May 10, 2011Uas News Digest Northrop Grumman Unveils Fir ebi rd Photo: Courtesy Northrop Grumman
UAS News DigestDirectorCOL Grant Webb, USACreative DirectorMs. Sue BoozerThe UAS News Digest is a weeklycompilation of published items andcommentary concerning defenserelated Unmanned Aircraft Systems(UAS) issues. The UAS NewsDigest is an internal management EXSUM: This week’s UAS News Digest features several new aircraft.tool intended to serve the Northrop Grumman announced its new optionally piloted Firebirdinformational needs of DoD officials aircraft. Turkish Aerospace Industries showcased their new rotaryin the continuing assessment ofdefense policies, programs and aircraft at this year’s International Defense Industry Fair in Turkey.actions. Further reproduction orredistribution for private use or gainis subject to original copyrightrestrictions. ContentsThe UAS News Digest is compiled 5 News Breaksby the Joint Unmanned SystemsCenter of Excellence (JUAS COE)at Creech AFB, Nevada. 8 Miniature Liquid Level Sensors Improve Mission Optimization for UAVsSubscriptionsSubscriber requests and commentsmay be sent to:email@example.comWebsiteThe UAS News Digest is alsoavailable on the USJFCOM Portal.Site access requires a user account.Please contact Sue Boozer forUSJFCOM sponsorship information.https://us.jfcom.mil/sites/juas/Pages/Default.aspx
Web Articles Alenia Aeronautica Plans to Go It Alone With MALE UAV Project (Flightglobal) Alenia Aeronautica is looking for a partner to develop a medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned air system to rival the Franco-British venture announced earlier this year by BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation. Photo Gallery: Stealth Drone’s First Flight (Wired Magazine – Danger Room) Boeing announced Tuesday that its stealthy killer drone the “Phantom Ray” had flown for the first time. The flight, from Edwards Air Force Base, California, lasted just 17 minutes. Improved AirMule Resumes Flight Testing (Flightglobal) The prototype of Urban Aeronautics AirMule ducted-fan unmanned air vehicle has resumed flight testing after the company completed a four-month systems and structural upgrade. According to the Israeli company, the AirMule is now flying with an expanded suite of sensors and a new, energy-absorbing wheeled landing gear. China Targets UAS as Growth Sector (Aviation Week) The display of dozens of unmanned-aircraft models at last November’s Zhuhai air show made it clear that China, industrially and militarily, is moving rapidly to catch up—and perhaps ultimately overtake—the West in this burgeoning sector of aerospace. A Drone for the Air Force is What They Are Aiming For (Gulf News) Abu Dhabi: Designing an unmanned aircraft for the UAE Air Force is topmost on the minds of five Emirati students who will travel to the US later this year for an international convention on unmanned aircraft. The five-member team won an all-expense-paid trip to the US to participate in the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) convention by winning a competition to design, build, and pilot a remote- controlled unmanned aircraft. Arlington Police to Keep Aerial Drone for Surveillance (KRISTV - NBC) An unmanned drone may soon help Arlington, Texas police provide a watchful eye over the city. Grant money from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security brought the citys first unmanned drone for the Super Bowl, but Arlington hopes to put it to use full time. Predator Drone Program Seen as Valuable Weapon Against Terror (The Press-Enterprise) Inland Rep. Jerry Lewis could never have given the foundering Predator program the $400 million boost it needed 15 years ago under the nations current policy against earmarks, the oft-criticized spending directives that congressional members, until recently, slipped into federal spending bills. "While earmarks are off board at this moment, they are not the center of original sin," said Lewis, R-Redlands. "Predator has played a major role in the challenges weve faced in the (Middle East) region." IDEF 2011: New Turkish Rotary UAV Unveiled (Shephard) Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) used the IDEF 2011 exhibition in Istanbul to unveil a new rotary UAV aimed at army and navy requirements. The project, which was launched in 2010, initially saw the company take a manned Mosquito XE ultralight helicopter and convert it for autonomous use.
