The U.S. Navy says that the unmanned carrier-launched airborne surveillance and strike system (UClass) could be operational as early as Fiscal Year 2018. On August 14, the Department of Defense announced the award of $15 million contracts to Boeing, General Atomics, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman for preliminary design reviews (PDR) of the UClass air vehicle.
The U.S. Navy is rethinking prime contractor Northrop Grumman’s selection of an Exelis-built collision avoidance radar for the unmanned MQ-4C Triton maritime surveillance aircraft. The plan was to fit the Global Hawk derivative with the first Department of Defense (DOD) program of record “sense-and-avoid” radar, to comply with international airspace requirements and prevent midair collisions. However, “we’ve made a decision to pause on the development of that capability,” Capt. James Hoke, the Navy’s Triton program manager, said at the Unmanned Systems 2013 conference in Washington, D.C.
Lockheed Martin selected the Northrop Grumman scalable agile beam radar (SABR) for planned radar upgrades of approximately 445 U.S. and Taiwanese air force F-16s. Northrop Grumman announced the selection on July 31.
Northrop Grumman delivered the first MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter to the U.S. Navy earlier this month in preparation for ground and flight testing. The first MQ-8C arrived at the Naval Base Ventura County, Calif., Point Mugu sea test range, where it is assigned to the VX-30 air test and evaluation squadron.
Raytheon won a hard-fought contest to develop the U.S. Navy’s future airborne electronic warfare system, the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ). On July 8, the Naval Air Systems Command (Navair) said that it had awarded Raytheon a $279.4 million contract for the NGJ technology development (TD) phase.
EADS Cassidian chief executive officer Bernhard Gerwert has defended the company’s credibility as an unmanned airborne systems (UAS) provider, in the wake of the Euro Hawk cancellation. The company was a 50-percent partner in the joint venture with Northrop Grumman that was providing the high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) system to the German air force. The German parliament last week opened an investigation into the Euro Hawk affair and is expected to interview senior executives from both companies, as well as military and government officials, before reporting in early September.
If you look closely at the exhibits of the major aerospace and defense companies here this week, you will likely notice some unexpected capabilities on display. With their traditional defense businesses threatened by declining budgets, many of these companies are exploring “adjacent markets.”
This trend started with offers in the security and IT realms. But now they are extending to other areas, such as energy, environment and climate; food and water security; and natural disaster protection and response.
The U.S. state of Georgia’s governor Nathan Deal is leading a business mission to the Paris Air Show–the state’s first ever participation–from June 16-19. Industry giants such as Boeing, Raytheon, Pratt & Whitney, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman operate in Georgia (Hall 3 AB 97), one of the top five states for aerospace employment. The state recently published a report on the economic impact of Georgia’s aerospace industry with the Georgia Department of Economic Development responsible for planning and mobilizing state resources to attract new investment.
At an unmanned vehicles forum in Bonn this week, EADS Cassidian was again promoting what it now calls a Future European Male (Female) system. But the prospects of a pan-European program to match or improve on Male (medium-altitude long-endurance) UAV offerings from Israel, the U.S. and elsewhere have receded. France has decided to buy two GA-ASI Reaper systems, and there are indications that the UK will retain its Reapers beyond 2015, rather than retire them upon leaving Afghanistan.
A long list of major U.S. aerospace and missile defense systems that have been compromised by hackers was obtained by The Washington Post. The list was withheld from the publicly released version of a Defense Science Board Task Force report to the Pentagon on cyber threats last January. The report concluded that “the DOD is not prepared to defend against this threat.” According to senior industry and military officials contacted by the newpaper, most of the hacking was done by China.