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.
Unmanned aerial vehicle
The U.S. government should release a draft regulation governing the operation of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) by the end of the year, federal officials told the Unmanned Systems Conference this week.
Government agencies would not be allowed to use unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to track individuals without first obtaining a warrant under a set of recommendations developed by a coalition of state governmental organizations.
Sikorsky Aircraft is developing a set of hardware and software capabilities to support autonomous flight of unmanned or optionally piloted vertical-lift aircraft. Executives said the goal is to deliver an order of magnitude improvement in the safety and reliability of unmanned aircraft, which experience losses at a rate of once every 1,000 flight hours.
The Pentagon approved full-rate production of the MQ-1C Gray Eagle multi-role unmanned aircraft on July 26. That same day, manufacturer General Atomics reported the first flight of an improved version of the aircraft that it will demonstrate to the U.S. Army later this year.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued type certificates in the restricted category to the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle X200 and AeroVironment Puma AE small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) on July 19, for the first time permitting operators to use the aircraft for commercial purposes.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration expects to formulate a standard by 2016 that will permit unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to interoperate with manned aircraft using an “electronic means” to see and avoid potential collisions, according to the executive leading the FAA’s effort to introduce UAS into the airspace system.
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.
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.
Boeing’s Insitu subsidiary won a UK competition to provide unmanned maritime surveillance system on Royal Navy frigates and support ships. Insitu will provide the ScanEagle UAS under an initial two-year $45 million contractor-owned, contractor-operated (coco) contract. EADS Cassidian, Lockheed Martin and QinetiQ were also invited to bid for the deal. Insitu has executed similar “coco” contracts for other ScanEagle customers.