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Volume 18 Number 5 October/November 2013

Up for grabs?
The post-OEF fate of the US Armys UGV fleet

OPV programmes

Middle East market analysis

Dealing with big data


Editor Andrew White. +44 1753 727023 North America Editor Scott R Gourley. Senior Reporter Beth Stevenson. Business Reporter Joyce de Thouars Contributors Claire Apthorp, Gordon Arthur, Pieter Bastiaans, Angus Batey, Rahul Bedi, Denis Fedutinov, Jos Higuera, Richard Scott, Matthew Smith, Tom Withington Production Department Manager David Hurst. Sub-editor Adam Wakeling Head of Advertising Sales Mike Wild. +44 1753 727007 Editor-in-Chief Tony Skinner Managing Director Darren Lake Chairman Nick Prest Subscriptions Annual rates start at 65 Tel: +44 1858 438879, Fax: +44 1858 461739
Unmanned Vehicles is published six times per year in February/March, April/May, June/July, August/September, October/ November and December/January by The Shephard Press Ltd, 268 Bath Road, Slough, Berks, SL1 4DX. Subscription records are maintained at CDS Global, Tower House, Lathkill Street, Sovereign Park, Market Harborough, Leicestershire, LE16 9EF, UK. Air Business Ltd is acting as mailing agent. Articles contained in this publication may not be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publishers.

3 Editorial Comment
Residents of a small town in Colorado could soon be allowed to shoot UAVs close to their property. Editor Andrew White discusses the potential consequences.


4 France gets ready for Reaper

A review of the latest developments from around the unmanned systems industry.

10 Rationalisation measures
As the US armed forces enter a period of transition, Scott R Gourley explores ongoing joint efforts to develop a truly multi-mission small UGV, and the likely fate of the current ground robot inventory.

15 Optional extras
Integrating autonomous capabilities onto existing manned helicopters can provide similar functionality to that of a dedicated unmanned platform, but without the lengthy and costly processes often involved with certification, Beth Stevenson reports.

32 Cloudy skies
The task of sorting, analysing and storing the vast amounts of information received from airborne sensor feeds is driving some innovative hardware and software developments, finds Peter Donaldson.

23 Scratching the surface

USVs have a way to go to reach the same levels of proliferation as their aerial counterparts, however they are finding a possible niche in the counter-terrorism and -insurgency role. Andrew White surveys the market.

36 A bird in the hand

Utilising smaller categories of UAS in-theatre can lead to increased man-portability, ease of use and simplified training processes for operators. Claire Apthorp provides an overview of the entry-level market.

28 A hard sell
Licensing restrictions continue to prevent Western manufacturers from exporting large UAS to many countries. Angus Batey questions such regulatory frameworks and considers how this has affected exports to the Middle East in particular.

40 Interview
As industry anticipates a draft RfP for the USNs UCLASS programme, RAdm Mat Winter, PEO Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons, explains to Beth Stevenson what potential bidders can expect.

The Shephard Press Ltd, 2013. ISSN 1351-3478 DTP Vivid Associates, Sutton, Surrey, UK Print Williams Press, Maidenhead, Berks, UK
Front cover: What next for the US Armys UGV inventory? (Image: iStockPhoto/Lorna Francis)

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Volume 18 Number 5 | October/November 2013 | UNMANNED Vehicles

Predator XP


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Leading The Situational Awareness Revolution


Resident trailblazers?
It started as a campaign to protest against the prospect of the US becoming a surveillance society, but it appears the residents of Deer Trail, Colorado, and a number of supporters worldwide are relishing the opportunity to literally shoot drones out of the sky from their backyards. First raised in August as a timely yarn to promote awareness of secretive, governmentsponsored surveillance programmes, Deer Trail councillors voted 50:50 for the introduction of drone licences, allowing residents to take potshots at unmanned platforms flying within 1,000ft of their property. A vote has been scheduled for 10 December for the citizens of Deer Trail to decide whether $25 licences should be awarded to applicants for such utility. The only stipulation? To be able to read and understand English. Despite boasting a population of some 546 (according to a 2010 census), town trustees have claimed that over 1,000 parties responded with interest to the licences, with some participants coming from as far away as Canada and the UK. Deer Trail prides itself on being home to the worlds first ever rodeo and if the licences were to be passed, it could also become home to the first annual drone hunt festival. The US DoD and industry partners could use the event to test autonomous capabilities of UAS as well as countermeasures and collision-avoidance technology. Deer Trail, if you will, could become a coliseum-like venue for the survival of the fittest in UAV technology a more extreme version of DARPAs Grand Challenge perhaps? Deer Trail is located just 50km to the east of Denver, and in the immediate vicinity of the town, youll find Buckley, Schriever and Peterson AFBs, not to mention the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station and USAF Academy. Add to this multiple National Guard facilities and law enforcement agencies close by, and it means licensed drone hunters in Deer Trail could have plenty of target potential. Serious or not, the FAA is concerned enough at the prospect of blue-on-blue attacks that it has issued a statement warning residents that a UAV hit by gunfire could crash, causing damage to persons or property on the ground, or it could collide with objects in the air. Salient points indeed. No matter how good the marksmanship of the residents, rounds will miss a moving target at 1,000ft and these bullets have to land somewhere. There have been tales of warning shots in Iraq, fired to disperse crowds, which ended up killing children who were kilometres from the scene. Whether it exposes itself as a political stunt or not, the Deer Trail issue brings up important points which must be considered in the unmanned arena. The Edward Snowden revelations regarding UK and US surveillance programmes have renewed interest in how government agencies identify and monitor terror cells at home and abroad. Rightly so, the general population remain concerned about their own privacy. But the fact that ISR UAVs are airborne in domestic airspace does not necessarily mean they are spying on law-abiding citizens. Law enforcement agencies are routinely using similar UAVs to identify and prosecute criminals and illegal immigrants as well as assisting in emergency recovery operations. The residents of Deer Trail and any visitors to the drone shooting festival would do well to bear this in mind, should the 10 December vote be in favour. Andrew White, Editor n Information exploitation n Unmanned logistics

Unmanned Vehicles editorial team is always happy to receive comments on its articles and to hear readers views on the issues raised in the magazine. Contact details can be found on p1.


n Aerostats n Sensors

Volume 18 Number 5 | October/November 2013 | UNMANNED Vehicles

French commanders take their first look at the MQ-9 Reaper. (Photo: DGA)

France gets ready for Reaper

The French Air Force has begun MQ-9 Reaper training in anticipation of its first delivery, thereby confirming its purchase of the UAV from the US. In June, it was announced that Paris had requested the purchase of 16 Reapers plus associated systems from Washington in a deal worth $1.5 billion, but since then neither the US DoD nor the French MoD have been able to confirm the transaction. Aircraft manufacturer General Atomics Aeronautical Systems also refused to comment. However, on 24 September, personnel from the air forces 1/33 Belfort Squadron conducted their first two-hour training flight at Holloman AFB, New Mexico, according to a French MoD statement online. Although 16 aircraft were requested in June, the ministry said that 12 aircraft are to be acquired, with delivery of the first two plus accompanying GCS expected towards the end of the year. The procurement follows a French white paper released earlier in the year, describing how a MALE UAV like the MQ-9 would provide strategic autonomy for the country. Training comprises theoretical and practical programmes lasting five weeks and includes five hours in a flight simulator. On 11 June, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian described plans to deploy Reapers to the Sahel region of Mali, describing the move as an operational necessity due to events in the country. Meanwhile, the air force has announced that its Harfang UAVs had logged 2,000 flight hours in support of French operations in Mali since their deployment in January 2013. The Harfang is operated by 1/33 Belfort in Mali, where it conducts in-theatre intelligencegathering for combat operations. This includes assisting air force and navy attack aircraft to acquire enemy targets on the ground. The Harfang MALE platform, manufactured by Cassidian, can fulfil a wide range of missions, from surveillance to peacekeeping, providing real-time information at each level of the operational chain via its SATCOM data link. It can operate with a 250kg payload for more than 24 hours at a time. By Beth Stevenson, London

US Navy awards initial UCLASS contracts

The USN has awarded four preliminary design review (PDR) contracts for the air vehicle segment of the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) programme. On 15 August, it was announced that $15 million fixed-price contracts had been awarded to Boeing, General Atomics, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, all of which are anticipating the release of a draft RfP for the development programme this year. According to the navy, the PDR contracts will run for approximately nine months, with work expected to be completed by mid-2014. The PDRs are intended to inform the navy of technical risk, cost and design maturity of the air segment, and allow the industry teams to better understand the programmes requirements across the entire UCLASS system to expeditiously deliver the unmanned carrier-based system to the fleet, Charlie Nava, the USNs UCLASS programme manager, said in a statement. UCLASS is the follow-on from the Unmanned Combat Air System-Demonstrator (UCAS-D) programme which was concluded earlier this year. It will provide a carrier-based persistent ISR and precision strike capability for the fleet. It is hoped that the draft will eventually lead to a final RfP, expected to be released in Q1 of 2014. UCLASS is scheduled to be operational by 2020. Lockheed Martin is proposing its Sea Ghost concept; Boeing the X-45C Joint UCAS; Northrop Grumman the X-47B UCAS; and General Atomics the Sea Avenger. The number of aircraft required will depend on the vendor and the selected design, Nava said. That is the basis of the framework of the number. After the contract award we will understand if this is a threeor six-year [technology development] depending on the vendor. See also p40 for an interview with the USNs RAdm Mat Winter. By Claire Apthorp, London

