Sweden became the first export customer for the Textron/AAI Shadow 200 tactical unmanned aircraft system when a contract for two Shadow systems was finally completed on May 18. The contract was to be signed in 2008, but was deferred due to budgetary problems.
UAVs and drones
Amid tight security, the Taranis unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) was unveiled at BAE Systems’ Warton airfield in England this week. Uncleared visitors were not allowed to approach the aircraft, but the stealth-driven configuration seemed unchanged from artists’ impressions released previously. The Taranis concept demonstrator is due to fly next year from an undisclosed overseas airbase.
As part of a concerted drive to increase the number of unmanned aircraft displays at the Farnborough show, organizers have installed a special netted area in Hall Three where exhibitors are flying small unmanned aerial systems (UAS).
Although developed to help answer the UK’s surveillance requirements, the BAE Systems Mantis unmanned air vehicle technology demonstrator has become the focus of wider interest from elsewhere in Europe. The UAV is seen now as a potential platform to answer the time-critical requirements of France and Italy, as well as the UK itself, and will inevitably draw interest from other nations such as Germany and Spain.
The FAA will be studying how to integrate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System through a cooperative research and development agreement it forged last month with Boeing subsidiary Insitu. This partnership will enable further study of how unmanned aircraft operate and help the industry move closer to a sense-and-avoid solution.
Boeing has been awarded a three-year $9.8 million contract from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory to develop and demonstrate technologies that enable multiple small unmanned aerial vehicles to coordinate with each other and a manned airborne control station to carry out intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
Boeing successfully flew its ScanEagle Compressed Carriage (SECC) unmanned airborne system (UAS) at a test facility in eastern Oregon on May 12, the company announced this week. The 75-minute flight evaluated the unmanned aircraft’s flight characteristics in a simulated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) mission.
Derivatives of the ScanEagle UAV are proliferating, as Boeing exploits its ownership of Insitu, the company that originally designed it for commercial applications. At the Navy League convention, Boeing Phantom Works unveiled the MagEagle, a UAV equipped with a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD).
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) chose the Navy League convention to introduce a carrier-capable version of its Predator C UAV. GA-ASI has proposed the Sea Avenger for the emerging U.S. Navy Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike System (UClass). It is based on the jet-powered, stealthy development of the Predator series that GA-ASI has funded through design, development and into flight test.
Earlier this week at the Navy League Sea-Air-Space Exposition, Northrop Grumman and Bell Helicopter announced the joint development of a new high-capacity unmanned helicopter. Known as Fire-X, the machine is initially aimed at a U.S. Navy requirement for a medium-range unmanned air system that is expected to be announced next year. It has applications in several roles, including ISR and battlefield supply duties.