Tag Archives: Unmanned Aircraft Systems

This Story About The Islamic State Of Iraq ISIS, Or ISIL, Is Chilling And Worth Reading

This group will only be stopped by concerted, persistent military actions.

Posted by Jim Jenkins (ATIcourses.com) on 8/16/2014

 

I follow the newsletter of the Israel Homeland Security. They often have news about developments in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (also known as UAVs or UASs or drones).

I found their story about the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL or ISIS as chilling. The United States needs to take strong action before this group exports its terror worldwide.

Why ISIL Is Worse Than Other Terrorist Groups

http://i-hls.com/2014/08/isil-worse-terrorist-group/

This is a 86/2014 CNN story. The videos released by ISIS are appalling.

Yazidi men killed, women abducted

 

ISIS fighters swept into a Yazidi village in northern Iraq on Friday, killing at least 80 men and taking more than 100 women captive, officials told CNN. One Yazidi leader put the death toll much higher.

The report of the brutal attack on the village of Kojo comes a day after U.S. President Barack Obama — citing the success of targeted American airstrikes — declared an end to an ISIS siege that had trapped tens of thousands of Yazidis in mountains.

 

A Yazidi leader, Mirza Dinnayi, told British broadcaster Channel Four News that more than 350 men were killed and 1,000 women and children kidnapped during the raid. CNN cannot independently verify the death toll from the ISIS attack.

 

Fighters with ISIS attacked Kojo after surrounding it for days, a Kurdish regional government official and a Yazidi religious leader said. The women abducted from the village were being taken to the ISIS-controlled northern cities of Mosul and Tal Afar, the official said.

 

http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/16/world/meast/iraq-crisis/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

 

Look! Up in the sky! 10,000 drones in US by 2020

Applied Technology Institute (ATICourses) offers Unmanned Air Vehicle Design and Unmanned Aircraft System Fundamentals courses.  The information below could be of interest to our readers.

The idea of thousands of drones buzzing high above Main Street, USA may sound just a bit too odd for most people. But according to the FAA, the future is already here.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) predicts that swarms of unmanned aircraft systems could be taking to the skies of America in the next five years, with up to 10,000 active commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) patrolling from above by 2020.

Looking at aeronautical trends up to 2032, the FAA projects rapid growth of the UAS industry.

“In the United States alone, over 50 companies, universities, and government organizations are developing and producing some 155 unmanned aircraft designs,” according to the agency.

In February, the FAA said it had issued 1,428 permits to domestic drone operators since 2007, a number that far exceeds previous certifications. Meanwhile, some 327 permits are listed as active.

This startling rate of growth of a potentially pervasive technology has rights groups expressing concern over privacy issues and the potential for abuse of power.

Also, Even when controlled by skilled, well-intentioned operators, drones can pose a hazard—that’s what the FAA is concerned about. The safety record of military drones is not reassuring. Since 2001, according to the Air Force, its three main UAVs—the Predator, Global Hawk, and Reaper—have been involved in at least 120 “mishaps,” 76 of which destroyed the drone.

What is your opinion on the drones?  Please comment below.


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Drones begin descent on US agriculture

No one is laughing now. Once considered only a cut above remote-controlled toys, drones have proven their potency in Afghanistan and the Middle East, and manufacturers are eyeing U.S. agriculture as a tremendous market opportunity.

Chris Mailey, vice president of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), said, “Agriculture is gonna be the big market.”

Wired reports that Japan used drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), to spray 30 percent of its rice fields in 2010.

UAV technology is rapidly evolving and drones are already seeing limited use in the wine industry.

The Federal Aviation Administration, after getting swamped with thousands of drone applications from universities (with a heavy agricultural focus), law enforcement and private citizens, has a 2015 “deadline” to open up U.S. skies to civilian drones. The drone makers have sought congressional help to speed their entry into a domestic market that is worth billions.

Some put the drone market value at $5.9 billion and growing and is expected to double in the next decade.  Drones can cost millions of dollars for the most sophisticated varieties to as little as $300 for one that can be piloted from an iPhone.

Regardless of how good the drone technology is, the  profit potential for agriculture will depend on drone costs. Mailey believes farming and drones will be a fit.

What is your opinion?

Please comment below.

Read more here.

Interested in learning more about Unmanned Aircraft Systems, register to attend ATI’s Unmanned Aircraft System Fundamentals courses which will be presented on July 23-25, 2013 in Columbia, MD.


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X-47B Drone To Refuel In Flight!