UNMANNED Vehicles | October/November 2013 | Volume 18 Number 5


Troubled waters for UK naval VTOL UAS

A highly anticipated Royal Navy (RN) VTOL UAV contract won by AgustaWestland was originally awarded to a Lockheed Martin/Saab consortium unable to meet the stipulated cost limit, industry insiders have revealed. AgustaWestland was awarded the 2.3 million ($3.66 million) contract to work alongside the UK MoDs Defence Science & Technology Laboratory in August to develop the Rotary Wing UAS (RWUAS) concept. However, sources claimed the company was the second choice of the navy. Lockheed Martin initially offered a solution based around Saabs Skeldar UAV for the programme. Skeldar received its first contract from the Spanish Navy in July and has since been deployed to the Horn of Africa for counter-piracy operations. Despite being the preferred bid, it is understood that the Lockheed Martin/Saab solution was found to be approximately 1 million over budget, a significant amount considering the overall contract value was just over double this. Subsequent discussion between all parties then failed to close the gap, hence the switch to an alternative solution, sources told Unmanned Vehicles. The RN would not comment on the allegations due to client sensitivity issues, while AgustaWestland has refused to comment on the contract award at all. RWUAS was initiated three years ago as the Tactical Maritime UAS programme and has been cancelled at least once before, defence sources stated. Sources confirmed to UV that AgustaWestland bid for the programme with its SW-4 Solo UAS/OPV. Other bids included a QinetiQ/Northrop Grumman team, Boeing, BAE Systems and Schiebel as well as another undisclosed company. AgustaWestlands winning consortium includes BAE Systems, Thales UK, Atlas Elektronik UK and Selex ES. The contract covers a two-year research programme into the capabilities of rotary-wing UAS. Although the Lockheed Martin team originally won the contract, it is also understood, somewhat AgustaWestlands RWUAS offering is believed to be based on the SW-4 Solo. (Image: AgustaWestland)

On the web
CaMEL UGV to take part in US Army demonstration 9 October 2013 Bluefin Robotics acquires SeeByte 8 October 2013 US Army to use LTAS aerostats during NIE 14.1 4 October 2013 US Army orders Mantis i23 gimbaled sensor payloads 2 October 2013 DroneMetrex conducts UAV mapping operation 1 October 2013 UAV Solutions supports Johns Hopkins University 25 September 2013 Northrop Grumman powers up MQ-8C Fire Scout 24 September 2013 High five for Phantom Eye 20 September 2013 Northrop Grumman details Triton radar development progress 19 September 2013 Aurora announces Orion UAS first flight 18 September 2013

contradictorily, that the navy originally mandated the requirement for a mature UAS product that could hopefully meet [Military Aviation Authority] certification and airworthiness criteria, bearing in mind the timescales of the contract. It is therefore believed that this is what AgustaWestland will need to provide, the source continued. However, he added: Questions must be asked about the maturity and airworthiness of any such VTOL UAV platform that is anticipated to be flown from a Royal Navy ship within the next 18 months or so. Northrop Grumman, which initially pitched an unmanned Gazelle helicopter in collaboration with Qinetiq, told UV its Fire Scout UAV would be ready to fly off a vessel straight away, warning that AgustaWestlands offering would take much longer. According to the MoD, the two-year capability concept demonstrator programme will inform future maritime UAS requirements, potentially leading to an acquisition [and the ministry] is also interested in identifying and assessing future sensor technologies of lower TRLs that are not ready for demonstration but may be suitable for simulation or other activities. Meanwhile, industry sources said Insitus 30 million UOR contract to supply its fixed-wing ScanEagle UAS to the RN, signed in June, also originally came in some 14 million over the budgeted price. Insiders told UV that the contract had to be cancelled and then re-issued, with Insitu re-bidding at a lower cost. Considering that the navy has since claimed it wants this capability in service as soon as possible, waiting for a re-bid will have added time to the programme and in turn delayed service entry. Insitu was unavailable for comment. By Beth Stevenson and Andrew White, London
for the full stories and latest news


Volume 18 Number 5 | October/November 2013 | UNMANNED Vehicles


New Taiwanese UAVs displayed

The state-owned Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST) unveiled two UAV designs for the Republic of China (ROC) Armed Forces at the Taipei Aerospace & Defense Technology Exhibition (TADTE). The first is the fixed-wing Cardinal II, an evolution of the Cardinal which was first seen at TADTE in 2011. Its development follows deficiencies of the latter design being identified during ROC Army and ROC Marine Corps evaluation, a spokesman revealed. Still a hand-launched system, Cardinal II uses parachute recovery instead of a glide landing. It is larger and has a range of greater than 13km. Another noticeable alteration is that the Cardinals interchangeable nosecone has been dropped in favour of a gimbal-mounted camera that retracts inside the fuselage for landings. CSIST took approximately seven months to develop Cardinal II, which was expected to make its maiden flight in September. It uses digital flight controls instead of the Cardinals analogue system. A CSIST representative said Cardinal II would be evaluated by the ROC Army very soon. The second system is Magic-Eye, designed to satisfy a military requirement. Designated missions will also include short-range surveillance and target acquisition. A spokesman said the rotary-wing aircraft negates the need for a runway, and the 2.5m-long, 20kg design will be ideal for use from naval and coast guard vessels. Work on the project commenced in late 2011. It employs a COTS engine and has a range in the vicinity of 8-10km. However, after flight tests it was decided a larger craft was needed to increase the payload capacity.
Cardinal II was developed on the back of operational feedback from ROC Army and Marine Corps units. (Photo: author)

Magic-Eye II is now in development, but has not yet taken to the air. Taiwan has deliberately opted to avoid importing UAVs, charging CSIST with meeting its current and future requirements. Unmanned Vehicles understands the institute is developing classified designs including an armed aircraft in the Predator class capable of launching air-toground missiles. The Ministry of National Defense also exhibited an in-service Chung Shyang II UAV, an aircraft with 12-hour endurance that has been in full service for the past two years. An ROC Army official revealed that 30 systems were currently operational. By Gordon Arthur, Taipei

Delayed Watchkeeper finally certified

The WK450 Watchkeeper UAV design has finally received certification from the UKs Military Aviation Authority (MAA), Thales UK has announced. According to the company, which manufactures the WK450 alongside Elbit Systems, the statement of type design assurance (STDA) confirms that the Watchkeeper air vehicle and software have reached an acceptable level for design safety and integrity to meet the current stage of the systems development. The news is set to ignite fresh speculation as to whether the UK MoD will decide to deploy the ISTAR asset to Afghanistan as British forces look to wrap up their involvement by the end of 2014. According to Thales UK, the STDA forms a key component of the process, allowing the MoD to continue towards an initial release to service (RTS) which authorises flight in the military environment. Watchkeeper is the first UAS to receive such an STDA from the MAA and represents a major step forward for the acceptance of UAS in the airspace environment. This underpins military flying globally in appropriate airspace, a company spokesperson said. The MAA is the independent regulatory authority responsible for all aspects of military air safety. Traditionally, its rules have been enforced for manned assets, although they have been adopted for UAVs, including certification to CS23 and CS25 standards. Additionally, Eddie Awang, Thales VP of ISR, added: The issue of [an STDA] from the MAA is a major milestone for the Watchkeeper programme and a first for a UAS programme in the UK. Deployment of Watchkeeper to Afghanistan has been pushed back time after time. Army sources told Unmanned Vehicles that it had been originally planned to operate the UAS in-theatre by the end of 2010. However, the programme suffered a series of flight delays in 2009, although officials at the time asserted this would not impact planned IOC dates. In June 2011, army sources informed UV that three systems would be deployed in support of Operation Herrick in Afghanistan by April 2012. The MoD was unavailable to comment on the STDA, although a spokesperson for Thales told UV: The MoD are continuing with the next stages towards RTS ensuring that all the aspects and lines of development of flying Watchkeeper are covered, which will then allow Watchkeeper to be operated to meet their global capability needs. The deployment of Watchkeeper to Afghanistan or any location for that matter is an operational decision and will be taken nearer the time to meet the operational requirement. In the meantime, Hermes 450 will continue to provide an essential tactical UAS capability in support of UK and coalition ground forces in Afghanistan. By Andrew White, London

UNMANNED Vehicles | October/November 2013 | Volume 18 Number 5

Stabilized Day and Night EO/IR Gimbals

ydney S , 3 1 0 2 c At Paci isit us at s plea e v oth # M6 o Hall 5, B


See them in time

U.S. Navy photo by Jalon A. Rhinehart. Use of released U.S. Navy imagery does not constitute product or organizational endorsement of any kind by the U.S. Navy.


