27 May 05. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV): 1115 Flight RAF. RAF News noted that 1115 Flight RAF was based at Nellis AFB in Nevada, operating the pilotless Predator aircraft alongside US Air Force personnel. The Flight has 44 people, commanded by a Squadron Leader and including seven pilots and eight sensor operators. The main occupation of the US/UK Combined Joint Predator Task Force is surveillance over Iraq. Comment: It is understood that the General Atomics’ Predator A UAV operated by the RAF are leased from the US Air Force. The Chief of the Air Staff is recorded as saying that members of the Flight are “building up a reservoir of UAV experience within the RAF, on which we intend to capitalise in years to come” (which could be interpreted as: “Go away Army people, UAV are Air Force business”!). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 05/21, 30 May 05). Comment (BS): This announcement may explain the continued delay in the Watchkeeper project reaching Main Gate and final approval from the IAB where the vote is believed to be very close)
02 Jun 06. Alenia Flies Sky-X UCAV Technology Demonstrator. Finmeccanica unit Alenia Aeronautica has flown its Sky-X technology demonstrator for the first time, the company said in a statement May 31.
26 May 05. ScanEagle, a long-endurance fully autonomous UAV developed by Boeing [NYSE:BA] and The Insitu Group, has surpassed 3,000 combat flight hours during operations in Iraq in just ten months. The low-cost UAV has proven to be one of the military’s most effective tools for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the war on terrorism. Since being deployed by the First Marine Expeditionary Force in August 2004, ScanEagle has accumulated flight hours at an increasingly high rate due to the need for its unmatched capabilities.
02 Jun 05. Northrop Grumman Corporation has started construction of its X-47B J UCAS aircraft, the world’s first unmanned surveillance attack aircraft that can operate from both land bases and aircraft carriers. Production is taking place in the St. Louis, Mo., manufacturing facility of Northrop Grumman’s teammate, GKN Aerospace. GKN is responsible for both the design and fabrication of the X-47B’s forward fuselage. Final assembly of the first X-47B will begin this summer at Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale, Calif. facility. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)/U.S. Air Force/U.S. Navy J-UCAS program will demonstrate the technical feasibility and operational utility of low-observable—or “stealth”—land- and sea-based unmanned surveillance attack aircraft, and provide the Air Force and Navy the option to acquire these systems early in the next decade. The X-47B design demonstrates a variety of foundational system capabilities including land- and carrier-based operations and automated aerial refueling. The design also demonstrates key mission-requirement capabilities such as persistent surveillance and reconnaissance, all-weather precision targeting, and precision attack of fixed and mobile surface targets.
30 May 05. Vought Completes Tests on First Enhanced Wing for Next Generation Global Hawk. Vought Aircraft Industries, Inc. announced today that it has successfully tested to 100 percent limit load its first enhanced wing for the U.S. Air Force’s new RQ-4B Global Hawk unmanned air vehicle (UAV) produced by Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC). This testing, which is similar to ones conducted previously on the RQ-4A configuration, is designed to simulate forces experienced due to specific “gust load” winds during a mission. The enhanced wing is one of a number of system improvements prime contractor Northrop Grumman is making to Global Hawk to accommodate an increased payload carrying capability while maintaining current platform performance specifications. Vought’s work scope includes design development, fabrication, assembly and structural testing of the new wing. The company is currently scheduled