The flight of Northrop Grumman’s latest “child prodigy”, X-47B unmanned drone, was first recorded in September.  You can view the video below.

It was announced on August 9, 2012 that by 2014 X47-B drone will be refueled in flight by Global Hawks which would serve as refueling tankers.

This is a huge accomplishment for two reasons.  One, is that will allow the X-47B to remain in flight well beyond 3,000 nautical miles — 10 times the ability of a traditional manned fighter.  Second, is that the entire process will be conducted with no pilot at all.

This will also mean that U.S. aircraft carries will be able to stay outside the range of reach of most ballistic missiles and submarines currently in existence.

The trials will be conducted aboard USS George Washington in 2013.

Here are a few details on X-47B drone.

 

You can learn more about UAS/UAV by attending one of ATI’s courses below.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Applications On Site Your Facility
Unmanned Aircraft System Fundamentals Nov 6-8, 2012 Columbia, MD
Unmanned Aircraft System Fundamentals Feb 26-28, 2013 Dayton, OH

 


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Warfare of the future: does it belong to the drones?

There is no doubt that the use of unmanned aircrafts or drones has seen a tremendous growth over the last few years. Since 2005 there has been a 1,200% increase in combat air patrols by UAVs. Al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki was killed by a drone only last month. But does this mean that the future belongs to UAS? What are the pros and cons of using unmanned aircraft vehicles vs manned?

What are the pros and cons of UAVs?


Pros include:

    1) significantly lower cost compared to manned vehicles (although they can get pretty expensive depending on their sophistication); this should allow the military to buy UAVs in much larger quantities than manned aircraft
    2) expendability, you can afford to send them into heavily defended areas and risk losing some without endangering a pilot
    3) more maneuverable than manned planes without the limitations of a human pilot
    4) can be built stealthier than a manned plane since one of the least stealthy parts of the aircraft (the cockpit) is unnecessary
    5) should be lighter, smaller, and easier to transport

Cons include:

    1) limitations of their programming, may not be able to compensate for the changing battlefield environment (such as being able to attack a new more desirable target that appeared after the aircraft was launched or changing course to avoid enemy defenses)
    2) because they are typically smaller than a manned plane, they cannot carry as large a payload (however, they do generally have a greater ratio of payload to total weight)
    3) along the same lines, they may not be able to carry as much fuel and therefore may have a shorter range
    4) typically tailored to specific kinds of missions and not as versatile as a modern multi-role fighter
    5) if contact is lost with a ground station, the vehicle may be lost

Overall, but the pilot in the cockpit is already an endangered species.

What is your opinion? Please comment below.

Read more here.


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Keylogger Virus Vs US Drones? Place your bets?

Yes, it has come to this! Apparently, a “keylogger” virus (that the nasty kind that records EVERY keystroke) has hit Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. Chreech is the main base of operations for US Drones. The virus kept coming back resisting every attempt to remove it from the drives. Eventually, the drives had to be wiped clean and rebuilt from scratch. That is a lot of man hours!

The virus, first detected nearly two weeks ago by the military’s Host-Based Security System, has not prevented pilots at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada from flying their missions overseas. Nor have there been any confirmed incidents of classified information being lost or sent to an outside source. But the virus has resisted multiple efforts to remove it from Creech’s computers, network security specialists say. And the infection underscores the ongoing security risks in what has become the U.S. military’s most important weapons system.
Drones have become America’s tool of choice in both its conventional and shadow wars, allowing U.S. forces to attack targets and spy on its foes without risking American lives. Since President Obama assumed office, a fleet of approximately 30 CIA-directed drones have hit targets in Pakistan more than 230 times; all told, these drones have killed more than 2,000 suspected militants and civilians, according to the Washington Post. More than 150 additional Predator and Reaper drones, under U.S. Air Force control, watch over the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. American military drones struck 92 times in Libya between mid-April and late August. And late last month, an American drone killed top terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki — part of an escalating unmanned air assault in the Horn of Africa and southern Arabian peninsula.

But despite their widespread use, the drone systems are known to have security flaws. And this recent virus definitely proves it!

What do you think?

You can read more about the virus here.

 


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Drone Fleets: The Countries That Possess Them And Potential For Robotic Wars

Despite some pretty disturbing news on UAV developments that are coming from China and a group of other countries U.S. remains the global leader in development, production and most importantly successful implementation of unmanned aircraft vehicles or drones.  However, there is a lot of speculation regarding the world’s expanding drone fleets and their potential for reducing the threshold for going to war.  Here is a list of known facts regarding this sensitive issue.