US details UAV test site plans

The US Department of Transportation has confirmed that six UAV test sites will be established by the end of the year, following a delay in the decisionmaking process. Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari told the AUVSI Unmanned Systems conference in Washington, DC that the 2015 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) deadline, which states that national airspace in the US must be open to UAVs, is a very ambitious one. A total of 25 proposals in 24 states have been submitted and Porcari reiterated that these sites will have to abide by privacy laws. Our role is to define how to implement the technology, he added. We want innovation to cross the spectrum, but we are agnostic as to who actually does it. He added that manned aviation would have to cooperate with UAS eventually, although not immediately, saying: For the foreseeable future there are going to be [manned] aircraft not equipped with sense and avoid and we are going to have to accommodate that. The FAA may be slow to adopt but we need to affirmatively know that we have a safe system. The fact is that safety is at the heart of what we do. Were encouraged by technology development but were primarily concerned with safety. All of this can be a pretty frustrating issue, he admitted. Meanwhile, Qinetiq has announced plans which will significantly extend its UAV training areas in the UK. The company has announced a teaming agreement with Llanbedr Airfield Estates in Wales to incorporate the facility into the West Wales UAV Centre.

With both sites run by Qinetiq, the agreement aims to facilitate more UAS training in the region for both military and civil systems. The one thing holding back the UK is lack of activity, Paul Hearn, business development director, air division, at the company told Unmanned Vehicles at the DSEi exhibition on 11 September. This is about opening up more possibilities. At the moment flying UAS is only difficult because its new. He explained that operations in Wales are already saturating the airspace, something which the government wants to see to prove that there is a market for UAV operations. There is the danger that if we are inactive these opportunities will pass us by, he continued. If were going to do more of this we need to prove that we can do it. By Beth Stevenson, Washington, DC

UK MP pushes for military drone transparency

A UK politician representing the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drones has challenged the MoDs use of armed UAVs, calling for more operational transparency. Labour MP Tom Watson conceded that UAV use is an important contributor to the economy in the UK, but warned that the technology had the potential to test our frameworks and laws almost to destruction. Speaking at the Royal Aeronautical Societys UAS conference in London on 16 September, Watson said: The governments lack of transparency on how it has used drones internationally has been confusing. He also questioned how many civilians had been killed by UAV strikes as part of UK operations, with only four deaths recorded by the MoD. An ill-informed public is hard pressed to hold government and its representatives to account on this issue, he said. In the context of Afghanistan, there seems to be very little rebutted Watsons hints that there may have been more deaths that were not recorded, saying the RAF was only aware of one incident with civilian casualties. Reflecting the sentiment of the Assistant Chief of Air Staff during a conference last week, Melville stated that only one in 12 sorties results in a strike from the Reapers, and reiterated that the platform was a trustworthy system that has earned its place in the RAFs Afghanistan inventory. He spoke of demands from the public to release videos of the lead-up to strikes, but claimed that this would not be straightforward and doing so would jeopardise operations. It would not be fair for the public to judge the operations of professional crews based on limited information, he stated. If such information was released the Taliban would have an advantage. By Beth Stevenson, London

Photo: UK MoD Crown Copyright

publicly available information on the policies and decision-making that resulted in the deployment of drones. Lack of transparency means it is difficult to understand what the rules of engagement are regarding the deployment of drones and how this differs, if at all, to the rules of engagement of fast jets. However, Wg Cdr Gordon Melville, responsible for UAS strategy at the MoD,

UNMANNED Vehicles | October/November 2013 | Volume 18 Number 5


Rationalisation measures
ne of the enduring lessons learned from US military involvement in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) is that UGVs across the size spectrum play a key role on operations. However, with the pending transition of force posture to apost-Afghanistan environment, the question now shifts to the fielding levels that those systems will have in future army and marine corps elements. Some of the smaller UGV workhorse platforms that have proven themselves during OEF include both iRobots PackBot and Qinetiq North Americas Talon families. The COTS PackBot is a small, tele-operated, tracked robotic family, with more than 1,900 platforms supporting operations in-theatre. System variants include the PackBot 500 EOD platform; the PackBot 500 Fido chemical sniffer; and the PackBot 510 FasTac. A recent software upgrade on the PackBot 510 enhances plugand-play interoperability of all 500 and 510 series payloads on the FasTac chassis. A lighter member of the PackBot family, the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV) 310, also known as the mini-EOD, has been procured to assist the EOD community. The vehicle-transportable, tele-operated, multi-terrain tracked Talon family of COTS robotic systems is also supporting soldiers and marines in EOD, route clearance, engineer support and reconnaissance and surveillance missions. Approximately 800 Talon systems were fielded to OEF and Operation New Dawn during the latter years of the Iraqi conflict.

Photo: US Army

As US armed forces enter a period of transition, Scott R Gourley explores ongoing joint efforts to develop a truly multi-mission small UGV, and the likely fate of the current ground robot inventory.

nn FLEXIBLE FRIENDS Clear evidence of continuing US military interest in this UGV size can be found in recent government activities surrounding programmes like the Man Transportable Robotic System Increment II (MTRS Inc II). According to one recently released market survey from the Project Manager of the Robotics Systems Joint Project Office (RS JPO), the government is seeking to identify sources capable of manufacturing a COTS robotic system to support the proposed MTRS Inc II programme with the potential applications

chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN), EOD and combat engineers. Although the survey stated that the government is primarily focused on seeking suitable commercial items to meet potential government requirements for MTRS Inc II, it added the caveat that if no such commercial items currently exist, the government may entertain the procurement utilising other options based on the information received as a result of this market research. The MTRS Inc II system provides a standoff capability for soldiers and marines to detect and confirm presence, identify disposition and counter hazards by providing an unmanned platform for payloads in support of current and future mission requirements, it added. The system is intended to be vehicletransportable and capable of being carried

UNMANNED Vehicles | October/November 2013 | Volume 18 Number 5


by two soldiers. It will be highly mobile and used on mounted and dismounted operations. MTRS Inc II will be a modular system that can be reconfigured by adding or removing sensors, manipulator arms and mission payloads, allowing this capability to operate together with these sensors through the Operator Control Unit. According to Col Benjamin Stinson, USMC project manager, RS JPO, the recent MTRS Inc II market survey is directed toward the robot after the current COTS Talons and PackBots that we have. It would be in that 150-180lb [70-80kg] weight class; ones that soldiers and marines can lift and move around but certainly not ones that they are putting in their rucksacks, he explained. We were looking to procure for the engineers the follow-on to the COTS Talons that we had purchased, because some of those are starting to get a little aged. And what happened was, briefing through the building and getting up through [Heidi Shyu, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology] there was a strong desire on the part of the army to incorporate all of the armys needs, at that size of robot, onto a common chassis/system.

iRobots SUGV 310 or mini-EOD was procured to counter IED threats in Afghanistan. (Photo: USMC)

nn COMMON CHASSIS While the army has discussed the concept of a multi-mission common chassis for several years, the concept took a giant step forward in early September 2013 with the RS JPO release of the UGV Interoperability Profile (IOP) 1.0. Unlike the earlier Version 0, Version 1.0 was not publicly released but is available to qualifying entities on request. Emphasising the pathway to commonality, Stinson said that IOP 1.0 will provide the architecture that will allow us to have the common chassis so that if somebody needs a special payload, all we have to do is just develop the payload and integrate it to the robot, instead of acquiring a whole complete new robot. So thats how this all fits together, he said. The MTRS Increment II programme gave the army a reason to look at and understand what it is doing in terms of a common chassis for that weight class. So Ms Shyu directed an AoA [Analysis of Alternatives] to be done to

take a look at the different programmes that currently exist in the army, which would be [Advanced EOD Robotic Systems (AEODRS)] Increment II and MTRS, from a corporate and an enterprise perspective. Right now, the Talon is pretty much what most people are using in that 180lb weight class, he added. Because the PackBot is a little smaller it doesnt have the lift required its payload capacity probably wont let it carry everything the army needs it to carry. So Ms Shyu wants us take a look at the cost benefit of having everything be on one chassis for all needs for engineers, for CBRNE, for special operations and for EOD who all have registered requirements in this arena. That AoA process seems to have caused some public UGV forums to talk about a big robot garage sale that the US military will conduct post-OEF. Asked about that scenario, Stinson offered: The message we want to get out is that the army has a use for robots in the future. The army procured a lot of robots for these specific fights and cant afford to keep all of those robots going in the future. So we are going to try to neck down to a few models and types in the various categories.

