The U.S. Department of Transportation inspector general’s office is evaluating the FAA’s progress toward integrating unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the national airspace system.
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.
On October 6 Israel shot down a UAV over the northern Negev desert, south of Hebron and near the country’s nuclear weapons site at Dimona. The UAV entered Israeli airspace from the Mediterranean and was intercepted by F-16s from Ramon air base. According to Israeli media reports, the first Python missile fired at the drone missed, but a second was successful. The Israeli air force has released a video purporting to show the engagement.
Paramount’s innovative AHRLAC (advanced high-performance reconnaissance light aircraft) program is advancing rapidly, with the first prototype now in the final stages of construction. The South African company intends to fly the first machine next year, but will not give a more exact schedule.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin testing and evaluating small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) this month near Lawton, Oklahoma, under a federal and state initiative to study UAS applications for emergency response. The DHS is also considering the use of small UAS by its constituent organizations: the Coast Guard and the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agency.
U.S. senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced the formation of the Senate Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Caucus on September 27.
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.
Northrop Grumman is marketing an unmanned aircraft that could be a low-cost alternative for training the operators of its own MQ-5B Hunter and the Predator and Reaper UAVs made by General Atomics.
The U.S. Army has validated the design and functionality of a second-phase ground-based sense and avoid (GBSAA) radar system that will support training flights of MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAVs in unrestricted airspace beginning in 2014.
UAVs operating over Somalia have been involved in a number of crashes and incidents since last summer, including a near-collision with a Boeing 737 departing Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport in January, according to the United Nations panel monitoring compliance with an arms embargo of that country. The pilot of the 737 altered course after receiving a warning from the aircraft’s traffic alert collision avoidance system.
The UAV community that will meet soon in Las Vegas for Unmanned Systems North America might draw some wisdom from the effort to introduce unmanned aircraft in UK civil airspace.