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25 juillet 2012 3 25 /07 /juillet /2012 12:54
Défense : la France prête à s'offrir le drone anglo-israélien Watchkeeper

25/07/2012 Michel Cabirol – LaTribune.fr

 

Français et Britanniques ont franchi un nouveau pas dans la coopération en matière de drones. L'armée de Terre devrait s'équiper du drone tactique britannique Watchkeeper. Ils vont préparer en outre la succession des Rafale et Eurofighter en lançant la première phase du programme de démonstration du système de combat aérien futur.

 

Cela reste timide... mais la France a quand même fait un pas dans sa stratégie d'acquisition et industrielle en matière de drones. Le ministre de la Défense, Jean-Yves Le Drian, et son homologue britannique, Philip Hammond, ont franchi "un nouveau pas dans la coopération franco-britannique en matière de drones", selon le communiqué du ministère de la Défense français. Ainsi, les deux pays ont signé deux accords-cadres (MoU). Le premier lance "la première phase du programme de démonstration du système de combat aérien futur (SCAF)", qui prendra le relais des Rafale et Eurofighter à l'horizon 2030. Soit un contrat d'études de 13 millions d'euros attribué à BAE Systems et à Dassault Aviation

 

Watchkeeper bientôt dans l'armée de terre

 

Le second concerne la coopération sur le drone tactique anglo-israélien Watchkeeper (à partir d'une plateforme israélienne Hermes 450), en coopération entre Elbit et Thales UK, pour remplacer les Sperwer à bout de souffle. L'évaluation de ce système sur une période d'un an (2013) a été confiée aux soins de l'armée de terre française. "En parallèle, les ministres ont évoqué la possibilité d'une coopération militaire entre les unités spécialisées des deux armées qui emploient les mêmes systèmes", a par ailleurs précisé le communiqué.

 

Paris prend son temps pour le MALE

 

En revanche, Paris souhaite prendre son temps pour l'acquisition d'un drone MALE (Moyenne altitude et de longue endurance). "Le temps ne presse pas tant la France a pris du retard dans ce domaine", explique-t-on dans l'entourage du ministre. D'autant qu'il n'y a pas encore de rupture capacitaire, estime-t-on. La rénovation des drones Harfang permettrait de faire la soudure avec une solution intérimaire. C'est là où la décision n'est pas facile à expliquer. Car Paris s'achemine bien vers l'acquisition du drone américain Predator de General Atomics, dont la plate-forme serait ensuite francisée par un industriel tricolore. Ce qui devrait rajouter un coût à un achat simple et sur étagère.

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15 avril 2012 7 15 /04 /avril /2012 07:10

shadow-tuas-uav-runway-lg.jpg

 

Apr 15, 2012 Spacewar.com

 

Hunt Valley MD - AAI Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) has announced a strategic alliance that combines AAI's expertise as a UAS systems integrator with KOR's signals intelligence (SIGINT) equipment.

 

The organizations intend to integrate KOR's SIGINT products, focused on expeditionary tactical unmanned aircraft such as AAI's renowned Shadow Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System, as a new addition to AAI's family of Multi-Mission Payloads (MMP). Each modular MMP "pod" can be attached quickly to the Shadow aircraft to equip it for the mission at hand.

 

"This technology provides warfighters actionable, time-sensitive data on the capabilities and activities of their adversaries," said Senior Vice President and General Manager Steven Reid of AAI Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

 

"Equipping our Shadow aircraft - a trusted and omnipresent asset for so many U.S. and allied customers - for this collection mission can help deliver intelligence fast, and to a broader array of deployed forces and formations."

 

"During the process of evaluating initial alliance partners, KOR recognized that AAI Unmanned Aircraft Systems was a market leader in UAS design, development, production and support, and that the Shadow Tactical UAS is ideally suited for KOR's market-leading SIGINT precision location capability," said KOR Electronics President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Carnino.

 

"KOR's precision location capability, coupled with the Shadow aircraft's existing electro-optic/infrared sensor, will significantly improve the find, fix and finish timeline and enhance the utility of the Shadow system's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance role."

 

KOR Electronics, a subsidiary of Mercury Computer Systems, is a leading supplier of subsystem-level solutions for defense prime contractors supporting the worldwide Defense and Intelligence communities. KOR is headquartered in Cypress, California with principal locations in Aurora, Colorado, and Rome, New York.

 

Mercury Computer Systems is a best-of-breed provider of open, commercially developed, application-ready, multi-INT subsystems for defense prime contractors. With over 30 years of experience in embedded computing, superior domain expertise in radar, EW, EO/IR, C4I and sonar applications, and more than 300 successful program deployments including Aegis, Global Hawk and Predator, Mercury's Services and Systems Integration (SSI) team leads the industry in partnering with customers to design and integrate system-level solutions that minimize program risk, maximize application portability and accelerate customers' time to market.