nn ONE CAREFUL OWNER Emphasising that most of the current robot fleet was procured as non-standard equipment, he elaborated: There is a transition process that needs to occur and its not cheap to take

something that you didnt buy the full package of and now have to do that after the fact. We are going to have to make sure that we do that judiciously, keeping some of what we need. Maybe we keep it on the shelf. And maybe its not out there in the hands of users but it is easily reachable if an incident requires us to have it. Some will be stored. Some will be in the hands of users. Some will be divested. And we are going to carefully do that, he reiterated. For those systems selected for divestment, current RS JPO plans focus on taking maximum advantage of FMS interest to either return revenue to a specific programme or to the US Treasury. Army and marine corps robotic systems that are not kept in warfighter hands, stored for future contingency use or sold through FMS arrangements will likely be directed for disposal through DLA Disposition Services (DDS), formerly the Defense Reutilization Marketing Office. There, a standard pecking order process would be applied to the equipment, with first choice going to other federal agencies, then state requirements, then academia. In some cases, if an item is completely COTS they could even go to sale to individuals, Stinson said. But robots are not going to be in that category. We think they are important enough and specialised enough, with technologies that we want to keep with government agencies or academia. So the average American citizen will not likely be able to march down to the DDS sale yard and pay pennies on the dollar for a robot.

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It has to do with the capabilities. It has to do with the frequencies that they operate on. Some of the decision points that we will make for keeping the robots will be based upon the frequency range that they operate in. In fact, some of the robots that we have over in theatre work over there but they are not approved to work over here because theyre not in the right frequency band.

nn THROWAWAY COMMENTS Some of the most recent entries to the small UGV arena involve so-called throwable or micro-robot designs like the ReconRobotics Scout XT, Qinetiq North Americas Dragon Runner 10 (DR-10) and iRobots 110 First Look. Between the needs of the US Army Rapid Equipping Force, the Joint Improvised Explosive

Device Defeat Organization and RS JPO, several hundred of these systems have been procured and fielded over the past few years to meet urgent theatre requirements. Within RS JPO, two of the COTS systems are managed under a category dubbed Ultra Light Reconnaissance Robot (ULRR). Asked about the post-OEF future of the ULRR platforms, Stinson selected his words carefully, telling Unmanned Vehicles: That area is interesting because when you get that small, your ground mobility is challenged. So we are studying the size of the robot that makes sense to be a ground robot. What types of payloads and/or cameras would that have on it? What does it weigh? The army and the marine corps are trying to lighten the load for the soldier and the marine.

All of that is causing us to have to look at what our current robot is and what capability is provided by the mostly throwable robots because thats basically what those ultra-light robots are to some degree throwable or very backpackable, he continued. Its all about the capability. Even though Im a robot guy, I have to be concerned about providing the warfighter with capability. And we have to make sure that it makes sense to give him a robot to meet that capability and not something else whatever that would be. So in this resource-constrained environment of the future we want to make sure that we are providing the capabilities that the soldier and the marine needs. And the device or physical programme solution has to be something that works in various environments. It has to work

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Throwable UGVs have been used prior to military operations in urban terrain, including room clearance drills. (Photo: US DoD)

beyond this past conflict that we had. And I think that the services are just going to take a little bit of time to digest all of the lessons learned from how they were used in these last two conflicts and what it means to have an ultra-light robot in future conflicts.

nn MICRO MACHINES Looking ahead, he continued: That study and that analysis will shape, I think, what a ULRR looks like in the future. Technology-wise were not at the point where we can give soldiers the robotic insects or spider-bots and all of that yet. Thats a

little bit too far out now. So before we get to that were trying to understand how to power and fuel something that long. Thats what it boils down to the robot might weigh four pounds, but the battery required to operate it for a week out in the field might be more than a soldier wants to carry. So the power, weight, everything, has to be something that the soldier or the marine is willing to carry. And another part of that becomes what they are not going to carry to make that trade-off inside that rucksack. In terms of a time frame for these decision and action processes involving small UGVs, plans call for the MTRS Inc II AoA to begin early in FY2014. Since the outcome of that AoA will shape any follow-on programme decisions something commercially ready, requiring minor tweaking, or a full developmental new start effort any

subsequent programme timeline would be pre-decisional, according to Stinson. With respect to the disposition of the robots, the administration has put out its timelines for exiting out of OEF it seems to be somewhere between the end of the fiscal year or maybe the end of the calendar year but we have to be ready to support that, he added. And there is a large push right now to bring stuff back. So we are in the process of doing this now with disposition and we are waiting for some decisions to be made about what types and quantities will be kept, what types and quantities will be fielded to users and what types and quantities will be stored for future use. And once we have the lockdown on those quantities then the rest become the excess quantities that we move through the system. UV

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15 OPVs

Unveiled at AUVSI in August, Sikorskys Matrix technology is already halfway through flight testing. (Photo: Sikorsky)

Optional extras
Integrating autonomous capabilities onto existing manned helicopters can provide similar functionality to that of a dedicated unmanned platform, but without the lengthy and costly processes often involved with certification, Beth Stevenson reports.
You are going to really see this start to move out to pretty much all platforms that we see, or at least portions of this, whether it is in landing control, situational awareness or sense and avoid. Various components of the autonomy elements will then move off not just in the military market, but also the commercial market where various platforms are just looking for additional situational awareness to ensure safety. Adding autonomous capability to a helicopter that weighs over 9t is not easy. The platforms already have the controls fixed in place, and a rotorcraft, which has stability issues even with a pilot flying it, is even more difficult to manoeuvre when the operator is sitting on the ground. However OPVs have their merit, enabling pilots to switch over from one format to another. In addition, the cargo-carrying capacity of a helicopter makes the OPV ideal for the mundane load carriage tasks that unmanned aircraft are suited to undertaking. In August, UV revealed that the UK Royal Navy had selected helicopter manufacturer he roles of manned and unmanned aircraft have merged in recent years, with the latter taking over some of the responsibilities previously laid upon the former. Each has their place in military airspace, and in some cases both are required within one operational environment. In an effort to maximise the output of a single aircraft, developments in manned aviation are aimed at a future operating scenario where these two variants could be rolled into a single optionally piloted vehicle (OPV).

AgustaWestland for a two-year research project as part of its Rotary Wing UAS concept. The company, based on its rotorcraft legacy, is believed to be offering an OPV for the capability concept demonstrator (CCD) programme, aiming to show that this technology design is shaping the future of maritime UAS. This is not part of an acquisition process, rather a developmental research project into the navys options, as it will inform future maritime UAS requirements, potentially leading to an acquisition, an MoD statement reads.

nn EXISTING FOUNDATIONS Helicopter manufacturers have begun integrating unmanned technology into established manned airframes in order to develop OPV variants. As these autonomous technologies become trusted more by the users, they will be more willing to embrace them, Jon McMillen, Lockheed Martin business development lead for K-Max, told Unmanned Vehicles.

nn PLATFORM OPTIONS It is believed that the company proposed a number of aircraft for the CCD, although it is unclear which one it will pursue for the contract. One option is the PZL-widnik SW-4 Solo UAS/OPV developed in 2011 and unveiled at MSPO in Poland in 2012. Its maiden flight is due some time this year. Another option might include the Project Zero tiltrotor concept. Either way, the navy was able to select from a myriad of VTOL UAV designs, with bids

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coming in from teams such as Qinetiq/ Northrop Grumman, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, and it is somewhat significant that an OPV was selected for the contract rather than a design from a dedicated UAV manufacturer. Derived from the AH-6 and MD 500 manned helicopters that have some ten million flight hours between them, Boeings Unmanned Little Bird (ULB) is currently under development. Simon Harwood, strategy and business development director at Boeings Phantom Works, told the Royal Aeronautical Societys UAS Conference in September: To me, the innovation here is the optionally piloted aircraft (OPA) element of it. In my view, OPA is not the long-term solution. To me, OPA is an intermediary solution while we struggle with some of the policy issues that are talked about at the moment. Because the ULB is an optionally piloted helicopter, the use of a safety pilot during the test missions is really an enormous benefit. [This] has exponentially sped up our testing timelines due to the fact that the safety pilot mitigates all of the UAV component risk in the test timelines. He/she can take control of the aircraft at any time if need be, quickly repositioning the aircraft during a test scenario. Having the pilot on board also helps alleviate some of the airspace regulation issues of flying a UAV in national airspace, he explained.

