13 Jul 16. RN frigates to lose shipborne UAS capability. Key Points:
• ScanEagle UAS operations from RN Type 23 frigates will end in November 2017
• Funding has not been provided by Joint Forces Command for a follow-on FDUAS system
A lack of funding for a nascent Flexible Deployable Unmanned Air System (FDUAS) means the UK Royal Navy (RN) will be left without maritime unmanned air system (UAS) provision from late 2017, IHS Jane’s has learned. Sources have confirmed to IHS Jane’s that shipborne UAS operations with the Boeing-Insitu ScanEagle will end in November 2017 when the Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) contract with Boeing expires. With FDUAS failing to gain support in Annual Budget Cycle 16 (ABC16), the RN will lose the ability to deploy organic unmanned aviation on frigates deployed east of Suez. The removal of ScanEagle from service also appears to be at odds with the RN’s stated desire to increase the use of unmanned and autonomous systems – a desire exemplified by the high profile attached to the forthcoming ‘Unmanned Warrior 16’ (UW16) experiment, taking place within the next UK-led NATO ‘Joint Warrior’ exercise in October this year. UW16 is intended to demonstrate and trial the tactical employment of unmanned and autonomous systems in the littoral and wider maritime environments. The UOR for a maritime UAS to provide persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and overwatch was originally raised in 2012. In June 2013 Boeing Defence UK was contracted to deliver a contractor-owned/contractor-operated service to meet the UOR: its original contract, running to March 2015, was subsequently the subject of a single-source extension into 2017. Since 2014, ScanEagle flights have operated from the Type 23 frigates HMSSomerset , HMS Northumberland , HMS Kent , HMS Richmond , and HMS St Albans , with HMS Portland now deploying. As well as using the UAS in primary ISR and overwatch roles, the RN has also conducted tactical development to explore the utility of ScanEagle for other tasks such as covert surveillance, anti-submarine warfare, naval gunfire support spotting, and support to Harpoon missile surface engagements. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
13 Jul 16. Farnborough 2016: Armed AVIC Harrier Hawk breaks cover. An armed variant of AVIC’s Harrier Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has been displayed by the company at the Farnborough International Airshow 2016. The aircraft features a tricycle undercarriage and is powered by a turboprop engine and three-bladed propeller. AVIC representatives were unable to reveal much about the aircraft, however, they did disclose that the system first flew in 2015, and has an endurance of 16 hours. The ground control station is housed in two truck containers.
At present, the UAV is operating in an unarmed version in China for use by military and commercial operators, with the platform featuring an electro-optical (EO) turret at the rear of the aircraft. The armed version of the UAV has four underwing hardpoints and a centreline fuselage hardpoint. The EO turret is a modular feature, with foreign systems potentially being integrated into the platform by operators.
According to the AVIC website, the unarmed version has a maximum take-off weight of 700 kg and can carry a payload of up to 100 kg. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
13 Jul 16. Apache ‘Version 6’ Update with Next-Gen Manned-Unmanned Teaming. The U.S. Army is developing a Version 6 update of the Boeing AH-64E Apache that by 2018 will enhance its fire-control radar, expand its ability to communicate with unmanned aircraft and soldiers on the ground, and increase onboard processing speeds. The work was underway as the service sought approval for its first multi-year procurement of the fearsome attack helicopter.
The “heavily software dependent” Version 6 capabilities will be implemented on the latest-model Apache by April 2018 at a cost of $298.5m, according to a “Justification and Approval” document signed in April 201