09 Oct 06. Put it in the ‘too-hard-to-track-down at a convention’ file, but US Army sources say everyone is awaiting a big new ‘mixed use’ report on airspace issues as they relate to UAVs operating with other aircraft. Reportedly the report is a no-holds barred run-down on near-misses and maybe non-misses incurred by US Army aviation aircraft (helicopters as well as fixed wing) operating around UAVs in the Iraq and Afghanistan theatres. While there was knowledge of imminent release of such a study, nobody here seemed to know what its implications for UAV development will be. ‘All I can tell you is that its existence has caused a freeze on discussion of UAV issues within FCS particularly,’ said one source. ‘There is some speculation that the four classes of UAVs in FCS are about to be cut back, perhaps to only two classes.’ Nobody was sure whether it will refer to airspace issues within CONUS – a matter deemed important when UAVs return if, when US forces are pulled back. Nor could anyone identify the source of the report. ‘It’s out there, it’s big, and people are very afraid,’ the source added.
06 Oct 06. BAE Systems has received a U.S. Army contract for a new generation of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) systems that will provide precise detection and identification of known and potential threats. BAE Systems’ AURORA Generation IVTM spectral ISR system combines hyperspectral imaging technology with high-resolution electro-optic and infrared sensors with an airborne processing system that exploits and fuses spectral and imagery data in real time. Work on the contract will be performed at BAE Systems’ Advanced Technologies unit in Washington. Advanced Technologies is a research group that specializes in transitioning key technologies for urgent war fighter needs and in developing long-lead technologies for emerging requirements.
Oct 06. Foster-Miller, Inc., announced an additional $20m worth of TALON® robots and replacement parts have been ordered by the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) on behalf of the Robotic Systems Joint Program Office (RSJPO), for immediate use by “robot hospitals” in Iraq and Afghanistan. The funds have been released from a $63.4m IDIQ (indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity) contract with the Navy – one of two that Foster-Miller has for TALON robots and replacement parts. “Robot hospitals” in Iraq and Afghanistan fix TALON robots damaged by defusing or destroying IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and put them back into service within four hours. They are staffed by Army, Marine and Navy maintenance and repair technicians whose mission is to get TALONs back into the hands of troops by rebuilding them with a combination of replacement parts and usable parts scavenged from other damaged TALON robots.
Oct 06. Two additional unmanned Predator Bs have been ordered from General Automics Aeronautical Systems by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) /Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The DHS/CBP have received two Predator Bs – one in September 2005 which operated until late April 2006 when it crashed, reportedly due to operator error. However, during its service the UAS flew over 1,000 flight hours and was credited with the interception of 2,000 illegal aliens and the capture of 8,000 lb of drugs. The second UAS was delivered by GA-ASI in September and is just beginning operations. Company representatives at AUSA said that the two new Predator’s were additional to the initial two orders and that it was likely the crashed aircraft would be replaced. Elsewhere the Australian Ministry of Defence also completed Predator B trails in September off the country’s North West Shelf region. The trials, conducted by the Defence Science & Technology Organisation and other agencies, were designed to incorporate the testing of an integrated maritime surveillance radar which, if successful, will be used to counter drug running, people smuggling and illegal fishing. Results from the