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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

18 Oct 06. Northrop Grumman Enters BAMS Competition. Northrop Grumman plans to offer a variant of its Block 20 RQ-4B Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle as its entry for the U.S. Navy’s long-awaited Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) contract bid. Although the formal request for proposal is not expected until May or June of next year, the value of the contract through the development phase is expected to be “under $1bn,” according to Robert Mitchell, special programs vice president, Northrop Grumman Integrated systems. Speaking in Washington, D.C. Oct. 18, Mitchell — generally considered the “father” of the Global Hawk program — said the number and configuration of aircraft procured under BAMS is a key aspect of the competition, and thus is considered proprietary information. “It’s too early to show our hand,” he said. “I can say we will be offering a very special radar for it.” In previous statements, the U.S. Navy has said its BAMS procurement will call for up to 48 UAVS to be forward-deployed by 2009, controlled from five command centers in various locations around the world. A key competitor in the BAMS bid is likely to be Lockheed Martin, which is teaming with General Atomics to provide a naval variant of the Predator ‘B’ UAV known as the Mariner II. In mid-June, the mid-altitude Mariner operated for several days in support of Trident Warrior 2006, a U.S. Navy exercise off the California coast. Lockheed Martin may also enter its new Polecat, a large, high-altitude UAV launched in June as a technology demonstrator and visual indicator of the company’s return to the unmanned aerial systems market. A Horten-style flying wing, Polecat is constructed largely from composite materials, as is the Mariner. Rounding out the field, General Dynamics’ Gulfstream Aerospace unit has offered an optionally-manned version of its G550 business jet. This aircraft has less flight endurance than the two UAV-based entries, though it offers greater dash speed and a considerably larger payload. Northrop Grumman rolled out the first Block 20 Global Hawk just a few weeks ago and expects to fly it before the end of the year. Significantly larger than the Block 10 aircraft now in service with the U.S. Air Force and Navy, the Block 20 will serve as the base airframe for up to 47 planned aircraft, including more than three dozen Block 30 and 40 models in the works. Like the first-generation Block 10 Global Hawk, the Block 20 is focused on imagery collection. The Block 30 will add an Advanced Signals Intelligence (ASIP) capability, while Block 40 is slated to feature the multi-platform radar technology insertion program (MP-RTIP) sensor, an electronically-scanning array designed for both air-to-air and air-to-ground coverage. (Source: Defense News)

17 Oct 06. RAFAEL Armament Development Authority Ltd. carried out a demonstration of the integrated operational capabilities of the SPIKE multi-purpose missile system, the Tycoon tactical C4I system and the SkyLite B mini-UAV for foreign customers and Israel Defense Force representatives last month in Israel. The purpose of the demonstration was to exhibit the combined capabilities of information gathering and precision attack while shortening the sensor-to-shooter cycle at the battalion level. The participants in the exercise included RAFAEL’s SkyLite B, long endurance mini-UAV, the SPIKE-LR, multi-purpose missile and the Tycoon TCS, tactical C4I system. The SkyLite B, recently combat proven, is a man-portable, mini-UAV system that enables long periods of stealthy reconnaissance and surveillance during the day, at night and in winds of 30 knots. The SkyLite B comprises advanced gimbaled and stabilized electro-optic payloads, a built in electro-optical tracker and a camera guide mode which allows the system to autonomously and continuously track a moving target in real-time and provides extremely high resolution images with extremely accurate targeting information. The well-known SPIKE-LR multi-purpo

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