 

AAI Unmanned Aircraft Systems has designed, manufactured and fielded combat-proven unmanned aircraft systems for more than 25 years. AAI's multi-mission capable unmanned aircraft and interoperable command and control technologies provide critical situational awareness and actionable intelligence for users worldwide. Its Australia-based strategic business, Aerosonde Pty Ltd, is a manufacturer of small unmanned aircraft systems. AAI Unmanned Aircraft Systems is an operating unit of Textron Systems.

 

Textron Systems has been providing innovative solutions to the defense, homeland security and aerospace communities for more than 50 years. Headquartered in Wilmington, Mass., the company is known for its unmanned aircraft systems, advanced marine craft, armored vehicles, intelligent battlefield and surveillance systems, intelligence software solutions, precision smart weapons, piston engines, test and training systems, and total life cycle sustainment and operational services. Textron Systems includes AAI Logistics and Technical Services, AAI Test and Training, AAI Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Advanced Systems, Aerosonde, ESL Defence, Lycoming Engines, Medical Numerics, MillenWorks, Overwatch, Textron Defense Systems and Textron Marine and Land Systems.

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22 février 2012 3 22 /02 /février /2012 12:50
British Army set for operational trials with Watchkeeper UAS

Watchkeeper UAS Thales UK

 

Feb 2012 By Craig Hoyle – Flight Global

 

Thales UK has confirmed it has provided France's DGA procurement agency and army with technical information about the Watchkeeper tactical unmanned air system, as its British Army launch customer prepares to begin operational field trials with the type.

 

French interest in the Watchkeeper system was revealed during a bilateral summit in Paris on 16 February, with a formal evaluation to start during 2012 and conclude next year.

 

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said co-operation between the nations would offer advantages in technical, support and operational terms, and during the development of doctrine and concepts for the equipment's use.

 

"The French army has similar requirements to the British Army and is interested in replacing its SDTI [Sagem Sperwer] system with a high-performance, certified and financially attractive solution," said Thales. It cited the "considerable pedigree" of the Watchkeeper air vehicle (above), which builds on the Elbit Systems Hermes 450 design, which has now amassed more than 60,000 flight hours in support of the UK armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

Operational field trials of the Watchkeeper system involving the Royal Artillery's 32 Regiment are "due to start at ParcAberporth shortly", Thales said, adding that more than 100 flights of the aircraft have now been undertaken in the UK. The army assessment had been due to start last October, but was delayed due to "technical issues encountered during software integration and flight trials".

 

The UTacS joint venture company formed by Thales and Elbit began delivering Watchkeeper equipment in late 2011, ahead of the type's phased introduction to use in Afghanistan.

 

"Details of when Watchkeeper will deploy to Afghanistan are operationally sensitive, but the British Army is planning a progressive roll-out in theatre during 2012," the Ministry of Defence said.

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13 février 2012 1 13 /02 /février /2012 12:50
SGA 2012: NG considers reducing Global Hawk running costs

13 February 2012 - by Andrew White – Shepard Group

 

Northrop Grumman is studying ‘more efficient ways’ of operating the RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 UAS in order to reduce costs and force the US Department of Defense (DoD) into a dramatic U-turn, Shephard has been informed.

 

According to senior executives within the company, Northrop Grumman is looking at the ramifications and impact of the DoD’s decision on 26 January to cap the programme in favour of Lockheed Martin’s U-2 aircraft- a platform which has been in operation since 1956. Speaking to Shephard, Northrop Grumman executives said meetings were ongoing with USAF and OSD officials.

 

Further details of the cuts were expected to be unveiled in budget proposals submitted to Congress on 13 February. One company source said: ‘The air force has expressed concern at the loss of capability in theatres and we are having meetings with the air force and OSD and discussing what it would mean if [cuts were] implemented. This is a proposal and not a final decision.’

 

Claiming that the system was performing ‘very well’ overseas on operations, sources said the decision was budgetary and not value-driven. ‘[Global Hawk Block 30] programme of record was set up to replace the U-2 with all the same support mechanisms. For example, about a third of the U-2 fleet would be deployed while the remainder stay home for training and mission preparation. ‘Global Hawk doesn’t need to do that. These were assumptions made when we built the programme but it can be “skinnied” down considering what we’re learning,’ they added. ‘Most training for Global Hawk is conducted on the job during missions. There are huge savings for the training tail.’

