Aurora’s Centaur Gains a Foothold

Aurora Flight Sciences is displaying its Diamond DA42 optionally piloted aircraft (OPA) on the Diamond Aircraft stand here (OE18). The low-cost intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) solution is compatible with NATO standards, and “combines the best of manned and unmanned surveillance aircraft capabilities,” said U.S.-based Aurora.

Called the Centaur, the OPA can be self-deployed, as its ground control equipment fits in the aircraft’s cargo compartment. Conversion from manned to unmanned-configuration takes two crewmembers less than four hours.

The Centaur OPA is capable of fully autonomous operation, including waypoint navigation, with control via a Ku-band satellite datalink. A video link is beamed to a C2 station or Rover vehicle.

Control when unmanned is via the existing Aurora system, which has been shown to be reliable, with high levels of redundancy in line-of-sight (LOS) and beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) operations. The company points out that the aircraft is “an excellent solution for clandestine operations” as it “blends in visually into the general aviation landscape to a casual observer.”

Unmanned, the aircraft can fly for 24 hours with a 200-pound payload (or less time with up to 800-pound payload) and a range in excess of 2,000 nm. Top speed is 175 knots with a normal operating speed range of 135 to 160 knots. Service ceiling is 18,000 feet manned or, if unmanned, the aircraft can operate at anything up to 27,500 feet.

U.S. Navy’s UCLASS Requirements Continue to Shift

The striking power and stealth of the U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) concept was reduced to protect the role of the service’s next-generation of manned fighters, USNI News has learned.

 In particular, the change in UCLASS from a deep strike stealthy penetrator into the current lightly armed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) focused aircraft was — in large part — to preserve a manned version of the F/A-XX replacement for the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, several Navy, Pentagon and industry sources confirmed to USNI News.

Industry, Pentagon and Navy sources outlined a, “bureaucratic and cultural resistance to the introduction of unmanned aircraft onto the carrier.” Those sources outline a conflict inside the service between naval aviation traditionalists locked onto preserving manned strike aircraft against separate elements that want to shift more of the burden of strike to unmanned systems.

“Broadly speaking, the naval aviation community is kind of one mind on UCLASS and unmanned systems on carriers,” a former senior naval official familiar with the ongoing UCLASS requirements discussion told USNI News on Monday.
“If you didn’t want that unmanned air vehicle to compete with what’s likely to be a manned replacement for the F/A-18, what would you do? You’d make it ISR only or ISR/limited strike and make it for a low threat environment so that it really can’t complete against a manned fighter.”

Airbus Teams Up with Perlan Project

http://www.perlanproject.org/airbus-sponsorship-announcement/

Perlan Project Inc., a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit aeronautical exploration and atmospheric science research organization that utilizes sailplanes (gliders) designed to fly at extremely high altitudes is pleased to announce that it has partnered with Airbus Group – a global leader in aerospace – to fly a glider to the edge of space (+90,000 feet – 27,432 metres).
 
Airbus Perlan Mission II was unveiled today at the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh fly-in convention, the largest annual gathering of aviation enthusiasts and professionals in the U.S., by Jean Botti, Chief Technical Officer at Airbus Group, and Einar Enevoldson, Chairman, Founder and Pilot at Perlan Project Inc. 

 

Radar for Fire Scout C in the Works

The US Naval Air Systems Command is seeking information on radar technology that could be flown on board the service’s Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned air vehicle.

A request for information solicitation was released on 9 July, and calls for interested vendors to provide information on radar suitable for integration with the Bell 407 helicopter-derived UAV. The deadline for information is 11 August.

“PMA-266 is surveying the industry for current airborne radar/antenna capabilities that can serve to meet MQ-8C Fire Scout radar capability requirements,” the RFI reads.

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US Navy

Operational capabilities of the radar will include: surface search; synthetic aperture radar (SAR); inverse SAR; and weather modes. It should be equipped with an antenna/array with a minimum 180˚ field of regard, the RFI notes.

The radar being sought will weigh up to 81.7kg (180lb) without the radome, and have a maximum external volume of 305mm (12in) below the aircraft, with a 762mm-diameter antenna pedestal and array allocation. Internal allocation will be 686 x 1,170 x 508mm.

NRC Outlines Autonomy Impacts Within Unmanned Aerial Systems

As unmanned systems evolve rapidly from remote piloting through automated flying to autonomous decision-making, civil aviation will not escape unscathed. Beyond unmanned aircraft, the technology is expected to find its way into aircraft cockpits and air traffic control centers to increase efficiency and safety.

Ensuring safe and reliable behavior by systems that can adapt to their environment is the barrier to increasing autonomy in civil aviation, says a report by the U.S. National Research Council (NRC), commissioned by NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate The report identifies key barriers and provides a national research agenda for enabling the introduction of autonomy into civil aviation.

Bloomberg: ANA Orders $16.6 Billion in Airliners From Boeing, Airbus

Boeing Co. (BA)’s 787 Dreamliner gained a vote of confidence as ANA Holdings Inc. (9202) ordered 14 more of the jets as part of a $16.6 billion shopping spree a year after regulators grounded the composite aircraft.

ANA’s 70-plane purchase today tilted toward Boeing, with the U.S. company accounting for all 40 long-haul models in the deal, with a list value of about $13 billion. Toulouse, France-based Airbus Group NV (AIR), seeking to crack Boeing’s grip on Japanese airlines’ wide-body fleets, sold 30 narrow-body jets.