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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

31 Oct 06. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., along with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Air and Marine, yesterday unveiled CBP-104, CBP’s second Predator® B unmanned aircraft system (UAS), at Ft. Huachuca/Muni-Libby Army Air Field (AAF) in Sierra Vista, Ariz. Featuring an enhanced Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) camera system and Ku-band satellite equipment, CBP-104 will begin operating from Libby AAF in support of border security operations along the Arizona border with Mexico in November. By early 2007, operation of the aircraft will transfer to CBP’s Air and Marine Operations Center (AMOC) in Riverside, Calif., which will fly the aircraft remotely via satellite communications. Providing situational awareness well beyond the capabilities of manned aircraft, the multi-mission Predator B remains the cost-effective system of choice to support all homeland security missions across the nation’s borders and maritime approaches. Predator B is designed to fly in the National Air Space System (NAS) just like manned aircraft and incorporates the redundant avionics and communications necessary to operate with air traffic control and other aircraft. This capability, in conjunction with sophisticated sensors and long-endurance, allows the aircraft to provide persistent operational awareness, making it a tremendous force multiplier for CBP.

07 Nov 06. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. announced that its Altair® unmanned aircraft system (UAS) recently completed a long-endurance fire mapping mission in support of the arson-caused Esperanza Fire started near Banning, Calif., in Riverside County on October 26. Responding to a call from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and the Fire Incident Command Center to assist with fire mapping efforts, GA-ASI teamed with NASA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service (USDA-FS) to provide data gathering resources in an effort to track the movement of the fire through the critical nighttime hours when other aircraft and imaging resources were unavailable.
Following receipt of an emergency amendment to a recently-acquired Certificate Of Authorization (COA) from the FAA, the Altair UAS was launched from GA-ASI’s Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility near Palmdale, Calif. on Oct. 28 equipped with an AMS-Wildfire sensor, a sensing system developed by NASA for improved imaging capabilities and real-time processing and data delivery. Operating at an altitude of 43,000 feet, the aircraft lingered over the fire over a 16-hour period, delivering real-time thermal infrared data to the fire management team via a satellite communications link, with some 100 visible and infrared images distributed and more than 20 data files that the fire perimeter location generated. The Incident Command Center utilized the thermal imagery and derived products to study the fire overnight and prepare maps to assist in the planning efforts for the Incident Action Plan distributed at the team’s morning brief.

Nov 06. In a major step forward, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has decided to induct Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs) for better surveillance and targeting of enemy movements. Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi told India Strategic magazine that the IAF had ‘completed’ its planned induction of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) required for surveillance and will now go in for the armed variety called UCAVs. “We do not have them yet, but in due course we need to acquire them due to the emerging symmetric and asymmetric threats,” the air chief said in the interview, an advance copy of which has been made available to IANS. UAVs carry only cameras and sensors to detect movement of aircraft, vehicles and men. He did not give details but said the IAF was aiming at precision delivery of weapons to minimize collateral damage on the one hand and to maximize destruction of a target on the other on all its aircraft, wheth

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