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US Navy Requests Industry Proposals for Carrier-Operable Drones

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Enhanced Payload Supports Real-Time Targeting for Geo-Targeted Weapons

October 31, 2013 by · Comment
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Enhanced Payload Supports Real-Time Targeting for Geo-Targeted Weapons

October 31, 2013 by · Comment
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Improved Gray Eagle Flies Over 45 Hours Non-Stop

October 23, 2013 by · Comment
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US Navy Awards UCLASS Studies Amid Debate on Performance

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Improving the Army’s Gray Eagle (MQ-1C)

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GA-ASI Touts Exportable Version of MQ-9

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France Opts for U.S. Reapers

reaper_gsFrance has decided to buy two MQ-9 Reaper medium-altitude long endurance (MALE) drones from the USA, to extend the strategic reconnaissance capability of the French Air Force after the current Harfang drones end their planned mission in 2014. The two...

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Heron, Reaper and Hermes 900 Compete for Canada’s Arctic mission

Hermes 900 Maritime Equipped with Maritime Patrol Radar (MPR) and EO & IR Payloads. Photo: Elbit SystemsThe Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron unmanned air system (UAS), General Atomics Reaper and Elbit Systems' Hermes 900 are among three platforms eyed for a Canadian tender to supply an advanced system for operation in the Arctic.

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US Navy to Review Four Designs for UCLASS; Plans Fielding Within 3-6 Years

In December 2012 Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy conducted deck handling trials of the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System aboard the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75). Trials were designed to demonstrate the aircraft's ability to integrate smoothly with carrier operations. Photo: Northrop GrummanThe Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) intends to issue four firm-fixed-price contracts for Preliminary Design Reviews (PDR) for the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) Air Vehicle.

Department of Defense Awards Several UAV Related Contracts

For the last month the United States’ Department of Defense has been awarding a variety of contracts to support development, testing and operations of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) systems. These have played a major role in the current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to provide Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) missions as well as attacking enemy personnel and assets.

The U.S. Air Force also operates the long range, high endurance Global Hawk from Northrop Grumman (NOC) that provides strategic collection capability. The system is being developed as well for the U.S. Navy and Australia for their Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) mission.

The U.S. continues to invest in these systems through a variety of contracts including a recent development effort to Boeing (BA) for a solar powered, high altitude, long endurance system. The $89 million contract to the company and its partner QinetiQ is part of the Defense Advanced Research Products Agency (DARPA) Vulture program. The goal of this effort is to build a system that could remain airborne for up to five years providing reconnaissance and communication relay capability. In a way to fly an airplane rather then a satellite to provide some capability at a lower cost.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) won a Navy contract to support test and design efforts for future UAV systems. The school along with its partners operates a test facility that would provide harsh environments for these efforts. The contract could be worth up to $47 million if all options are exercised. The vehicle will allow the Navy to task the school to quickly react to requirements or efforts.

In another contract that supports existing systems the U.S. Air Force gave General Atomics a contract for six more MQ-9 Reaper systems. General Atomics makes the heavily used Predator and Reaper systems. The Predator was originally designed for ISR but has been armed with Hellfire missiles and provides precision strike for the Air Force and C.I.A. The Reaper is a bigger, more capable evolution of the Predator. This contract has a value of over $38 million.

These contracts indicate the U.S. commitment to unmanned programs. The different services will continue to develop and increase the capability of them as well as use their existing systems. The UAV market will see growth in the near future even as the defense budget declines and more traditional weapons see less investment. Right now there are limitations on these type of aircraft but as they are developed further these will be reduced. They do offer advantages over manned aviation assets chiefly because they do not put any crew at risk. They also may be smaller and more stealthy and have high endurance. They also have the possibility of offering more bang for the buck.

The UAV market continues to be one where small companies as well as large will focus on developing systems, sensors and the data lins necessary to control them.

Photo from Rob Shenk flickr photostream.

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UAV’s Are Like Other Aircraft — General Atomics To Support Fielded Systems

When a company makes an aircraft for the U.S. military they not only get contracts to build them; they also get contracts to provide engineering support, modifications and maintenance. The U.S. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) fleet is just like their manned aircraft in this manner. It was announced yesterday that General Atomics received a contract to provide technical support to the Predator and Reaper UAV systems in use by the U.S. Air Force. Genral Atomics of course manufactures these weapons.

The two systems which are both armed have seen heavy use in Afghanistan and Iraq providing Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) as well as precision strike. These type of contracts continue to provide a steady source of revenue for companies that make systems for the military. Eventually though they can go to any company and the bidding may become quite intense.

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Busy day for contract awards

A great deal of contracts were announced today by DoD. See Defenselink.mil press release for more here. Highlights include a $50 M contract to General Atomics for the Air Force to buy 24 Predators and a $119 M contract to Raytheon for South Korean FMS of PATRIOT PAC-3.

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