The U.S. Marine Corps has deployed the new RQ-21A Blackjack unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to Afghanistan through an early operational capability. The 135-pound-mtow aircraft is undergoing initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E), a phase the service expects to complete this year.
Unmanned aerial vehicle
Raphael Pirker cast a long shadow over the Unmanned Systems 2014 conference. Pirker’s challenge of an FAA fine for allegedly flying his Ritewing Zephyr recklessly at the University of Virginia came up repeatedly during the annual conference the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) stages, this year in Orlando.
Many of us in aviation in the U.S. haven’t been paying much attention to our neighbor to the north. Canadians are known for being somewhat quiet and unassuming. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that quiet and unassuming doesn’t mean they’re not busily working on practical solutions to important issues. In fact, there’s a lot going on in Canada that we in the U.S. could learn from in the aviation arena.
The Turkish aerospace industry was on full display last week during the ILA Berlin airshow, at which it was the official ‘partner country’. Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) put the T129 attack helicopter and the Anka Male UAV on static display, and showed the Hurkus turboprop trainer on its stand in Hall 6. Also in that hall were displays by avionics specialist Aselsan; simulation and training company Havelsan, missile house Roketsan, systems house STM, defense research and space organization Tubitak, and Turkish Airlines.
Airbus Defence & Space (D&S), Alenia and Dassault Aviation have proposed a Project Definition (PD) study for a future European medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAV to the governments of France, Germany and Italy. At the same time, however, Airbus D&S may be working with Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) to develop what it describes as “bridging solution” for the German armed forces, using the Heron TP. Meanwhile, General Atomics–Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) is quietly confident that Germany may join the European “Reaper Club” that already comprises France, Italy and the UK as members.
German aviation and electronic system house ESG has proposed a new Israeli SIGINT aircraft as a replacement for Germany’s cancelled Euro Hawk SIGINT UAV. ESG displayed a large model of IAI-Elta’s conversion of the Bombardier Global 5000 business jet on its stand at the ILA Berlin airshow this week. The Luftwaffe has been told to evaluate five alternatives to the Euro Hawk, but this is the only one that would abandon development of the Integrated Signals Intelligence System (ISIS) SIGINT that Airbus Defence & Space was developing for the Euro Hawk.
Battle lines have formed in the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) review of the $10,000 fine the FAA charged Raphael Pirker for operating a small unmanned aircraft. Six parties filed “friend of the court” amicus briefs by the NTSB’s May 16 deadline, including a coalition of major news media organizations supporting Pirker’s position.
The U.S. Navy has not determined how to fit a “due regard” radar on its unmanned MQ-4C Triton, which will likely start initial operations in 2017 without the subsystem intended to help protect it from midair collisions. But the Triton will enter service with more capability than any other unmanned aircraft to “detect and avoid” other aircraft, the Navy’s program manager asserts.
Having lost the first round of its attempt to fine Raphael Pirker for using a flying wing to take video, the FAA plans to issue a public notice reaffirming its authority to regulate the use of small unmanned aircraft. The agency is appealing a March ruling by a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) administrative law judge rejecting the $10,000 fine.
U.S. congressional leaders, addressing those attending the Unmanned Systems Conference in Orlando on Tuesday, said Congress will likely expedite provisions of the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act that require the FAA to introduce unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the nation’s airspace.