  1. USA is the main developer and manufacturer (however not exporter) of UAVs.  Near the top of the line, the Predator B, or MQ9-Reaper, manufactured by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, costs about $10.5 million. By comparison, a single F-22 fighter jet costs about $150 million.

The new smaller models are currently developed.

  • Raytheon Missile Systems is in process of designing a 13lb Small Tactical Munition to be carried by smaller unmanned aircraft like Shadow, TigerShark, Hunter and Viking. The device is around 24 inches long and 4 inches around.
  • Northrop Grumman has come out with the Viper Strike, a gliding,GPS-aided laser-guided variant of the Northrop Grumman Brilliant Anti-Tank (BAT) munition which originally had a combinationacoustic and IR seeker. The Viper Strike is 36 inches long and only 5.5 inches in diameter.
  • Lockheed Martin has releasedthe Scorpion (21.5 inches in length, and 4.25 inches in diameter),which is adaptable to multiple launch platforms, including manned or unmanned systems.
  1. China is constantly increasing it’s development and production as well as export of drones.  At the most recent Zhuhai air show they revealed WJ-600 drone and than two dozen other Chinese models. Little is known about their actual abilities but the speed at which they have been developed highlights how U.S. military successes with drones have changed strategic thinking worldwide and spurred a global rush for unmanned aircraft.
  2. Israel, the second-largest drone manufacturer after the United States, has flown armed models, but few details are available.
  3. India announced this year that it is developing ones that will fire missiles and fly at 30,000 feet.
  4. Russia has shown models of drones with weapons, but there is little evidence that they are operational.
  5. Pakistan has said it plans to obtain armed drones from China, which has already sold the nation ones for surveillance.
  6. Iran last summer unveiled a drone that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the “ambassador of death” but whose effectiveness is still unproven, according to military analysts.

China’s drone technology hasn’t reached the world’s first-class level, but the Chinese are catching up quickly. This is something we know for sure.

 


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Unmanned Aircraft Systems History: Predator

ATI courses is scheduled to present Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Applications course on June 7, 2011 in Dayton, OH and June 14, 2011 in Columbia, MD. We thought that the news below would be interesting to our blog readers.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. presented it’s last MQ-1B Predator to US Air Force March 3, 2011.

The General Atomics MQ-1 Predator is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) used primarily by the United States Air Force (USAF) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). It was created in the early 1990s for reconnaissance and forward observation roles. The Predator carries cameras and other sensors but has been modified and upgraded to carry and fire two AGM-114 Hellfire missiles or other munitions. The aircraft, in use since 1995, has seen combat over Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bosnia, Serbia, Iraq, and Yemen.

The USAF describes the Predator as a “Tier II” MALE UAS (medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV system). The UAS consists of four aircraft or “air vehicles” with sensors, a ground control station (GCS), and a primary satellite link communication suite. Powered by a Rotax engine and driven by a propeller, the air vehicle can fly up to 400 nautical miles (740 km) to a target, loiter overhead for 14 hours, then return to its base.

Following 2001, the RQ-1 Predator drone became the primary UAV used for offensive operations by the USAF and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Afghanistan and the Pakistani tribal areas. It has also been deployed in other locations. Because offensive uses of the Predator are classified, US military officials have reported an appreciation for the intelligence and reconnaissance-gathering abilities of UAVs but declined to discuss their offensive use in public.

Civilian applications have included border enforcement and scientific studies.

Read more about the circumstances that led to Leading Systems’ bankruptcy (which designed Predator’s predecessor’s Amber and GNAT 750), the key challenges overcome during the Predator’s breakthrough deployment to Bosnia in 1995 and what it takes to introduce an innovative product in the military aircraft industry. http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/the-dewline/2011/03/a-history-of-predator-from-the.html


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Persistent surveillance on a non-satellite budget is goal of U.S. military airship development

Tony White, Owner at Galaxy Blimps LLC and a member of my LinkedIn UAS group, is quoted extensively in this article.
I used to work for an airship startup called SkyStation International and they do have their advantages (and disadvantages to be sure).
They (and aerostats) also work well with UAS.


Going back as far as the American Civil War,lighter-than-air vehicles — airships, hot air balloons, and aerostats — have performed a variety of missions for the military.

During World War I large military airships dropped bombs and performed surveillance. For a brief period of time in the 1930s the U.S. explored using them as “flying aircraft carriers,” says Ron Browning business development lead for persistent surveillance at Lockheed Martin Mission Systems & Sensors in Akron, Ohio.