Web Articles Experts Warn the Free Ride for UAVs is Ending as Spending Constraints Loom (Foreign Policy) The most important aspect of the comfortable environment for UAVs has been financial, experts said at the Institute of International Strategic Studies conference, "The Future of Unmanned Air Power." Air Force Col. Dean Bushey warned that because of the weak economy and looming defense budget cuts, the "fiscally permissive" environment will no longer exist and said that "we can no longer just say buy more and send it to theater; we now have to be efficient and effective in our use." Exclusive: Northrop Unveils Firebird MALE Aircraft (Aviation Week) Northrop Grumman will unveil its Firebird aircraft during Empire Challenge. Despite mature work in the unmanned rotorcraft, airship and high-altitude UAS markets, company officials have remained unsatisfied at the dominance of General Atomics in the medium-altitude, long-endurance UAS market with their Predator, Reaper and Gray Eagle designs. Follow-Up: Will Firebird Hit the Market Suite Spot? (Aviation Week) The biggest advantage of the new design could be easier integration of payloads. Firebird has a payload architecture designed for "plug and play", with a payload bay located on the center of gravity, making it less sensitive to payload mass. Combined with the piloted option (avoiding airspace restrictions and cumbersome regulations) this could make a huge difference to the money and time required to get new sensors off the test bench and into combat. Video: Famed Spaceship-Maker Gives Spy Drones a Try (Wired Magazine – Danger Room) The legendary aerospace designers at Scaled Composites are unveiling a new spy plane that can snoop on the unsuspecting four different ways, and it doesn’t need a human in the cockpit to fly. Scaled Composites is best-known for its private spacecraft, but Scaled is also a division of the giant defense contractor Northrop Grumman. DRC’s Twin Wins Prop Up Air Force Unmanned Aircraft Program (Washington Technology) Dynamics Research Corp. will continue to provide engineering and technology services to the Air Force, having won a pair of two-year delivery orders worth a combined $24.5 million. These contracts allow DRC to continue its efforts supporting mission-critical services in conjunction with the Air Force’s Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Predator/Reaper program, according to a May 9 company announcement. China Succeeds Its Largest Unmanned Helicopter’s Debut (International Business Times) An unmanned helicopter, model number "V750" , the largest in China so far, on Saturday successfully completed its debut in Weifang, a city in east Chinas Shandong Province, according to Xinhua. The V750 unmanned helicopter is the first medium-sized unmanned helicopter in China. IDEF 2011: TAI Eyes Anka Production Contract (Shephard) Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) is confident of securing a production contract for its Anka MALE UAV from the Turkish Air Force by the end of the year. TAI has developed three prototypes of the Anka UAV under an initial development contract.
NEWS BREAKS secretary and Air Force chief of staff, who will then Officials Announce Eglin as MQ-1 select one location as a preferred alternative. Squadron Candidate Base Based on the results of these efforts, officials expect to announce the preferred alternative in summer 2011. Air Force officials announced May 3 the Eglin May 4, 2011 | US Air ForceAir Force Base complex in Florida as a candidatefor an Air Force Reserve Command MQ-1 Remote Brüel & Kjaer Surface MicrophonesSplit-Operations squadron. Selected for nEUROn "The selection of this candidate is the result ofa deliberate, measured and transparent process,"said Kathleen Ferguson, the deputy assistant Brüel & Kjær has been selected by Dassaultsecretary for installations. "The Air Force looks Aviation to provide high-pressure surfaceforward to working with the communities microphones for the development of the nEUROnsurrounding this location to ensure all concerns experimental Unmanned Combat Air Vehicleare addressed." (UCAV). This base complex is the candidate to accept a Led by Frances Dassault Aviation, thesingle MQ-1 RSO squadron consisting of 140 nEUROn is an experimental UCAV demonstratorpersonnel and associated equipment. There are being developed with the international cooperationno remotely-piloted aircraft associated with this of six European countries. Dassault chose Brüel &action, only ground control systems. Kjær to supply high-pressure versions of their The candidate location was selected using surface microphones to conduct flight testbasing criteria announced by Air Force officials measurements.Nov. 21, 2010. Surface microphones provide information The primary mission of an MQ-1 RSO about the true pressure load on componentssquadron is to support the MQ-1 Predator aircraft during flight. The microphones are typically flush-operations that conduct close air support, air mounted on flat and curved surfaces, for exampleinterdiction, and intelligence, surveillance and on aircraft fuselages. They must be capable ofreconnaissance. Remote split-operations consist withstanding both high pressures and the harshof launching an RPA via line-of-sight operations environments experienced during in-flightfrom one location, and controlling the aircraft measurements. Importantly, the microphones mustremotely from a mission control element that is be able to perform in the presence of high velocityoperated at another location beyond line-of-site. airflow, whilst producing minimal wind-generated Air Force Reserve Command officials will noise.begin conducting detailed on-the-ground, May 4, 2011 | Shephardevaluations of the candidate complex covering arange of operational and facility issues. The resultsof the surveys will be briefed to the Air Force