 

Admitting that there were ‘deficiencies in sensors’ compared to the U-2, officials conceded that there were ‘niche capabilities’ that the U-2 held over Global Hawk. Conversely, they said: ‘There are things that Global Hawk does with sensors that U-2 cannot do.’ They added that official air force data unveiled in the middle of last year showed how U-2 was less expensive to operate than Global Hawk on a cost per flight basis. However, they claimed that these statistics had since been reversed. ‘There has been a change in the maturity of the system. One-time costs associated with it were assumed into the database,’ they continued while describing how the system had not completed its scheduled amount of total flying hours last year, thereby increasing operational costs per hour.

 

According to Northrop Grumman, there are daily discussions with different elements within the USAF regarding Global Hawk Block 30. ‘We are all waiting for the actual budget to drop. Our suggestions centre around how and where to save dollars.’

 

Meanwhile, company officials said they were in the midst of initial discussions with the Singapore government regarding Foreign Military Sales of the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) Global Hawk variant. Having described ‘general briefings’ with Singapore officials, a Northrop Grumman source said: ‘We chatted them up and are keeping them up to speed on BAMS. As they roll out their requirement, we will see where they stand.’

 

The first flight of the BAMS MQ-4C is scheduled to take place in the US during September with an initial operating capability due to be implemented for the US Navy by December 2015. Similarly, Northrop Grumman is keeping the Australian DoD informed of programme activity. Company officials were in Australia last week to discuss specifics with their System Design and Development partner. Elsewhere, it emerged that Northrop Grumman has responded to India’s RfI for a HALE maritime UAS.

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8 novembre 2011 2 08 /11 /novembre /2011 08:10
Germany to Decide on UAS Purchase in 2012

 

Nov 7, 2011 By Sabine Siebold and Sarah Marsh/Reuters -  AviationWeek.com

 

BERLIN - Germany will decide next year which drones to purchase for its Bundeswehr military forces, a senior defense source told Reuters, which suggests it is refusing to bow to pressure from EADS for a quick decision to order its Talarion product.

 

The source said the Bundeswehr would continue leasing Israeli Heron drones until 2014. It could decide to order the EADS Talarion drones but could also opt for another model already available on the market and with a proven track record, the source added.

 

A separate source familiar with the matter said last week EADS was pushing for a quick decision from Germany on ordering Talarion drones and offering to waive penalties for a cut to orders for the Eurofighter jet if it did so.

 

EADS has spent years developing the Talarion unmanned aerial vehicle at its own expense in the hope of winning an order from the project’s instigators France, Germany and Spain. Yet the Talarion will likely only be operational from 2018.

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19 août 2011 5 19 /08 /août /2011 06:20
MDA Eyes UAS Missile-Tracking Potential

photo USAF

 

Aug 18, 2011 By Amy Butler aviation week and space technology

 

Washington- The General Atomics Reaper unmanned aerial system (UAS) may eventually go from hunting terrorists to hunting hostile ballistic missiles.

 

The U.S. Air Force’s Predator and Reaper UAS have been well-publicized workhorses providing intelligence and firepower on the front lines in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Arabian peninsula.

 

Now the Reaper may get a new mission as a frontline cueing system for the burgeoning U.S. missile defense architecture. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) officials say the Reaper and its Raytheon MTS-B sensor are showing promise. The system could plug a longtime gap by providing firing quality data to facilitate early intercept of ballistic missiles. MDA is exploring the technology and operational concepts for using electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) -equipped UAS to eventually achieve “launch-on-remote” capabilities with Aegis ship- and land-based SM-3 interceptors. This means the fidelity of UAS data would need to be high enough for commanders to launch an interceptor before Aegis radars capture the target.

 

Ballistic missile patrol is one of many potential missions for the large and growing Predator/Reaper fleet. As the Pentagon plans to draw down combat forces in Afghanistan—combat operations ended a year ago in Iraq—officials insist that intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets (ISR) will continue to support ongoing activities in these areas. But Pentagon planners are considering how these ISR resources can be reallocated or, if need be, modified to fill capability gaps for other missions.

 

UAS orbits could be placed to provide a “picket fence” of sensors if an area is expected to have hostile ballistic missile activity, says Tim Carey, vice president of intelligence for Raytheon.

 

MDA officials say data from early experiments show that “just a few orbits can provide substantial sensor coverage” for various regions.

 

Gen. Robert Kehler, who oversees U.S. Strategic Command, provides advice to the Pentagon on how to allocate ISR resources across the globe. Regional commanders in the Pacific, Africa, Europe and Central and Southern America feel the focus on U.S. Central Command and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have curbed their ability to monitor activities in their areas of operation. “Their view is that many of their ISR needs are not being met because of all the things we have placed in Centcom,” Kehler says.

