The U.S. Navy awarded Northrop Grumman a contract to build six more MQ-8C unmanned helicopters based on the Bell 407, bringing to 14 the number of new, larger Fire Scouts under contract. The Navy plans to acquire a total of 30 MQ-8Cs under a rapid development effort that calls for deployment next year.
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.
A study commissioned by the trade group representing the unmanned systems and robotics industry forecasts that unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) will generate $13.6 billion in economic impact in the first three years after they are cleared to operate in the U.S. National Airspace System.
Fifty applicants from 37 states responded to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s screening information request (SIR) for public entities interested in operating test ranges for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
Elbit Systems announced new orders from home and abroad for its top-of-the-line Hermes 900-series UAV system. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) placed a follow-on order on December 31 last year, having first bought the system in 2010. The IDF has also funded some new features, including quick reconfiguration of payloads, in a separate contract placed in January worth $35 million. The company also sold a Hermes 900 system comprising multiple UAVs and ground stations to “a customer in the Americas.“
Unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operators in the U.S. would have to file and fly instrument flight plans and equip their aircraft for position reporting with transponders and automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast Out (ADS-B Out) transmissions based on GPS.
The British Army is using what may be the world’s smallest UAV yet deployed on military operations. The Black Hornet “nanocopter” is eight inches long with a rotor diameter of about five inches and weighs less than two pounds. It can provide video and still imagery of difficult-to-reconnoitre targets such as walled compounds and even the interior of buildings. It was recently introduced in Afghanistan and demonstrated in public for the first time last week during a pre-deployment exercise on Salisbury Plain in the UK, for the next British Army task force to be sent there.
The U.S. Army cancelled development of the Northrop Grumman long-endurance, multi-intelligence vehicle (LEMV), a huge, optionally manned hybrid airship that the service planned to deploy to Afghanistan as an urgent requirement for persistent surveillance. The airship was overweight and behind schedule; it made its first and only announced flight last August, about 10 months late.
The Single European Sky ATM Research Joint Undertaking (SJU) has issued a call for proposals from industry to participate in remotely piloted air system (RPAS) demonstration activities.
Boeing and Abu Dhabi Autonomous Systems Investments (Adasi) signed a teaming agreement on February 18 to support Boeing unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the UAE, and to help develop that country’s own technical capabilities. The parties signed the agreement at the International Defense Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi.
Embraer Defense and Security and AEL Systems, the Brazilian subsidiary of Israel’s Elbit Systems, signed an agreement to accept unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) developer Avibras as a shareholder in their UAS-focused joint venture, Harpia Systems.