The R&D effort is expected to last another two years, and a first flight was conducted using an S-76 modified as the Sikorsky Autonomous Research Aircraft in July at West Palm Beach, Florida, where the companys X2 VTOL speed technology demonstrator was also tested.

nn GPS GUIDANCE The ULB programme started in 2004 and has since flown some 1,400 hours. In 2012, it demonstrated take-off and landing from a commercial ship off the coast of Florida using a GPS-based control system. It has also been demonstrated off a French warship in the Mediterranean. The platform has additionally been evaluated in South Korea, with the technology forming the basis of the US Office of Naval Researchs (ONRs) Autonomous Aerial Cargo/Utility System (AACUS) programme, aimed at developing advanced levels of autonomy for cargo UAS. ULB in its highest performance configuration, the AH-6 model, has a gross

Two K-Max OPVs have been deployed in Afghanistan, although one crashed in June. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

take-off weight of 4,700lb [2,130kg], an empty take-off weight of 2,100lb and a useful payload of 2,600lb, but of course you can trade that off in fuel versus payload, added Harwood. During the AUVSI Unmanned Systems conference in Washington, DC, in August, Sikorsky introduced its Matrix autonomous technology for its rotorcraft, which is currently halfway through a flight test campaign. The programme includes fly-by-wire flight controls and high levels of redundancy.

nn PROTOTYPING PROCESS Chris Van Buiten, VP of Sikorsky Innovations R&D, told UV: This is using the same rapid prototyping process but this is now the autonomous initiative. It involves taking a reliable helicopter and adding this new technology. The only way you remain viable is by pushing these frontiers. According to Van Buiten, the next stage of the testing will involve close-to-ground testing, including obstacle avoidance. Well be demonstrating taking off and landing with more obstacles in the way, he said. This is a new level of reliability and safety. Obstacle-rich testing is the next big thing for us. We think the future is OPV, or augmented flight. The technology will be available for both military and commercial platforms, while development is centred on the S-76 and Black Hawk aircraft. Van Buiten explained that current UAV loss rates are typically one per 1,000 flight hours, but based on the sophistication and cost of rotorcraft, the Matrix development is aiming to lower this to one per 100,000 hours. He said that the technology is platformagnostic, but lends itself to larger VTOL aircraft. Although this is an internal R&D development, potential end users are already involved in the programme, he noted, although he was unable to provide further details. Meanwhile, in April Eurocopter demonstrated its validated autonomous EC145 configuration to the media at Istres air base in France. It flew in both piloted and unpiloted modes and was the third autonomous test for the technology demonstrator out of 28 flights that it had flown to date. The company will eventually apply this concept to other aircraft in its family when it

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18 OPVs

Ahead of the Paris Air Show this year, Eurocopter validated its OPV technology, which will eventually be applied to other aircraft, on an EC145. (Photos: Eurocopter)

has matured further. The EC145 was chosen because of its popularity, and customer discussions will lead to a decision on whether to apply this to a heavier or lighter aircraft next.

nn FIRST ADOPTERS The military market is expected to be the first adopters of Eurocopters OPV concept as they have the clearest means to move towards this type of operation. Jean-Brice Dumont, executive VP of engineering at Eurocopter, said at the time of the testing: This OPV is a very basic and simple concept. We consider this a real success a technological success because we achieved what we wanted to achieve. The concept was validated ahead of the Paris Air Show in June. It shows after a programme like X3 our ability to innovate, he continued. It also shows an excellent relationship with the authorities this is not a standard or normal flight. Dumont described how the concept simply requires an extra box, while the real effort comes from ensuring that it is safe to fly. Meanwhile, Roland Gassenmayer, project manager for innovation at Eurocopter, said the programme was thought up in September 2011, taking just a small team of engaged people for it

to come to fruition. This was the first unmanned flight of a helicopter for Eurocopter we had to integrate secure data flow into the ground systems and autopilot, he said. Dumont admitted to a media briefing in April that Eurocopter is running a race with other OEMs that are adopting their platforms for this technology, but said the company is simply working to ensure the system is reliable enough to meet current requirements.

During the Helitech International exhibition in September, Eurocopter CEO Guillaume Faury told UV that, in the wake of a fatal crash of an AS332 L2 in the North Sea on 23 August, more in-flight automation is required to increase the safety of the aircraft in adverse conditions. All the time we are getting more information about what happened and reviewing what the lessons are that we can learn, he explained. But it seems that human factors played a great

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19 OPVs

role in this accident and we will see what the AAIB [Air Accidents Investigation Branch] will tell us now and later. We at Eurocopter are making a lot of effort in bringing to the market products with high-end autopilots and flight domain protection. Although these comments came as a result of a social media backlash against the aircraft and company, AAIB and Civil Aviation Authority statements released following the crash claimed that there was no evidence a technical error caused the accident, thus suggesting that human error was responsible.

through the flight certification process youd have to do to test out potential technologies that could go forward. The K-Max becomes a sort of surrogate to validate next-generation technology, and once they are validated in an operationally relevant scenario, then it gives a very rapid path to being certified for use on a fully unmanned vehicle.

nn LENDING A HAND Aside from being operational platforms in their own right, OPVs are also being used to speed up the certification of autonomous technology for UAVs. One such example is Lockheed Martins K-Max OPV, two of which are currently deployed in Afghanistan with the USMC for cargo missions. Derived from Kamans manned original, it is now undergoing US Army testing to explore and validate a range of future autonomous technologies under the Autonomous Technologies for UAS (ATUAS) programme. In June, it was reported that one of the two operational aircraft had crashed near Camp Leatherneck in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, when operating in autonomous mode, although nobody was hurt. An investigation is under way, but confidence in the K-Max has not been affected by the incident, Lockheed Martin told UV in September. The rationale for using K-Max is that its an OPV that allows us to demonstrate and mature these technologies much faster than you could with a standard UAS, explained McMillen. We can test this out, put a safety pilot in the seat, and then demonstrate these technologies in a much quicker fashion than having to go

nn DROPPING DATA Testing has included advanced technologies such as dynamic replanning, as well as using onboard high-resolution sensors. K-Max also achieved a first in the industry when Lockheed Martin put a Ku-band, BLoS data link underneath the rotors. Typically, that causes a lot of data to be dropped where the rotors are going through, and you do not get a clear image coming back, but we implemented a waveform that allows it

to get a crystal-clear image shooting through the rotors, continued McMillen. Combining the HD EO/IR with a high-bandwidth satellite data link, you can then transfer HD video through satellites to give the ground support more situational awareness. By testing the autonomous technology on an OPV, a pilot can always be in the loop, helping the army and Lockheed Martin get around certification challenges. We can fly under an experimental certification, and because we actually have somebody sitting in the seat as a safety pilot, we can take these technologies and demonstrate them very, very quickly, he continued. What it also helps with, is that when you go through to do the actual certification for a full unmanned vehicle, you already have to have a lot of test data collected. The most recent ATUAS test was in June, and this is due to be followed by the next round of demonstrations in November. These will include showing multi-vehicle control, a fully autonomous retrograde solution and the ability for the aircraft to pick up cargo on the hook without humans being involved.

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20 OPVs

The company is also under contract with the ONR to demonstrate the technology, with the ultimate aim of transferring the autonomy onto other platforms. This is the beauty of some of these autonomous technologies they can be platform-agnostic, explained McMillen. We will be demonstrating this as part of an ONR contract that were under, where well take the autonomy technologies we have on K-Max and actually show the portability and the platformagnostic capabilities of the entire system moving to other platforms.

The ULB programme began in 2004, and it has since flown 1,400 hours and demonstrated a ship-based take-off and landing. (Photo: Boeing)

nn CONTRACT AWARD Under the AACUS programme, two prototype development contracts were awarded in October to Lockheed Martin and Aurora Flight Sciences. We are putting together our solution right now, said McMillen. The first phase well be demonstrating in early 2014 to show full autonomy and how a helicopter comes into an area without having any previous knowledge of it and finds a safe landing zone and sets down.

Were incorporating a bunch of technologies on the platform not that dissimilar to what were doing with the army. The [service] was really increasing the autonomous capability, and the ONR is taking this to the next level, having fine control to be able to do landings. We plan to be demonstrating some of that early next year, and going forward from that we will show the platform-agnostic capability. The US Armys Joint Multi Role (JMR) programme the initial stage of the Future Vertical Lift effort is expected to incorporate pilot-optional capability, although the current technology demonstrator (TD) phase under way does not stipulate this as an urgent requirement. This capability demonstrates

the future need for autonomy even in manned flight, although the exact level of autonomy that will be incorporated remains to be seen. Good autonomy/aiding in the cockpit has been shown to fundamentally change the way pilots use the aircraft and its systems to complete the mission, the JMR TD RfI explains. JMR has the potential to incorporate significant autonomy/aiding for a wide variety of missions, including that which enables pilot-optional capability and UAS as true team members. This effort seeks to explore combinations of autonomy/aiding functionality and pilot/commander role and assess impact on effectiveness for these unique crew/ automation configurations in a simulated JMR operational environment.

