Nov 19, 2012 17:12 UTC
RQ-7 launch, Mosul
RQ-7 Shadow UAVs can be launched via runway or catapult, and land on runways. They’ve become the mainstay tactical-class battalion/ brigade level UAS for the US Army and US Marine Corps, and have also been exported to a number of countries. Italy and Sweden picked it, and Australia bought it under their JP129 program when their original choice didn’t perform.
The RQ-7B offers a longer wingspan and larger tail than the initial RQ-7A, and can carry a payload of 27.2 kg/ 60 pounds. This usually entails IAI Tamam POP-200/300 or L-3 Wescam 11SST surveillance turrets, but add-on kits can insert useful capabilities like laser targeting, the TCDL datalink, communication relays, or other sensors. The US Marines are even investigating weapon options. Meanwhile, that large UAV fleet needs support.
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Nov 15, 2012 17:06 UTC
In November 2012, Battlespace Flight Services LLC in Arlington, VA received a maximum $950 million indefinite delivery/ indefinite quantity contract for worldwide organizational level UAV maintenance support. Battlespace is the incumbent provider for the USAF’s MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper UAVs, and this program supports USAF Air Combat Command, the Air National Guard, and other major command and combatant command customers.
Work will be performed in Newport News, VA until March 31/14, which seems to add up to a lot of maintenance if they hit their maximum over just 17 months. USAF Air Combat Command’s AMIC/PKCA in Newport News, VA manages the contract (FA4890-13-D-0001).
Note that Battlespace is hiring, if you’ve been an MQ-1 or MQ-9 pilot or sensor operator.
Sep 13, 2012 11:29 UTC
Death from above
(click to view larger)
The Viper Strike began life as the BAT – a canceled munition option for ground-fired ATACMS missiles. After USAF Predator UAVs armed with Hellfire missiles began to show promise in the Global War on Terror, however, US Army planners began to examine their options. Could they place a similar capability in the hands of Army ground commanders? In July 2002, these examinations led to the award of a 90-day contract to demonstrate the possibility of BAT deployment on a modified U.S. Army RQ-5 Hunter UAV.
Those tests went well, and Viper Strikes are currently carried by MQ-5B Hunter UAVs – see this video [MPG, 13.2 MB] of a Viper Strike in testing. The weapon’s small size (3 feet long, 44 pounds) and special advantages in urban fights, mountainous terrain, etc. give it a chance of spreading to other platforms. Special Operations Command has shown interest, but front-line deployment has been limited. Is the Viper Strike a case of “the right weapon at the right time”? Or a case of “caught betwixt and between”? That’s now an important question for Europe’s MBDA, who bought the weapon and manufacturing from Northrop Grumman.
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May 29, 2012 15:11 UTC
NanoSAR on ScanEagle
In May 2012, ImSAR, L.L.C. in Salem, UT received a $24 million firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to build, test, and assess a lightweight ultra wide band synthetic aperture (ground-looking) radar for use on small unmanned aerial vehicles. Work will be performed in Salem, UT, with an estimated completion date of May 31/17. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received by U.S. Army Contracting Command in Natick, MA (W911QY-12-D-0011).
ImSAR’s NanoSAR radar has already tested on Boeing’s popular ScanEagle UAV, and the company began offering it as an official payload option on Feb 23/10. The US Army doesn’t use ScanEagle UAVs, but they do have options like the RQ-7B Shadow that could benefit from a small radar that was light enough to add in addition to the existing surveillance turret. ImSAR can offer them an improved NanoSAR B, or their new Leonardo radar that’s well-suited to tasks like convoy overwatch and land-mine detection.