10 Jan 14. UAV integration with naval combat systems: DCNS opens a new chapter in naval aviation. Following sea trials conducted from 9-13 December 2013 as part of the Serval1 unmanned air systems (UAS) programme, the French defence procurement agency (DGA) and DCNS have validated the functional integration of an unmanned air vehicle (UAV) with the combat system of a warship. Launching and recovering a UAV from a warship presents many complex challenges. The successful physical and functional integration of a tactical VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) UAV on board a surface combatant by DCNS, with no impact on flight safety, represents a major breakthrough for naval air forces. Following sea trials on board the L’Adroit Gowind-class Offshore Patrol Vessel, the DGA, the French Navy and DCNS validated all functional blocks between DCNS’s Polaris® combat system and the Camcopter® S100 VTOL UAV developed by Schiebel of Austria. Based on the results of the trials, the DGA has issued DCNS with a permit to fly for the Camcopter® S100. The tests were designed to evaluate the performance of the DIOD-A module, developed by DCNS and integrated on this occasion with the Polaris® combat system, for managing UAV payload data (from electro-optical sensors in this case) in real time. A further aim was to demonstrate that the interface between the UAS and the ship’s combat system has no impact on flight safety. The DIOD-A module met all DGA requirements and now promises to deliver significant operational benefits to French Navy staff in charge of operating the combat management system and the VTOL UAV. The tests were the first of their kind in Europe and the successful outcome is attributable in large part to effective collaboration between government technical services, DCNS and its Austrian partner Schiebel.
06 Jan 14. As the war in Afghanistan ends and new threats emerge in the Asia-Pacific region, the Pentagon is considering adapting multiple weapons for UAS, including the Cold War-era Hydra 70 rocket and the Laser Homing Attack or Anti-Tank Missile, or LAHAT, according to its latest report on the future of unmanned systems.“Unmanned systems can be used in significantly different operating and threat conditions than manned platforms, come in a much wider range of classes and sizes than manned systems, can exhibit greater persistence and endurance than manned systems, and have the potential to support a large range of mission sets,” the recently released report states. The 168-page document, “Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap: FY2013-2038,” outlines the department’s long-term strategy for adopting the technology and was approved by Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, and Navy Adm. James Winnefeld, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Pentagon plans to spend almost $24bn on unmanned air, ground and maritime systems over the next five years through fiscal 2018, according to the document. While research and development funding for UAS is expected to fall by $1.3bn — more than a third — from fiscal 2013 to fiscal 2014, overall spending on the technology is expected to total at least $4.1bn in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. As the department develops systems that can operate in contested areas such as the Asia-Pacific, it’s trying to find ways to arm its nearly 11,000 unmanned aircraft with existing weapons. The Laser Homing Attack or Anti-Tank Missile, or LAHAT (Hebrew for “incandescence”), is a 3-foot-long, 30-pound projectile made by the Israel Aerospace Industries. A complete launcher houses four of the missiles. Initially developed for 105mm and 120mm tank guns, the weapon can hit targets from more than six miles away and has been tested on the RQ-5 Hunter UAS, according to the Pentagon report. The Army and Marine Corps are also looking at ways to further incorporate the 2-pound kamikaze UAS called Switchblade and developed by AeroVironment Inc. The system can be launched by hand and fly directly into a