“Our competitors make the bottle, but we make the wine that is inside” is how Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems Division President Mike Keebaugh described the products and services that his firm provides to the U.S. defense market. “Despite the fact that we do not make any platforms–just what goes inside of them–we are the number- four aerospace firm in the U.S.”
“We’re getting bigger–but we’re still manageable,” said Tom Cassidy of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc (GA-ASI). The firm best known for the UAV that rewrote the rules of air warfare–the Predator–now employs more than 1,200 people at nine locations in southern California.
EDO Corp. (Stand ADT 117) is to provide a weapon carriage and release system for the U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Predator B unmanned aircraft. The initial design and development contract from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems is worth just $1.4 million, but EDO noted that it plans production of “well over” 100 Predator Bs.
In 1999, Operation Allied Force was a success, as Serbian forces were evicted from Kosovo. But then-USAF commander Gen. John Jumper was distinctly unhappy. He said those Serbian tanks that rolled out of hiding after the shooting stopped should have been spotted and destroyed by coalition airpower. Jumper also said he knew that the Serbian air defense system had never really been neutralized.
In November the UK Royal Air Force’s UAV Battlelab plans to integrate an unmanned air vehicle into a military exercise for the first time, as part of Project Sabrina. An earlier attempt in June was cancelled due to technical difficulties, but the Battlelab is optimistic that the UAV’s participation in the next Combined Qualified Weapons Instructor (CQWI) exercise will go ahead.
AGS Industries, a recently formed joint-venture company headquartered in Ottobrunn, Germany, is working on a response to a formal request for proposal for the design and development of NATO’s alliance ground surveillance (AGS) system.
Once the exclusive domain of the military and, with few exceptions, flying outside controlled airspace, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are now slowly nudging their noses under the civil tent. Already, USAF RQ-4 Global Hawks routinely fly across the U.S.
A new chapter in civil aviation history opened recently when the FAA issued the first airworthiness certificate for a commercial unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the General Atomics Altair. But the operating restrictions on the UAV should limit any interference with civil aircraft and ATC.
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