Integration of remotely piloted air systems (RPAS, or unmanned air systems) into non-segregated airspace in Europe has moved a step closer with the latest test flight in the Desire project (Demonstration of Satellites enabling the Insertion of RPAS in Europe). The project is funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Defence Agency (EDA) and led by Indra of Spain.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) announced a partnership with Canadian software house OMX, in connection with that country’s joint unmanned surveillance and target acquisition system (Justas) requirement. GA-ASI is already teamed with simulation specialist CAE to offer the Predator B and/or Predator C Avenger to Canada.
Boeing subsidiary Insitu has sold several export variants of its Integrator unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to international customers, the company said this week. The Block 2 variant for export is described as a separate baseline system to the 135-pound maximum takeoff weight (mtow) Integrator being developed for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps RQ-21A small tactical UAS (STUAS) requirement. The Integrator and its smaller sister, the 44-pound mtow ScanEagle, use a common pneumatic catapult launch and SkyHook catch cable retrieval systems, and a common command-and-control system.
China’s under-development J-20 combat aircraft recently demonstrated its missile-launch mechanism, which the Chinese media tout as a simple but “more efficient” design than that of the American F-22.
Northrop Grumman (NG) is promoting the E-2D Hawkeye AEW aircraft to Malaysia, as well as India and the U.A.E. NG attended the recent LIMA show in Langkawi, where it was publicizing the recent go-ahead for full E-2D production by the U.S. Navy. Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) is expected in 2015. The Navy’s program of record is for 75 E-2Ds; nine have been built for development and operational testing, and 11 more are now in production.
Tinker Air Force Base near Oklahoma City, Okla., the state’s largest single-site employer with some 20,000 civilian employees, is preparing for a lead role in the maintenance, repair and overhaul of U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
The Colombian Army formally inducted into its fleet five new Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk helicopters. Colombia is the first South American country to acquire the S-70i variant, which is assembled at Sikorsky’s PZL Mielec facility in Poland.
Sikorsky said the helicopters were custom-equipped in the U.S. for the special forces of the Colombian army’s air assault division. They join a national fleet of 96 UH-60L Black Hawks operated by the Colombian National Police, army and air force. Colombia operates the world’s fourth-largest Black Hawk fleet.
Elbit Systems announced new orders from home and abroad for its top-of-the-line Hermes 900-series UAV system. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) placed a follow-on order on December 31 last year, having first bought the system in 2010. The IDF has also funded some new features, including quick reconfiguration of payloads, in a separate contract placed in January worth $35 million. The company also sold a Hermes 900 system comprising multiple UAVs and ground stations to “a customer in the Americas.“
With delivery of the first A400M airlifters nearing, Airbus Military has concluded an initial support deal with the French air force and a long-term training contract with the UK Royal Air Force (RAF). Meanwhile, Airbus Military is equipping its international training center in Seville with A400M computer-based trainers and a full-motion simulator.
The British Army is using what may be the world’s smallest UAV yet deployed on military operations. The Black Hornet “nanocopter” is eight inches long with a rotor diameter of about five inches and weighs less than two pounds. It can provide video and still imagery of difficult-to-reconnoitre targets such as walled compounds and even the interior of buildings. It was recently introduced in Afghanistan and demonstrated in public for the first time last week during a pre-deployment exercise on Salisbury Plain in the UK, for the next British Army task force to be sent there.