NEWS BREAKS Kamikaze UAV Breaks the Bank IDEF 2011: Turkish Armed Forces to Receive New TUAV Last year, the U.S. Army bought tenSwitchblade UAVs for testing and evaluation. The Turkish company Vestal Defence has beguntests were successful, and now the army wants to development of the upgraded version of its Karayelbuy and deploy them. The only problem is tight tactical UAV (TUAV), under a contract to deliverbudgets and the cost of this one-use system. six airframes to the Turkish armed forces by mid-Depending on the number ordered, each 2013.Switchblade round (the UAV in its storage/launch Publicly displaying the Karayel prototype forcontainer) will still cost over $10,000. If it becomes the first time at the IDEF 2011 exhibition inpopular with the troops, demand for more would Istanbul on 10 May, the company is currentlyhave to be filled, and that could put a dent in the working on the upgraded ‘Version II’ of the aircraft,shrinking army budget. which will have an increased maximum take-off The Switchblade is a one kilogram (2.2 pound) weight of 500kg and be capable of carrying a 70kgexpendable (used only once) UAV that can be payload.equipped with explosives. The Switchblade is Vestal spokesman Gokhan Koyuncu said thelaunched from its shipping and storage tube, at company had been developing the UAV sincewhich point wings flip out, a battery powered 2005 and completed a series of flightpropeller starts spinning and a vidcam begins demonstrations for the Turkish armed forces at thebroadcasting images to the controller. end of 2009. The Switchblade is operated using the same However, after the demonstrations, the armygear the larger (two kg) Raven UAV employs. The determined it needed a slightly bigger, moreSwitchblade can be launched from the 70mm capable aircraft and placed an order instead for sixrocket tubes used on army helicopters. Moving at of the upgraded aircraft, with the delivery scheduleup to a kilometer a minute, the Switchblade can commencing in March 2011 and running for twostay in the air for 20-40 minutes (depending on years.whether or not it is armed with explosives.) The The slightly longer Version II features anarmed version can be flown to a target and increase in wing span to 11.5m and a moredetonated, having about the same explosive effect powerful 95hp engine, which raises the enduranceas a hand grenade. Thus the Switchblade could be to 20 hours and operational altitude to 22,500 feet.useful for ground troops, to get at an enemy taking Vestal has developed the airframe,cover in a hard to see location. Switchblade avionics/autopilot and ground control station but iscompleted its development tests two years ago. looking to various third parties for the electro-opticTechnically a guided missile, the use of payload.Switchblade as a reconnaissance tool encouraged Koyuncu said the aircraft was capable of fullydevelopers to refer to it as a UAV. autonomous, conventional take-off and landing, May 6, 2011 | Strategy Page but could also be employed with a launcher and recovery system in unprepared areas.
NEWS BREAKS The company also used IDEF to publicly unveilits Efe mini UAV, which has also beendemonstrated to the Turkish Army. With anendurance of 1.5 hours and a cruise speed of 27knots, the 2.6m x 1.6m airframe can carry apayload of 600g. Koyuncu said the UAV had been designed forquick assembly and could be broken down in lessthan a minute. Negotiations with the Turkish Armyfor a production contract are ongoing. May 10, 2011 | Shephard
by the new miniature level sensors can be used to increase the performance and reliability ofMiniature Liquid unmanned systems, offering engineers greater scope for tactical decisions based on reliableLevel Sensors sensor data. The Gill Sensors range of miniature fuel, oilImprove Mission and coolant level sensors incorporate micro- electronics making them especially suited toOptimization for smaller unmanned systems applications. Utilizing advanced solid-state capacitive technology, theU A Vs integrated electronics provide a fully configurable analogue output accurate to 0.25% of the tank depth. A data logger uses the output from the Mission optimization is a key factor for both sensor and the tank profile mapping to convertmilitary and commercial users of Unmanned Aerial level into volume. Information on the actual volumeVehicles (UAV). This could mean maximizing of fuel available is then sent to the operator as partpayload, flying further or flying longer. A critical of the flight communications.factor in mission optimization is fuel management. Each sensor is custom-designed to suit theOperators need precise fuel level information specific requirements of the application to ensureotherwise missions may have to be completed optimum performance without the need toearlier than necessary. With some UAVs costing extensively modify existing system components.in excess of $35M, losing a vehicle due to lack of This makes the sensors equally suited to vehiclefuel is not a desirable outcome. upgrades or for specification on new While most manufacturers have incorporated developments.the latest satellite communications and computer Keeping the overall vehicle weight to aaided navigation systems into their UAVs, fuel minimum is important and the sensors typicallymanagement is one area that has not always kept feature titanium and carbon-fibre components topace with technology. For example, some UAVs ensure that the mass of the sensor has minimaluse commercially available automotive sensors to impact on the vehicle operation. Sensor length canmanage fuel. These sensors were not designed for be as little as 20mm, allowing for precisionchallenging UAV applications and as a result, the monitoring of small reservoirs.data they provide is often inaccurate and Environmentally protected to IP68, Gillsunreliable, resulting in critical missions being miniature sensors are suitable for full-submersionunnecessarily compromised. in aviation-grade fuel, oil or coolant and are rated Borrowing from the technology used in for operation from -40ºC to +125ºC. Sensors canFormula 1 racing cars, Gill Sensors has developed be ordered with an integral connector or flyinga range of highly accurate and reliable sensors leads, and will meet the most stringent militarythat provide the vehicle operator with precise EMC requirements.information about fuel availability. Data provided May 4, 2011 | Shephard Article courtesy of Shephard