Today, U.S. forces deploy these floating platforms as eyes in the sky in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world to perform persistent surveillance, which means missions that last days, weeks, and even months up in the air.

“Persistent surveillance is around the clock — 24/7 — monitoring for an extended period of time, monitoring that is in stark contrast to that provided by aircraft, which have surveillance-time limitations dictated by fuel consumption/capacity,” says Maj. Robert Rugg, assistant product manager persistent surveillance devices for the U.S. Army Program Manager Robotic and Unmanned Systems office in Huntsville, Ala.

There are two main types of lighter-than-air vehicles used or in development for military operations — airships and aerostats, Browning says. “An aerostat is tethered while an airship is free flying,” he explains.

Two free-flying programs in development are the High Altitude Airship (HAA) being developed by Browning’s team at Lockheed Martin and the Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV), being designed by Northrop Grumman in Melbourne, Fla., for medium altitudes, Browning says. They are both airship platforms.

Aerostats

The most deployed vehicles at the moment are aerostats, which often are used with unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) or as a relatively inexpensive replacement to UASs to provide non-stop coverage of strategic areas.

“Aerostats are capable of continuous coverage over (typically) a fixed area in a wide range of operational weather conditions,” Rugg says. “UASs have a reduced operational environment and cannot continuously remain in the air for an extended period of time. However, the extended mobility provided by a UAS allows for a better view of a particular point of interest. In this way, each system is able to capitalize on its inherent advantage, while propping up the limiting aspects of the other — optimally, a force is able to utilize both systems as complementary to each other.

Aerostats and free-flying airships also are under consideration for border control instead of UASs, says Tony White, owner of Galaxy Blimps in Dallas — www.galaxyblimps.com. A UAS does not work as well on the border due to the coverage advantages that a host of aerostats airships would have, he continues.

While not easy at first to steer aerostats are more rugged than one might think. “We also can launch into heavy winds, while UASs can’t,” White says. Even in 70 knot winds in Afghanistan, aerostats were able to hold their position in the mooring station, White says. Aerostats are not as vulnerable to enemy attack as one might assume, Browning says. “We’re flying at the upper limit to be vulnerable to small arms fire,” he adds.

As Aerostats are low pressure systems so if a bullet hole or other hole pops up it “doesn’t go pop like a party balloon” Browning says. Instead the helium oozes out instead of gassing out, with degradation in lift altitude occurring over time instead of instantly, he explains. “It can fly when nothing else is flying,” Browning says.

“Despite the innovative nature of the systems, aerostats, in fact, have the great advantage of payload integration and flight qualification timelines that are much shorter than that of other aircraft,” Rugg continues. “Moreover, aerostats are typically more flexible in terms of the payloads they are able to carry. Weight limitations are the paramount issue with aerostats; some aircraft have lots of available size, weight, and power (SWAP).”

Persistent threat detection

One aerostat program currently seeing action in Iraq and Afghanistan is the Army’s Persistent Threat Detection System (PTDS), which has been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan during Operation New Dawn and Operation Enduring Freedom respectively, Browning says. PTDS is run by Rugg’s team in Huntsville produced by prime contractor Lockheed Martin.

PTDS is a tethered system, which flies like a kite with no propulsion, Browning says. The system, first deployed by the Army in 2004, is a 74,000-cubic-foot envelope full of helium and aerodynamically-shaped always pointed into the wind with fins and a tail system and is always buoyant, he adds. The maximum altitude is 5,000 feet above ground level, Browning says.

“PTDS has the unique sustained operations capability that exceeds 20 continuous days,” Rugg notes.

The system carries one or two electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) sensor payloads as well as other communications payloads, Rugg says. The EO sensors are mostly commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS), he adds. The EO/IR payload — the MX-20 Lite from L-3 Wescam in Toronto, Ontario — is attached on the underside of the aerostat, Browning says.

The MX-20 is a turret system that uses high-definition technology, says Paul Jennison, vice president of business development for L-3 Wescam. Included in the system is digital infrared capability, a color daylight camera, mono camera for night, and lasers for range finding and illumination — that illuminates targets for ground for troops who have night vision goggles, he continues.

The only real adjustment made for the aerostat application was adding a heat exchanger for thermal management in the static air, Jennison says. “Our system also has gone through the full spectrum of MIL-STD testing for humidity, salt, fog, and dust environments,” he adds.

