25 May 16. Neuron Programme Extended to Maritime Testing. France’s DGA defence procurement agency has begun new testing of the Neuron unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) demonstrator in a maritime environment. The testing will be extended to include involvement of the French navy’s aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. The multi-national European UCAV developed by Dassault Aviation first flew in 2012, and had carried out some 123 sorties by September 2015, when testing seemed to finish. However, the DGA says that a series of electromagnetic signature tests, plus the maritime testing – the first flight under which was carried out on 17 May from Istres air base in France – will now take the campaign out to 2017. What was previously land-focused testing will extend to a national maritime assessment involving the carrier, to be overseen by the DGA. The electromagnetic signature measurement testing will be carried out in Bruz, France, the French defence ministry says.
“Neuron foreshadows the next generation of combat aircraft,” it says. “Neuron marks a major technology research effort [for] the ministry of defence for the future of combat aviation in Europe and [will] maintain core industrial skills.”
Testing of Neuron by a consortium including industrial partners from France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Switzerland involved a series of flights in several of the countries, to assess characteristics such as stealth and weapon drops.
It is unlikely that any carrier-based testing will take place with the UCAV. In the USA, Northrop Grumman’s X-47B UCAV demonstrator took off from and landed aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt in August 2014, also operating alongside a manned Boeing F/A-18C. (Source: UAS VISION/ Flightglobal)
23 May 16. AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV), a world leader in unmanned aircraft systems, today announced the United States Combatting Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO) is evaluating the company’s new tethered unmanned aircraft system, named Tether Eye™, for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) and security applications. The CTTSO funded the development program under a US government contract.
The AeroVironment Tether Eye unmanned aircraft system is designed to provide continuous, 24-hours-a-day surveillance at up to 150 feet above its launch point. Tether Eye deploys automatically from a small, weather-sealed, self-contained base station and ascends to a pre-determined hover altitude from where viewers of its video feed take advantage of its 360-degree field of view. The specially designed and ruggedized tether connecting Tether Eye to its base station provides continuous power, which, combined with AeroVironment’s track record of proven reliability, enables uninterrupted long-term operation.
“Having the ability to deploy a ‘virtual observation tower’ at a moment’s notice above buildings and vehicles represents a game-changing capability for ISR and security operations that has the potential to save lives,” said Amanda Toman, Program Manager at the CTTSO. “We look forward to continuing our evaluation of Tether Eye’s capabilities with AeroVironment as a possible deployable capability across government facilities.”
Current Tether Eye payloads include electro-optical (EO) and infrared (IR) cameras and AeroVironment’s encrypted Digital Data Link (DDL). The EO/IR camera provides both day and night imagery with full motion video transmitted directly to a Ground Control Station (GCS) that operates each platform within AeroVironment’s market-leading family of small UAS and Tactical Missile Systems. The Digital Data Link, integrated into each of AeroVironment’s platforms, provides secure communication with the unmanned aircraft system and communications relay with other platforms.
“Tether Eye effectively complements our family of small unmanned aircraft systems by providing a valuable new capability – continuous ISR and security for buildings or stationary vehicles in defense, security and comme