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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

25 Feb 14. Watchkeeper Starts Training Flights in UK Restricted Airspace. The British Army’s Watchkeeper is due to begin flying over British skies this week. The aircraft, which has been tested in West Wales since 2010 and is nearing the end of its trials, is expected to take a “significant role” in future military campaigns. This week, highly-skilled pilots will fly Watchkeeper in restricted airspace over the Ministry of Defence’s Salisbury Plain Training Area in Wiltshire, overseen by military air traffic controllers. The Army is due to begin its own training later this year. Watchkeeper, which is being developed by Thales UK, is unarmed and does not carry any weapons. It has already clocked up 500 hours of flying time in West Wales. The Army currently operates four types of UAS in Afghanistan, which play an important role protecting soldiers on the ground by providing them with intelligence and reducing the need for deployment. Watchkeeper will provide additional capability to the fleet – which has already completed 120,000 flying hours – once in service this summer. Lance Corporal Christopher Gazey, a UAS analyst for 1st Artillery Brigade, said images produced by Watchkeeper would help give the Army better situational awareness. From this week, Watchkeeper will be operated alongside helicopters and other aircraft from the Boscombe Down airfield in Amesbury, Wiltshire, by 1st Artillery Brigade. (Source: UAS VISION/The Telegraph)

28 Feb 14. Lockheed Martin Skunkworks ARES Explained. The Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded Systems (ARES) is a vertical takeoff and lift
(VTOL) flight module that could adapt to multiple missions with interchangeable payloads, offering new capabilities and enabling new operational concepts. Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works is leading a team with Piasecki Aircraft to develop the next generation of compact, high-speed vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) delivery systems with the Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded System (ARES). Formerly known as Transformer (TX), ARES’ unique design could adapt to multiple missions with interchangeable payloads; including cargo pods, medical evacuation units, a tactical ground vehicle, troops, and armed scout, reconnaissance and strike capabilities. This flexibility combined with emerging autonomous unmanned air vehicle control systems provides terrain-independent transportation and cargo supply capability to ground combat units. Compared to a conventional helicopter, ARES’ tilting ducted fans provide a safer operating environment that’s half the landing zone with faster transit speeds of up to 200 knots. (Source: UAS VISION/YouTube)

28 Feb 14. Hungarian Team Creates Flock of QuadCopters. A Hungarian team has created UAS that can fly as a coordinated flock. The researchers watched as the ten autonomous robots took to the air in a field outside Budapest, zipping through the open sky, flying in formation or even following a leader, all without any central control. The aircraft, called quadcopters because they have four rotors, navigate using signals from Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, communicate their positions to one another via radio and compute their own flight plans. They were created by a team of scientists led by Tamás Vicsek, a physicist at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. UAS are typically designed to fly alone, and although other research groups have created flocks before, Vicsek says that those attempts involved cutting some corners — the copters were restricted to indoor arenas or controlled by a central computer. (Source: UAS VISION/NPR)

27 Feb 14. Representatives from Oklahoma’s Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) sector participated in the announcement of the creation of the International Consortium of Aeronautical Test Sites (ICATS), as one of its four founding members. The purposes of the international consortium are collaboration, knowledge sharing and fostering industrial relationships between UAS clusters in the U.S., Canada and Europe

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