The PTDS communication links have extended range for deployed troops, Browning says. The sensor can provide full-motion vision to the warfighter on the ground. “Imagine the value of that to combat teams,” Browning adds.

“Based on experience in theater, a second EO/IR sensor has been added. Furthermore, due to on site weather conditions, lightning detection equipment has been added, as well as the ability to broadcast video to mobile troops carrying OSRVT (One System Remote Video Terminal),” Rugg says. “Additionally, the mooring system has been modularized to allow transport to more remote forward operating bases.”

In addition to the aerostat, tether, and sensor payload, PTDS also has a mobile mooring platform, mission payloads, ground-control station, maintenance and officer shelter, power generators, and site-handling equipment, Browning says.

The ground-control station for an aerostat is typically on site, Rugg says. These ground-control stations are not that different from that of a UAS ground station, and “include such elements as operator consoles, workstations, tactical setup. The operating crew for a ground station is the same crew that launches and recovers the aerostat,” he adds.

Most of the electronics in the ground-control station is COTS, Rugg says. “There are two workstations for command and control of EO/IR sensors, networking equipment, UPS, aerostat flight control and monitoring computer and display as well as an Unattended Transient Acoustic MASINT Sensor (UTAMS) computer. UTAMS is an acoustic fire-detection sensor capable of locating point of impact/origin of rockets, mortars, and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).”

High-altitude airships

Lockheed Martin’s HAA — being developed for the Army — will act as a surveillance platform, telecommunications relay, or a weather observer, Browning says. Different electro-optic sensor payloads will be configured for different intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, he continues. Once it reaches its location it can survey a 600-mile diameter and millions of cubic miles of airspace.

In April 2008, the HAA program transferred from the Missile Defense Agency to the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, located at Huntsville, Ala. The command designing the HAA to align with the command’s mission

“The big thing to understand is that no lighter than airship has ever flown more than a few hours at more than 60,000 feet,” let alone six months, Browning says. Conventional airships have demonstrated days of endurance in the past.  Current blimps for sporting events can fly for 12 plus hours, depending on conditions, he adds.

The HAA will be about 500 feet long and 150 feet high, and be airborne for six months or more at a time, Browning says. It will be launched to an area of interest and park there, he continues. It will have a sensor communication link capability for deployed troops on field to get where they want to get to, Browning adds.

“We are currently developing and demonstrating the high altitude airship concept,” Browning says. The demonstration program is called the High Altitude Long Endurance-Demonstrator (HALE-D), he adds.

HALE-D will fly this summer air at an altitude of 60,000 ft and operating for a couple weeks using small, modest payload consistent with the demonstration, Browning says.

Free flying aircraft steer and navigate from one location to another so the all-electric HALE-D will need to operate at neutral buoyancy, Browning says. Goodyear blimps are always scary, taking off with heavy with fuel, which then burns, making the aircraft more light and buoyant.

One way to avoid that problem at take off is by having all-electric system that uses solar energy panels and stores the energy in batteries or rechargeable fuel cells for night flying. Propulsion units will lift the HALE-D aloft and guide its takeoff and landing during, Browning says.

The long-term operational goal — beyond the HALE-D is large with more than ton of payload onboard the HAA, Browning says. The large payload berth provides a lot of flexibility in payload design and capability, he continues. “It can really open the imagination of the sensor designer,” Browning adds.

The sensor technology is already available on a lot of aircraft, Browning says. However as with some existing airborne and spaceborne platforms the biggest challenge is reliability. Once the system is launched it won’t be brought down for several months, so you need sensors that last in tough environments.

The HALE-D sensors include a Thales MMAR modem, an L-3 Communications mini CDL, and an electro-optical system from ITT Geospatial Systems in Rochester, N.Y., Browning says.

ITT provided a long focal-length panchromatic electro-optical (EO) camera with GPS/Inertial Navigation System (INS) and pointing capability for the HALE-D program, says David A. Parkes, senior business development manager at ITT Geospatial Systems.

“An unmanned high-altitude platform does bring unique challenges in designing EO solutions,” Parkes says. “First, it’s very high flight altitudes bring very cold temperatures as low as -50 degrees Celsius and little air, which makes it challenging to both start up and maintaining proper electronics temperatures. It is more space-like than airborne. The ascent to these high altitudes also drives the need for all components to be able to outgas, so they are not damaged (e.g. optical lens). The second challenge is that current payload capacities for high altitude platforms are relatively small, which drives the need for very light weight and low power payloads.”

