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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

15 Aug 06. Lockheed Martin Corp. has designed ways to convert its new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter into a combat drone as part of a broad push into robot technologies. Lockheed hopes to become as famous for its drones as Northrop Grumman Corp. and privately held General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., the companies behind the well-known Global Hawk and Predator unmanned aerial vehicles. At a Washington press briefing, Lockheed executives regaled reporters with the company’s range of related research.

15 Aug 06. During a press briefing at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Lockheed Martin showcased its latest developments in unmanned systems technology and its progress into the future net-enabled environment. Lockheed Martin is applying its technology, experience and operational knowledge to develop innovative autonomous, integrated unmanned systems to meet its customers’ future operational requirements — from the recently introduced Polecat and other unmanned aerial systems, to subsurface prowlers, such as the Sea Talon.

28 Jul 06. MUAS progress boosts Australian UAV plans. Australia’s plans to field unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to patrol its vast northern territorial waters have received a boost, with the first pass approval of the Multimission Unmanned Aerial System (MUAS) and the unveiling of two major trials to take place before the end of the year. Known as Project Air 7000 Phase 1B, MUAS is looking to acquire an aircraft capable of long endurance missions – lasting over 24 hours – at altitudes of up to 60,000 ft in a programme worth between AUD1bn and AUD1.5bn (USD766m to USD1.1bn)(Source: Jane’s Navy International)

14 Aug 06. BAE Systems successfully completed tests on its Skylynx IITM unmanned aircraft system at Yuma Proving Grounds on Aug. 9. During test flights it met key requirements including acoustic performance, endurance, and payload capability for reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition missions. The aircraft was developed to support missions such as those critical to the U.S. Marine Corps Tier II(regiment-level) unmanned aircraft program. The Skylynx II flew in a series of flight patterns to demonstrate agility. Using an integrated electro-optical/infrared imaging payload, the aircraft automatically located and tracked vehicle and human targets, transmitting coordinates to a ground station.

14 Aug 06. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. announced that its MQ-1 Predator(r) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) achieved a milestone of 200,000 flight hours last month, with more than three-quarters of that time spent in combat for a total of 10,961 combat missions. The milestone was achieved by P-107 on July 22 while it performed an armed reconnaissance mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, with 139 combat missions flown in the nearly two years it has been deployed.

16 Aug 06. BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Rafael Armament Development Authority, Ltd., have announced the arrival of the Protector Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) in the U.S. The companies will be demonstrating the USV’s force protection capabilities to the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and other maritime security agencies. Protector is a remote-controlled USV that is equipped with a stabilized mini-Typhoon weapon system (MK 49 Mod 0), cameras, radar equipment and electro optics. Highly autonomous, the Protector can successfully operate with general guidance from a commander and operator in port, riverine, harbor and coastal waterways – making it an innovative solution for today’s critical missions, including force protection, anti-terror, and surveillance and reconnaissance. The Protector was developed by Rafael in response to emerging terrorist threats against maritime assets, and is the only operational USV that exists today.

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