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nn CATEGORY 1 A total of four companies have now been awarded contracts for the JMR TD phase. On 2 October, the armys Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center announced the award of four technology investment agreements to AVX Aircraft, Bell Helicopter, Karem Aircraft and Sikorsky after all were deemed to provide Category 1 proposals. Whether these aircraft simply act as a tool for speeding up the certification of UAVs, or if they are a capability in their own right, OPVs or manned aircraft with a certain level of autonomy are setting a trend in rotorcraft development. Helicopters are expensive systems to procure, so it makes sense that an operator would want to take the capability of them that step further to future-proof what is a significant investment. UV


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USVs have a way to go to reach the same levels of proliferation as their aerial counterparts, however they are finding a possible niche in the counter-terrorism and -insurgency role. Andrew White surveys the market.

23 USVs

Scratching the surface

can any number of Jihad forums on the Internet and one will find lists of advice detailing how best to attack commercial and military targets at sea. One entry, for example, describes methods to attack naval vessels and very large crude carriers (VLCCs). It reads: There are many different navy battleships, and certainly they are equipped with radar and modern equipment to detect sea mines or anything close to them, but if you really intend to attack a ship then you can use booby-trapped boats and send them towards the target. Today, such forums illustrate a continued interest in attacks on naval targets in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, as well as the Suez Canal, according to Allen-Vanguards Triton Threat Intelligence reports. The most prolific attacks over recent years include the water-borne IED against the destroyer USS Cole in the port of Aden on 12 October 2000, as well as attacks on the VLCCs Limburg in the Gulf of Aden and M Star in the Arabian Gulf in October 2002 and November 2010 respectively.
Future CONOPS could see USVs inserting special forces and providing overwatch during a mission before extraction. (Photo: IDF)

nn ATTACKING THE VULNERABLE [Internet forum] posts are possibly influenced by the recent upsurge in interest shown on [al-Qaeda]-affiliated forums in attacking shipping at locations where vulnerability during transit facilitates an opportunity to

compromise vessels under way and where the resources to carry out such an attack are deemed available, a Triton intelligence report reads. [This] is further evidence of a general acknowledgement by forum members of the value of attacking maritime targets from the perspective of them being purely disruptive this approach has been described as economic jihad. In typical jihad fashion, concepts of operations (CONOPS) can vary enormously,

USVs could also be used in a swarm configuration for CT and counter-piracy operations. (Photo: Commonwealth of Australia)
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24 USVs

with one forum describing how a jihadist commando battalion, armed with AK-47 weapons and automatic pistols on a fast boat, can seize an oil tanker or a cargo ship belonging to the countries that are against Islam and either ransom it or blow it up with its crew. Another post described how a group of human frogmen can dive and hang explosive materials [on] the hull of the target, whether on a propeller or another place, and then leave the package attached to the tanker until it arrives at a port and detonate it in the Port of London, or elsewhere. According to Simon Potter, an analyst on Allen-Vanguards counter-threat solutions team, violent piracy (hijackings, hostage-taking and incidents where crew members have been at serious risk) has been the focus of Somali

pirates, although over the past year this has shifted to incidents within the Gulf of Guinea.

nn PIRACY FIGURES According to Triton reports, there have been some 114 recorded piracy incidents over the past 12 months, although Potter conceded that the figures only covered incidents deemed by us to fit the above definition. He told Unmanned Vehicles: Terrorism involving fast attack craft is not overly common, however IED attacks involving vessels are collated. We also have more detailed reporting on significant incidents such as the large IED placed in a RHIB [rigid-hull inflatable boat] off Misrata in May 2011. The conclusion is that maritime terrorism is a matter that needs addressing. One option to

Rafaels Protector USV is, according to the company, already predominantly utilised for CT operations. (Photo: Rafael)

counter such threats is the use of USVs, which are finding a niche for themselves in the counter-terrorism (CT)/counter-insurgency role around the globe. However, the market solution appears to be immature enough that CONOPS are still in development, although there are plenty of options for the use of USVs in maritime CT. At present, such platforms are being utilised to provide a stand-off/detection and force protection capability for example, deploying from a larger host vessel in order to confirm positive identification (PID) of a subject of interest.

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25 USVs

include open architecture, multi-mission/multipayload adaptability and simplified interfaces adaptable to customer requirements.

Israel is understood to be using such a capability, although its MoD officially refuses to comment.

nn SPECIAL SAMPLE However, defence sources have indicated to UV that there might be additional utilisation of USVs in support of special forces CT teams. As an example, there are moves afoot to design an unmanned US Navy SEAL delivery vehicle that could drop off operators and then circle an area of interest, providing overwatch and a force protection capability. The same idea, sources revealed, could be made applicable for USVs, although such moves are premature at the moment. According to industry sources at Rafael, which manufactures the Protector platform, most of its USVs continue to be made for the CT role. Protectors Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection mission module includes an EO and radar capability for target detection, tracking and acquisition, linked to a Mini Typhoon stabilised weapon system for lethal engagement and water cannon for non-lethal capability. Altogether, Protectors have and are being used exactly for the purposes mentioned, the source told UV. The CONOPS create a kind of sterile area around a significant or major asset like an oil rig, warship or offshore powerplant. [USVs] can detect targets around them and can be sent out to identify objects of interest. Protector has the capability to go out and perform PID using EO systems and can interact with a potential target using a loudhailer system, provoking a response from whoever it is. Typically, ranges can comprise anything between a 15 and 30km radius away from a major asset, thereby giving the USV and friendly forces plenty of time to respond to a threat, in the open-water environment at least. According to Nicholas Ceradini, senior business development director for USVs at AAI,

among the greatest threats in the maritime environment are swarm or pack-style attacks by small boats or fast attack craft that are increasingly being used by pirates, terrorists or enemy countries in regions such as the Persian Gulf and off the African coast, as well as the CBRNE threats to potential targets including port facilities, power stations, oil rigs and other high-value assets. AAIs Common USV (CUSV) can be easily adapted for asymmetric warfare (AW) and CT operations: CUSV has the ability to house or tow various sensors and has demonstrated a non-lethal weapons package, Ceradini told UV. For instance, a customer could contract us to outfit the CUSV with a CBRNE detection system that can be deployed to screen cargo and other ships for potential threats before they enter harbours. He highlighted three key requirements for USVs when considering the AW/CT role. These

nn CONTRACT OPTIONS Looking ahead, he suggested that AAI would be interested in contract service provision for such capabilities, which has to date only been seen in the use of UAVs and manned airborne ISTAR assets. We have two CUSV systems that are ready and available for a customer with requirements in the AW and CT areas, to utilise through a contract with us for sale, lease or fee-for-service, described Ceradini. We have successfully executed several US Navy-sponsored multi-mission exercises, including the Trident Warrior 2012 fleet experiment, during which our CUSV successfully demonstrated the ability to conduct collaborative unmanned minehunting and mine-neutralisation operations, he explained. CUSV is currently being considered by the USN for mine countermeasures (MCM) missions and there are several potential

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26 USVs
AAIs CUSV is being considered by the USN and other international navies, according to the company. (Photo: AAI)

international customers with whom AAI is in discussions, according to Ceradini. However, he was unable to provide more details. According to Rafael, there are many issues to be ironed out ahead of USV deployment on AW/ CT operations. These, according to the company, include logistical issues such as launch and recovery from larger vessels. We have not carried out any specific work on launch capability, but have been in contact with several sub-contractors, the source continued. However, nothing is yet in place to do this automatically. Our main aim is to recover a USV completely automatically. We have seen some ideas, but these have not yet been put in place it will likely happen in the near future.

nn LESSENING THE LOAD Another additional capability important for the USV CT role is that of autonomy and being able to lessen the load of an operator, while at the same time allowing control of multiple USV. To do that, the USV needs to have some level of autonomy, added the source. Such thoughts were echoed by Ceradini, who described how CUSV currently lies at Technology Readiness Level 7 and was approaching level 8 maturity as UV went to press. The platform now includes sliding autonomy ranging, which can see the vessel operating completely autonomously with its detect, sense and avoid capability or as an operator-controlled vessel. Rafael sees such autonomy requiring an ability to switch control from one USV to another, as well as from operator to operator. However, the company raised the question as to how many Protector USVs would be required to provide sufficient coverage for an area or item of interest. These are all the types of CONOPS which, Rafael said, must be worked out ahead of such specifications. However, referring to swarm operations of USVs, the company source noted: You wont

see USVs in swarms of tens, but we do see groups working together in numbers between three and five. We have done such work and looked at protecting wide areas and we have in place an operational concept for that. We dont yet see operating a group of USVs by one single operator, but [rather] several operators working in conjunction with one another, covering wide areas using communications system to support coverage of wide areas. Referring to payloads, the company said they must be sufficient to allow a USV to safely approach a target of interest in order to PID the subject and actively interact with an end effector if necessary. These must be integrated together in the right way, the source told UV. Sensor to shooter requires a very quick response time.

