The U.S. Navy and prime contractor Northrop Grumman completed the first at-sea deck handling tests of the X-47B unmanned combat air system (UCAS) demonstrator last month. The demonstrator aircraft, one of two built for the program, performed numerous activities aboard the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman both in port at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., and during the 15-day test phase at sea.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
News and issues relating to civil and military unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) of all kinds and sizes, including those used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), combat (unmanned combat air vehicles, or UCAVs), law enforcement, research and other applications. Of particular focus is the FAA's planned integration of UAS into the U.S. national airspace system.
Boeing said on December 13 that it demonstrated an unmanned Little Bird helicopter for the Republic of Korea Army. The MD 500 variant flew for about 25 minutes at the army’s aviation school in Nonsan, South Korea.
Europe’s first unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) has flown. The Neuron technology demonstrator took off from the Dassault test base at Istres, France, at dawn on December 1. Dassault is the prime contractor, teamed with Alenia Aermacchi (Italy); EADS-CASA (Spain); Hellenic Aerospace Industries (Greece); Ruag (Switzerland); Saab (Sweden) and Thales (France).
Although already deployed on operations to meet urgent needs, the Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned surveillance helicopter has reliability and sustainability problems that have delayed its regular fielding. An updated selected acquisition report (SAR) obtained by InsideDefense.com reveals that both the initial operational capability and the full-rate production decision have been delayed by about two years until May or June 2014.
The U.S. trade organization representing the unmanned systems industry stepped up pressure on the FAA to select six test ranges for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) as required by the FAA reauthorization act signed into law in February.
UAV Navigation, a developer of flight-control avionics and motion sensors for unmanned aircraft, said it demonstrated its LCAP autopilot system in a “sea-skimming” target UAV designed to mimic the threat of an incoming missile.
Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy completed the first shore-based trials in early November of a wireless handheld device that will enable operators to maneuver the X-47B unmanned combat air system (UCAS) on Navy carrier decks. The tests were conducted at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.
A manufacturer of small UAVs said it was awarded the first permit from the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (Enac) to operate a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) in non-segregated airspace. Aermatica, of Venegono Superiore, Italy, said it obtained the permit for its Anteos RPA, a battery-powered quadcopter.
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.
The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) awarded a $10 million contract to Boeing’s Phantom Works research and development unit last month to study a long-endurance, autonomous UAV for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions and potentially for strike capability. The four-year study of Boeing’s Dominator UAV will also investigate carriage of the Textron Common Smart Submunition (CSS).