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Flight Series Completes Mantis' Technical Evaluation Phase

BAE Systems has successfully flown the Mantis, largest fully autonomous unmanned aircraft ever to be built in the UK. The first flight took place October 21, 2009 in Woomera, South Australia. During subsequent flights, the twin-engine Mantis successfully completed a series of trials demonstrating the capability of the system and the potential of large unmanned systems to support future UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) operational needs. The trials have concluded the 19 month technology demonstration program, funded jointly by UK MOD and UK Industry. (read more...)


X-47B Remains on Schedule for Sea Trials despite First Flight Delay

The first flight of the U.S. Navy’s X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator has been postponed by several months and will take place at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. in the second quarter of next year (2010). Originally, it was scheduled for late 2009. Naval Air Systems Command UCAS-D program office (PMA-268) and the aircraft designer Northrop Grumman continue pre-flight testing of the aircraft to ensure the system’s readiness to fly early next year. (read more...)

ScanEagle to get MAD Hunting for Submarines

Boeing is working on modifying the Compresses Carriage ScanEagle UAV into an aerial sensor capable of tracking submarines. Working under a U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) contract, Boeing is converting the Scan Eagle's diesel engine to operate in 'magnetically silent' mode, enabling the drone to employ magnetic anomaly detection systems tracking submarines underwater. (read more...)

French, German Troops Experiment Advanced Warfighting Techniques Using Robotics

The recent ARTIST field experiment held by the French and German forces in Germany evaluated advanced warfighting concepts as part of the Air-land operational digitalization study (Bulle Opérationnelle Aéroterrestre - BOA). The exercise involved unmanned ground vehicles from both countries, controlled from a mobile ' Robot Spotter' robotic control systems, provided by the French company Robosoft. The system enables the control of unmanned ground vehicles from within the armored vehicles. (read more...)

ChemBots Program Demonstrates a Locomotion Mechanism for a Soft, Morphing Robot

During military operations it can be important to gain covert access to denied or hostile space. Unmanned platforms such as mechanical robots are of limited effectiveness if the only available points of entry are small openings. Under the Chemical Robots (ChemBots) Program, DARPA is creating a new class of soft, flexible, mesoscale mobile objects that can identify and maneuver through openings smaller than their dimensions and perform various tasks. Such systems could employ JSEL - Jamming Skin Enabled Locomotion, a pioneering technology that, when fully developed, could enable such robot to morph, and move through narrow cracks and small holes in walls. This video explains how the jamming skin concept works, and demonstrates the first working example of such mechanism.

U.S. Air Force Awards $303 million for Block 30, 40 Global Hawks

The U.S. Air Force has Awards Northrop Grumman $302.9 Million contract for the production of five Global Hawk unmanned aircraft systems. The contract covers the initial production of Block-30 and -40 aircraft, and associated sensors, to be delivered next year. (read more...)

Luftwaffe: Gearing for an Unmanned Future

The German Air Force (Luftwaffe) has made two important steps toward the establishment of its future unmanned aerial systems (UAS) capability. Early last month the first RQ-4B configured for the Euro Hawk rolled out of Northrop Grumman's assembly line at Palmdale. Later in October, the German ministry of defense (BwB) signed the leasing contract for three IAI Heron I UAVs, paving the way for their introduction into service by March next year. These drones will be operated in Afghanistan, supporting the German detachment currently flying Tornado tactical fighters.

Turkey, Israel in Disagreement over UAV Contract

Turkey has given the Israeli contractors IAI and Elbit Systems 50 days to fulfil a long-delayed deal for the delivery of 10 Heron unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) destined for the Turkish army. Despite the long delay, the Turkish military is still hopeful that deliveries could commence early in 2010. (read more...)

MQ-8B Complete First LRIP Deliveries for the U.S. Navy

Northrop Grumman Corporation delivered the first three production MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicle (VTUAV) produced for the U.S. Navy. The delivery completes the program's first year of Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) program. Two of the three vehicles were deployed aboard the USS McInerney for use on a scheduled operational deployment to complete a Fire Scout Military Utility Assessment (MUA). Prior to the current deployment, Fire Scouts have been aboard the USS McInerney four times since December 2008, completing 110 ship takeoffs and landings and 45 landings with the harpoon grid, accumulating over 47 hours of flight time.

Northrop Grumman Develops a STANAG 4586 Compatible Ground Control Station for UAVs

MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Unmanned Aircraft System (VUAS) recently completed a flight under the command and control of a new company-developed STANAG 4586 compatible ground control station (GCS). The first series of tests took place at the Yuma Proving Ground in AZ. (read more...)

ScanEagle Demonstrated in Canada

Boeing's subsidiary Insitu Inc. has recently demonstrated its ScanEagle unmanned aircraft system (UAS) flying in support of Canadian Naval vessel HMCS GLACE BAY (MM 701). The demonstration was conducted by the Canadian Forces Maritime Warfare Centre (CFMWC), and included an in-flight handoff of the UAV by Canadian Navy personnel aboard HMCS GLACE BAY to a land-based ground control station (GCS) operated by Canadian Army personnel located at the Halifax Naval Base. The UAV was tasked with location and tracking of pre-positioned vessels, identifying suspicious activity ashore, and detecting objects and divers in the water.

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