USV market is still in its infancy, as people are still trying to prove the CONOPS. STEs Venus USV is versatile enough to perform maritime surveillance, MCM missions and force protection. However, Ng admitted that the vessel had yet to be field-proven, although he could foresee a potential role. These thoughts were echoed by Rafael, with the company source admitting to UV that the market is developing slower than expected. We started ten years ago with several customers and supplied quite a few systems, he said. We still believe in a breakthrough and are still hoping it will happen. The source described how navies and marine forces were suffering from psychological inhibitions, blaming these on conservative outlooks and reluctance to make hi-tech changes. They are moving slower than air forces, he suggested.

nn FIRING UP Protector is currently integrated with Rafaels stabilised Mini Typhoon remote weapon station, which doesnt feel like its in a maritime environment as far as motion [goes], the source continued. Its almost the same as firing from a static mount. Fire control is a bit more complicated, but there is no real effect on range and it is very accurate. He also revealed that Rafael was working on other mission modules, including a precision strike option, comprising a weapons mount and four Spike missiles for surface warfare. We are also looking at EW but have no details at moment, as well as mine warfare and other types of non-lethal, acoustic systems. In addition, he mentioned integration of diver detection systems with USVs. Despite the development of new CONOPS in the maritime CT domain, the USV market does not appear to be growing at the same rate as other unmanned sectors. According to Singapore Technologies Engineering (STE) VP of business development Ng Tee Guan, the

nn SLOW DEVELOPMENT Another company that has recently pulled out of the market due to the economic downturn is Zyvex Technologies. Company president Lance Criscuolo told UV: Currently, we dont work in this market. We still have a few marine customers, but we dont produce vessels any more at Zyvex. There is simply not enough profit in that line of business and the market is very slow to develop. Such news is ominous for the industry. In 2011, Zyvex launched its lightweight patrol vessel technology demonstrator which it planned to roll out in an unmanned configuration. Additionally, Criscuolo had told UV that the company was in discussions with market leaders in the USV world for potential tie-ups in the future. Ceradini described the USV market as emerging at a slow but steady pace. I believe it is about where UAVs were about ten years ago, he said. Well see market growth once their utility is fully understood, and people see how vessels like our CUSV can be an extension of the operational and situational picture for the end user. We believe the market is poised to take off in a fashion similar to the way the UAV market has expanded. UV

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General Atomics Predator XP has been ordered by the UAE. (Photo: GA-ASI)

he potential size of the global UAS market has long been recognised, and there are few companies involved in the provision of platforms or services that will be unaware of the possible upsides of establishing themselves in as many territories as is practical. However, the regulatory frameworks UAS must exist within present challenges, and export control regimes set limits on the ambitions of manufacturers of larger systems. This affects all regions to some degree, however the issue has become especially pronounced in the Middle East.

A hard sell
some of the worlds biggest-spending defence customers. However, for the moment, little seems to be changing. Concern is growing that certain parts of the globe will effectively become off-limits to Western UAS manufacturers and those markets are likely to be supplied by nations with emergent capabilities which are as yet unaligned with the same export control regimes. A good illustration of the kind of problem that could become commonplace is in the case of Saudi Arabias pursuit of a MALE UAS capability. According to reports in US State Department cables published by Wikileaks, the country was rebuffed in its attempts to acquire Predator systems from General Atomics earlier this year, reports claimed that a deal had been signed with South African company Denel for the supply of Seeker 400 systems, which would, it has been claimed, undergo further work in Saudi Arabia to provide a weapons delivery capability. Representatives of Denel declined to be interviewed by Unmanned Vehicles on this

Licensing restrictions continue to prevent Western manufacturers from exporting large UAS to many countries. Angus Batey questions such regulatory frameworks and considers how this has affected exports to the Middle East in particular.
subject, while another member of staff on the companys stand at the DSEi exhibition in London in September denied that the company had made a sale to Saudi Arabia. General Atomics also declined to comment.

nn REGULATION FRUSTRATION For companies partaking in the fastest-growing segment of the aviation market, being unable to supply customers in certain parts of the world for reasons entirely outside their control makes business more frustrating and complicated than it would ordinarily be. There have been signs that industry is ready to mount a charge against the current slate of export control regulations, which effectively bar companies in the West selling larger UAS to

nn MTCR CONSTRAINTS The situation appears anomalous. Western nations are perfectly at liberty to export faster, higher-flying manned aircraft with much greater payload capacity to Saudi Arabia the country already operates the Eurofighter Typhoon and Panavia Tornado jets, procured from the UK, and has over 150 US F-15s, with another 80 on order. However, as UAS are governed by the voluntary Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) export regulations and because, by being capable of flying for more than 300km carrying a 500kg or larger payload, Predator falls under Category One of that framework a company from a country which is a signatory to the MTCR agreement would be denied a licence to export the system by their home government.

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MTCR goes back to 1987, and even at that point it did include UAVs, said Doug Barrie, military aerospace specialist at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. But if you think about what a UAV is now and what it was 30 years ago, theyre very, very different creatures. MTCR was and is all about trying to stop the proliferation of vehicles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction [WMD], so ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and UAS are caught up in there because, in the 1980s, a UAV was akin to a cruise missile in some senses, and was looked at as probably a credible method of delivering chemical or biological weapons. Up until about 2000, this all rubbed along reasonably well, but from 2000, with the emergence of longer-endurance ISR UAVs, the whole thing gets extremely difficult. He continued: Theres an issue about how MTCR deals with unmanned systems, and there are two schools of thought. Theres one that says it deals with it absolutely right these things are potentially delivery vehicles for WMD and should be seen as such. But theres another side which says, actually, its no more or no less a delivery vehicle for WMD than a manned aircraft, or a truck full of Sarin. And, on the ISR side, there is an argument that says, should these things be controlled within MTCR? Well, probably yes, but perhaps not as Category One, but as Category Two.

According to correspondence released by Wikileaks, Saudi Arabian attempts to procure Predators were rebuffed. (Image: Wikileaks)

licence application is declined, but it is unlikely to put the company at risk. For SMEs, however, such issues could make or break the business. It hasnt caused problems, Edmondson added, referring to his own business, which builds engines. But it slows things down, and, coming from a UK perspective as an SME, you cant let anything slow you down because youre going to lose the sale. And thats the difficulty.

Saudi Arabia is set to receive a total of 72 Typhoon aircraft from Eurofighter. (Photo: UK MoD)

nn MONITORING THE SITUATION Questions over the suitability of the MTCR framework as a means of controlling export of todays generation of UAS are not just a preoccupation of the manufacturer and user communities. Opponents of military UAS capabilities are also monitoring the situation. We have seen five attempts by the US to change the MTCR in relation to UAVs over the past couple of years, all of which failed, said Chris Cole, founder of Drone Wars UK, which campaigns against military use of UAS. So behind the scenes there is lobbying by those companies in the US who have a vested interest and want to see their products exported. At the same time, there are those, particularly in Congress, who think: Well, hang

on a minute here shouldnt we: (a) take the strategic advantage [of being the sole operators of the technology]; and (b) isnt it kind of dangerous for security to have this [technology exported]? That debate has been ongoing, and I think, until very recently, those against exports have had the upper hand. Theres a lot of logic in it, said the CEO of Gilo Industries Group, Jim Edmondson, referring to the way MTCR is applied to UAS. Edmondson is also the president of the UK chapter of AUVSI, but stressed that he was speaking in a personal capacity and not on behalf of the organisation, or any of the companies affiliated to it. I think UAS is quite an immature market, and because of that, theres a lot of unknowns in it, so they classify it, he continued. You see this a lot with export controls they classify something until they can understand it better. For small or medium-sized businesses, export restrictions can sometimes become existential crises. It is far from ideal for a large prime contractor to suffer delays while paperwork is scrutinised, or to write off a month-long marketing campaign when a

nn SPARKING INTEREST To date, there is no evidence either of British SMEs seeking to circumvent MTCR, or going out of business as a result of inability to make export sales. However, as the government continues to promote the role of small businesses within the defence industry, and new SMEs with innovative and often niche products continue to enter the growing UAS marketplace, the issue becomes one that state bodies will take an interest in. The Defence and Security Organisation, part of UK Trade & Investment, seeks to help SMEs increase their export potential. Its business development director, Keith Venables, said that his department is not hearing complaints from SMEs that MTCR is an impediment to international growth. The licensing and the politics arent the issue at the moment for UK SMEs in this field, he told UV. The challenge is actually in bringing together a disparate capability that we have in the UK. We have lots of components where the sum is probably greater than the whole. I think their issue is route to market and were busy trying to help them find routes for small British companies to [work with] the primes. Some SMEs have complained, not specifically about MTCR as it applies to UAS, but about the licensing process in general, and that getting a defence product approved for export can be slow and cumbersome. However, Venables, whose department does not have any responsibility to lobby on behalf of business for changes to or streamlining of the licensing regime, believes that many of the problems businesses encounter can be eased by greater understanding and education.

