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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

27 Jan 05. Northrop Grumman Corporation has successfully completed the first phase of flight testing a demonstrator version of a new medium altitude endurance UAV it plans to offer U.S. military and homeland defense customers. The company-funded flights of the Hunter II prototype were conducted Dec. 27 – Jan. 12 at Cochise College Air Field in Douglas, Ariz. Designed to demonstrate the UAV’s endurance, communications and air-to-ground surveillance capabilities, the flights are part of the company’s ongoing effort to enhance the U.S. Army’s warfighting capabilities using autonomous unmanned air systems. The company plans to conduct additional test flights of the Hunter II demonstrator through the first quarter of 2005. Those flights will be used to integrate and characterize the performance of additional payloads. Northrop Grumman is the leading producer of unmanned aircraft systems for the U.S. Department of Defense. Hunter II’s modular architecture is designed to accommodate future advances in avionics technology, navigation systems, weapons management or air vehicle manufacturing and payload integration derived from the company’s other UAV programs, including the U.S. Air Force’s Global Hawk, the Army’s Hunter Fire Scout -being developed for Army and U.S. Navy use, and the stealthy X-47 Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems, currently in development for a joint Air Force/ Navy/DARPA team.

31 Jan 05. Vigilante UAV fires rockets while under control of UH-1 command helicopter. Under the Armed VTOL UAV Technology Integration program, AATD has been using the Vigilante UAV to explore concepts of operation for armed manned-unmanned helicopter teams. UAVs may be used to scout ahead of manned helicopters, finding and watching threats, designating targets with lasers for guided munitions fired from other aircraft or vehicles, or shooting the target themselves. Imagery confirming results can then be beamed back to manned team mates operating safely out of harms way. These successful launches of Hydra-70 rocket pave the way for integration of recently developed Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System laser-guided rockets and the addition of a laser designator to the existing Wescam 12DS-200 electro-optic/infra-red (EO/IR) sensor, making the lightweight UAV highly capable of prosecuting ‘soft’ targets such as unarmored vehicles and enemy personnel. ATI, Vigilante co-developer Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), and HURL rocket launcher developer Naval Surface Warfare Center-Indian Head integrated the mission payload equipment package and airborne control capabilities at ATI’s Newport facility. Stability and control as well as payload functionality flight tests were done at AATD’s home airfield at Fort Eustis, VA with the UAV being commanded from a ground-based control station. Imagery was excellent and free
of vibrations.

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