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.

Fortune: El-Erian-How the markets should read Ukraine’s crisis

With the fluid situation in Ukraine dominating the geopolitical narrative — and rightly so — many global investors are wondering what it means for their portfolios. Here are some key  takeaways: On a standalone basis, Ukraine is not systemically important. With a relatively small GDP (around $175 billion), its external economic links are limited… continue reading

AvWeek: China To Announce Large A330 Contracts In March

China will announce large contracts for the Airbus A330 next month, say two industry officials familiar with the negotiations.

Orders or intended orders for at least 70 and possibly 200 A330s will be revealed when President Xi Jinping and other leaders visit France next month, the officials say. The exact number remains undetermined, and the aircraft may not immediately go into Airbus’s books as definitive orders.

Theaters, Budgets Shape USAF ISR Future Focus

WASHINGTON — The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will leave lasting changes on the US military, but their biggest legacy on the Air Force has been the impact on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR).

The service’s ISR mission underwent a renaissance during the decade-plus missions in the region, transforming from a support tool to a vital part of every combat operation, with unmanned systems such as the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper seen as defining symbols of the conflicts.

But as the US moves away from the region, the Air Force is facing new realities — both strategic and budgetary — for its ISR mission, forcing service officials to make big decisions on laying the groundwork for what is to come.

To begin that process, Maj. Gen. John Shanahan, head of the Air Force’s ISR agency, issued a 14-page “Strategic Plan” in 2013 laying out the direction for the service’s ISR mission through 2023.

The report can be summed up in a line from his opening summary: “We must transition rapidly from a target-based, inductive approach to ISR centered on processing, exploitation and dissemination to a problem-based, deductive, active and anticipatory approach that focuses on ISR operations.

“We have to help shape the future or risk being shaped by it,” he concluded.

The most obvious challenge facing the service, and one identified by the Air Force chief of staff, Gen. Mark Welsh, as key, is the movement away from “permissive” environments toward contested ones. That includes a planned move away from technologies such as the MQ-1 and MQ-9, which can be victimized by advanced anti-aircraft systems, in favor of different technologies and strategies.