD currently operates: Reaper MQ-9 Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (at an approved cost of £506m); Hermes 450 Tactical UAS (£215m); Desert Hawk Mini UAS (£70m); Scan Eagle Maritime UAS (£38m); Black Hornet Nano-UAS (£20m) and Tarantula-Hawk UAS(£15m). Future MoD UAS programmes include: Watchkeeper, Scavenger and Taranis.
Comment: The MoD is keen to stress that pilots, sensor operators and analysts involved with UAS all make decisions in real time. In over 54,000 hours of Operations Reaper, the only armed system

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