“The objectives and funding of this EO system were primarily for functional demonstration on this exciting high-altitude platform,” Parkes continues. “This drove a highly COTS-based solution. Future high-altitude EO systems will require designs that provide higher performance and high reliability that will leverage space systems designs without space system costs.”

Long-endurance airships

Northrop Grumman’s LEMV program completed its critical design review (CDR) six months after signing the agreement with the U.S. Army. Under that agreement the company will build three airships with 21-day persistent ISR capability, according to a Northrop Grumman release. Northrop Grumman officials declined to be interviewed for this story.

“The power of the LEMV system is that its persistent surveillance capability is built around Northrop Grumman’s open architecture design, which provides plug-and-play payload capability to the warfighter and room for mission growth,” says Alan Metzger, Northrop Grumman vice president and integrated program team leader of LEMV and airship programs in the company release. “The system rapidly accommodates next-generation sensors as emerging field requirements dictate and will provide increased operational utility to battlefield commanders. Today, our system readily integrates into the Army’s existing Universal Ground Control Station and Deployable Common Ground System command centers and ground troops in forward operating bases.

“While LEMV is longer than a football field and taller than a seven-story building, it utilizes approximately 3,500 gallons of fuel for the air vehicle to remain aloft for a 21-day period of service, that’s approximately $11,000 at commercial prices.

“We’ll have hull inflation in the spring and first flight of the airship test article by mid-to-late summer,” he says. Upon completion of the development ground and flight testing phase, we expect to transition to a government facility and conduct our final acceptance long endurance flight just before year’s end. In early 2012, LEMV will participate in an Army Joint Military Utility Assessment in an operational environment.”

Northrop Grumman’s industry team includes Hybrid Air Vehicles, Ltd. of the England, Warwick Mills, ILC Dover, AAI Corp., SAIC in McLean, Va., and a team of organizations from 18 U.S. states and three countries. In addition to leading the program, Northrop Grumman leads the system integration, and flight and ground control operations for the unmanned vehicle.

http://www.militaryaerospace.com/index/display/article-display/2737597448/articles/military-aerospace-electronics/exclusive-content/2011/3/persistent-surveillance.html


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AeroVironment Receives $46.2 Million Order for Raven UAS and Digital Retrofit Kits

MONROVIA, Calif., December 28, 2010 — AeroVironment, Inc. (AV) (NASDAQ:AVAV) announced today that it received an order valued at $46,226,984 under an existing contract with the U.S. Army. The order comprises 123 new digital Raven® small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and initial spares packages as well as 186 digital retrofit kits for the U.S. Marine Corps. The order also includes 339 digital retrofit kits for the U.S. Army. The Raven system and retrofit order represents the remainder of the funds appropriated for RQ-11B Raven system procurement in the 2010 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, which was signed into law in December 2009.

The orders were released under the existing U.S. Army joint small UAS program of record for AV’s Raven. This program has included contract additions from the Army, Marine Corps and Special Operations Command. The items and services provided under these awards on this multi-year contract are fully funded. Work is scheduled to be performed within a period of 12 months.

“Raven systems have proven their value and reliability to military services across the U.S. Department of Defense,” said Tom Herring, AV senior vice president and general manager, Unmanned Aircraft Systems. “These backpackable, hand-launched unmanned systems provide situational awareness directly to our warfighters, increasing mission effectiveness and safety. We remain focused on supporting our customers with reliable solutions and developing ever more capable solutions.”

The Raven unmanned aircraft is a 4.2-pound, backpackable, hand-launched sensor platform that provides day and night, real-time video imagery for “over the hill” and “around the corner” reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition in support of tactical units. U.S. armed forces use Raven systems extensively for missions such as base security, route reconnaissance, mission planning and force protection. Each Raven system typically consists of three aircraft, two ground control stations and spares.

In addition to the Raven system, AV’s small UAS include Puma™ and Wasp™, which are also hand-launched and controlled by AV’s hand-held ground control station. Each aircraft in AV’s family of small UAS is interoperable and tailored to address a variety of operational user needs. AV’s UAS logistics operation supports systems deployed worldwide to ensure a consistently high level of operational readiness. AV has delivered thousands of small unmanned aircraft to date. International purchasers of Raven systems include Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain and Norway.

The Raven unmanned aircraft is a 4.2-pound, backpackable, hand-launched sensor platform that provides day and night, real-time video imagery for “over the hill” and “around the corner” reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition in support of tactical units.

http://www.spacewar.com/reports/AeroVironment_Receives_Order_For_Raven_UAS_And_Digital_Retrofit_Kits_999.html