AINtv has been looking at new unmanned aerial vehicle designs in the works to meet evolving surveillance and other special-missions needs.
Unmanned aerial vehicles
AeroVironment and Eurocopter are exploring opportunities for cooperation. The potential transatlantic team would combine AeroVironment’s unmanned aircraft technology and systems integration skills and knowledge with Eurocopter’s helicopter technology expertise, a Eurocopter spokesman told AIN.
Israeli sensor specialist Controp Precision Technologies is launching the latest member of its sensor payload family here at le Bourget. The Speed-A is an electro-optical/infrared sensor that is tailored for use with lighter-than-air (LTA) platforms. The system is already operational in Israel and with the Canadian army, the latter having deployed the system overseas for use with the Aeronautics Skystar 300 aerostat. Controp has recently added a new customer for the Speed-A in Europe.
While the long-term goal for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is for 80 percent of their uses to be in the civilian sector, their main uses currently remain in the military sphere–although their role in border surveillance and disaster situations is increasing.
Although German UAV specialists Rheinmetall Airborne Systems (RAS) is now 51-percent owned by EADS, the Bremen-based outfit is retaining its own identity and continues to build upon expertise gained in operating two UAV systems for the German armed forces. It has developed a lightweight, low-cost tactical UAV and is proposing an innovative larger design that is hybrid in both airframe and power.
Integration of remotely piloted air systems (RPAS, or unmanned air systems) into non-segregated airspace in Europe has moved a step closer with the latest test flight in the Desire project (Demonstration of Satellites enabling the Insertion of RPAS in Europe). The project is funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Defence Agency (EDA) and led by Indra of Spain.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has evaluated small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) from three manufacturers since launching its Robotic Aircraft for Public Safety (Raps) program in December.
General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems and the U.S. Army have demonstrated a precision-guided mortar for use on small UAVs. The test, conducted under the Army’s Air Drop Mortar program, was intended to show a rapid target response capability sought by the Army, Marine Corps and special forces.
Rheinmetall Airborne Systems revealed a new fixed-wing/VTOL hybrid UAV at the ILA Berlin airshow. Displayed in full-scale model form, the Tactical Utility TU-150 is a joint development with Swiss UAV, the company that produced the VTOL UAV now marketed by Saab as the Skeldar.
On the day after the merger talks between EADS and BAE Systems became public this week, the French and German governments signed a cooperation agreement on future medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAVs. The two nations will develop a common operational requirement, and may also jointly operate an interim solution. Both countries currently fly the Israeli Heron 1 system in Afghanistan, but their respective air forces have been pressing for a replacement.