 

A potential near-term application of UAS for missile defense is to support monitoring of North Korea. MDA plans to field the Persistent Tracking Satellite System (PTSS) as soon as fiscal 2016 to provide early launch detection and high-fidelity targeting data from space to ship- and land-based interceptors.

 

That plan, however, has two problems. First, even if fielded as planned, the sensor gap would not be closed until later this decade. Perhaps a larger issue is that funding for PTSS is in question.

 

Industry sources say MDA is struggling with a $4 billion budget gap in fiscal 2013-17, and a project as expensive as building satellites could slip or be axed altogether as Leon Panetta, the new defense secretary, searches for projects to cut in light of diminished funding and deficit reduction pressure.

 

The interim solution for MDA is to test and possibly field the Airborne Infrared system (ABIR), a UAS carrying the proper EO/IR sensors to support early intercept operations (a kill before a hostile missile reaches apogee), improved target discrimination and enhanced handling of the threat of missile raids (tens or more missiles fired nearly simultaneously).

 

Last year, MDA selected the Reaper as the platform of choice for the ABIR experimentation phase, which is ongoing. “If fielded, we envision a podded ABIR capability that could ride on a variety of unmanned or even manned platforms,” says Rick Lehner, MDA’s spokesman. Ultimately, platform decisions would be made in consultation with the Air Force and Navy if the system is fielded, as these services will be the operators.

 

Since 2009, MDA has conducted 10 flight tests in which ABIR was used for data collection. Six of these trials were observed using MTS-B-equipped Reapers and the remainder featured risk-reduction tests using ground-based sensors (see chart, p. 43). For these trials, at least two Reapers are needed to provide “stereo tracking.” Each EO/IR sensor provides a “flat” view, but triangulating the target provides higher-fidelity data.

 

A main objective in the trials has been to expose the MTS-B—which includes visible, shortwave IR and mid-wave IR sensors—to various scenarios and targets, from short-range to intercontinental ballistic missiles.

 

“We have been able to improve the pointing accuracy of the sensor [and] we have demonstrated automatic acquisition and tracking of the sensor required to meet system needs,” Lehner says. “Modeling indicates the agility of the sensor will substantially improve the raid-handling capability we currently have.”

 

Today, X-band radars—the AN/TPY‑2 and Sea-Based X-Band—are used for early tracking. Carey notes that the ABIR experiments are the first time EO/IR data have contributed to generating firing-quality data early in flight. (IR sensors typically provide only a cue to ground- and sea-based X-band radars.)

 

“They just never thought to look up” with the sensors, Carey says. “Everybody was surprised [by] the range at which we were able to detect the targets after burning and the accuracy with which we were able track them.”

 

The MDA has purchased four MTS‑Bs for ABIR experimentation, two last year and two this year, Carey adds. MDA is contributing to a larger Pentagon effort to develop the two-color MTS‑C; this will add a long-wave IR detection capability. While the short- and mid-wave bands are optimal during launch and rocket burn, a long-wave detector is better for tracking cold bodies, such as missiles after burnout, or plumes and exhaust.

 

Packaging short-, mid- and long-wave IR detectors on the same sensor ball, however, presents complex challenges, including design of proper cooling and meeting power requirements. One defense official suggests the MTS-C could be a year or more from being ready for work in this area. Lehner says the MTS‑C will be delivered in the summer of 2012 and begin testing shortly thereafter.

 

This time frame will be a key deciding point for the future of the program. Also next summer, MDA plans to conduct a launch-on-remote exercise. “To demonstrate launch on remote, we will provide real-time tracking data to [ballistic missile defense (BMD) command-and-control] nodes,” Lehner says. “The BMD command-and-control nodes then send [the data] to Aegis in a simulated engagement in the summer of 2012.”

 

Carey notes that in trials thus far, ABIR has generated virtual targeting data that can be compared against data from other sensors used in the tests. But he says more command-and-control and system architecture work is needed to make the system operational.

 

Early tests were highly manpower intensive; targets were acquired by hand and tracked by people. Software has been developed to automate that process. But officials need to develop an operational concept of how many UAS must be orbiting in what locations for an optimum chance of achieving early launch data if there is an unpredicted hostile launch. “If you put the aircraft in the right place and we know the test is coming, we turn it on and it will perform,” he says.

 

Through fiscal 2012, MDA has requested $178.5 million for ABIR. Depending on results of the flight trials, the agency plans to make a development and fielding decision around 2014.

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28 mars 2011 1 28 /03 /mars /2011 17:30

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