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He said: Sometimes an SME complains, and I ask: OK, whats the product? And he says: Thermal imaging for China. And I say: Come on! There must be some other countries you can sell your thermal imaging to? Theyre encouraged by good noises, and they think: If only I could get a licence, Id get a sale. Well, Im sorry, it may be an easy sale for you, but Im afraid it isnt going to happen.

nn REASSESSING LICENSING Yet, it seems possible that, in the medium term, Western governments may wish to look again at how UAS exports are licensed for reasons almost entirely unrelated to the technology or its capabilities. The example provided by Saudi Arabia is instructive. The reported end product of the

contract an armed, but small UAS with short (~400km) range and low payload capacity is a relatively modest capability, but it has apparently been sought from beyond the customer nations traditional suppliers of military aviation platforms. On its own, the purported South African deal is not enough to suggest Riyadh is considering breaking its links with the UK or US, but the supply of UAS to regions with as many political challenges as the Middle East will become an increasingly charged issue. With countries such as China and Iran aggressively pursuing indigenous military UAS capabilities, and likely to market systems for export as soon as they reach a sufficient level of maturity, the supply of such aircraft to Middle Eastern militaries could soon become a

geopolitical bargaining tool. In that context, the role of the factions lobbying for and against UAS technology is set to become increasingly important. Were on the point of other nations being able to [export armed UAS], added Cole. Whatever part of the arms control sector youre involved in, there are always going to be other nations that arent willing to be involved. Nevertheless, there is still value in building some kind of regime that can control these weapons as best you can particularly aimed at the nations that are using them. And lets be honest here, it isnt China or North Korea using these, its the UK, Israel and the US. I think the debate is between whether we need to strengthen MTCR and see that as the instrument around which to control the


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Saudi Arabia is understood to have signed a deal with Denel for Seeker 400 UAVs. (Photo: Denel)

proliferation of drones, or whether there is some other, better way of controlling proliferation. To be honest, I think the debate is still out on that amongst campaigners. There are arguments on both sides. To start a whole new control regime for one specific type of weapon is a big ask. However, there are lots of problems with MTCR, primarily in that its a very secretive process.

nn MORAL GROUND I think theres a genuine appreciation within the community that deals with and thinks about the ethical and moral implications of war within a legal context, and the military themselves, and some politicians, that all of this needs some very careful thought, noted Barrie.

This kind of technology isnt going to go away. It will enter the inventories of many more militaries, both in terms of ISR systems and eventually armed UAVs. In the protest environment, these people have obviously quite a deeply felt moral position, but thats not to dismiss it. I think there are some legitimate issues that [Cole] highlights in particular that the community does need to address. While the politics around proliferation play out, the opportunities and threats for businesses will remain delicately balanced. If history offers any kind of guide, it is that markets such as the Middle East may end up being served by suppliers based in countries with less rigorous export control agreements, although the economic and political impact of that may not prove entirely problematic.

For everybody that is out there, there arent that many contracts around, said Edmondson. If you go to AUVSI Washington, theres hundreds of platforms, but not many of them have actually got a programme of record. And what I think youre going see happen over the next ten years is the products that really work will stay in, and they will get export licences, and they will take advantage of the global market. I think its the same with aviation going back historically. If you look at sales of the Tornado, thats why MiG did so well. Because basically it was, We cant sell to them, so MiG did really well. And I think youll see the same thing happen again. But I think theres enough market globally for the best companies to survive, and youll see the chaff fall by the wayside. UV


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Volume 18 Number 5 | October/November 2013 | UNMANNED Vehicles


Photo: USAF

anaging the data that UAS generate is a colossal problem that has been growing for years at a pace the available solutions are unable to match. Full motion video (FMV) is the most obvious example of this as camera resolutions, the number of UAVs in the air over combat zones and the time they spend airborne have grown dramatically. This has presented operators with the unenviable task of staring for hours at boring patches of desert, for example, waiting for something significant to happen so they can extract and pass on nuggets of actionable information from interminable periods of inaction. It also strains data link bandwidth, processing resources and storage capacity all along the chain. Other sensors such as synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and hyperspectral imagers are rapidly adding to the petabytes of data that threaten to overwhelm all efforts to extract something useful and get it to the people who need it in time to make a difference. Fortunately, big data is an issue that affects industry, government and society at large, creating a market for a new generation of software tools able to exploit key IT developments, ranging from faster processors and denser memory chips to

Cloudy skies
artificial intelligence, automatic target detection, geospatial information systems and cloud computing.

Software that can automatically detect and track targets in real-time FMV imagery, whether in the visible or IR parts of the spectrum, is improving significantly, even with the extra challenge of using a relatively unstable small UAV platform. Australian software house Sentient, for example, has just released a new version of its Kestrel package which incorporates automatic stabilisation, exploitation analytics, target classification and CPU load reduction functions. The idea is to enable operators to extract intelligence from the imagery more quickly and with a lower processing burden. Kestrel specialises in finding targets that are either too small or moving too slowly for human operators to detect easily, such as individuals walking or swimming, for example. At the simplest level, Kestrel puts numbered red boxes around moving targets in an otherwise unremarkable scene. Development of the new release has been driven by consistent feedback from the companys customers in the Middle East, South America and Africa who have been pushing for

something to help them make good operational decisions more quickly, according to Simon Olsen, Sentients director of business development, strategy and partnerships. Kestrel already does the detection task really well, he told Unmanned Vehicles. With this new release, we have invested considerable resources in helping deliver the targets to the warfighter in a way that they can quickly analyse, interpret and disseminate to downstream users. Significantly lowering the burden on the processing system, the optional automatic stabilisation compensates for unstabilised imagery from small UAVs kicked around by rough air. A further benefit is the ability to zoom in on any target in the field of view (FoV) without having to re-task the sensor. New exploitation software allows the user to analyse the environment more quickly, interrogate areas of interest and rapidly disseminate both information and imagery to others. At the same time, says the company, geo-location data, velocity, size and direction of targets of interest can be assembled and disseminated, offering a precise, real-time view of only those targets. Being able to share target information with a click of a button shortens sensor-to-shooter time considerably, said Olsen. Good, fast decisions save lives.

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The task of sorting, analysing and storing the vast amounts of information received from airborne sensor feeds is driving some innovative hardware and software developments, finds Peter Donaldson.
nn META ANALYSIS Much of the value in sensor imagery comes from the context, which is found in the metadata information about information that tells analysts the time, date, location and altitude, for example, associated with the imagery. Unfortunately, the normal friction involved in any real-world process means that metadata can be less than perfect, so it can benefit from the kind of reverse engineering that tools from the likes of 2d3 can provide. In the latest release of its motion imagery processing, exploitation and dissemination (PED)

suite launched in May, the company incorporated Reticle FMV metadata improvement and geo-registration software. The companys three-layered pyramid of PED products consists of: TacitView, which enables analysts to find, scrub, view, improve, tag, edit, annotate and publish motion imagery across the enterprise during all phases of exploitation; Catalina server software that allows them to connect to, archive, search, process and disseminate motion imagery and other data; and the Tungsten software development kit. Integrated into Catalina 3.1, Reticle FMV is designed to improve geospatial data for use in mapping and targeting by correcting errors typically found in FMV captured by airborne platforms. An optimising function cleans up and normalises noisy metadata in a live feed or recorded file; a real-time geo-registration function improves it further by the use of reference digital elevation models and imagery; and a target co-ordinate improvement function computes the position of any point that the user selects in the imagery, providing estimates of uncertainty as a quality measure. Each step in the process builds on the previous one, the company said. We have always shared a vision with our users, and that was to do more than just provide tools for processing and exploitation of your FMV data, but also provide tools to make it better, said 2d3 president Jon Damush. Reticle capitalises on our rich computer vision heritage

and expertise in FMV and metadata, taking processing and exploitation to the next level. We are making FMV more reliable and ultimately more usable than ever before. FMV is here to stay, and we are here to ensure that it can be used as a critical geospatial sensor. Hyperspectral imagers are optical imaging sensors that also function as spectrometers. They can distinguish multiple wavelengths of light reflected from the surface of the Earth and help identify materials and objects by exploiting their characteristic spectral signatures or fingerprints. The downside for data management, of course, is the very large files that they generate. Highspeed scanning across a wide or continuous FoV and across broad swathes of spectrum frequently generates multi-gigabyte files. Dealing with them is made easier by specialised devices such as the new Hyperspec Data Processing Unit (HDPU) from Headwall Photonics, which also makes the MicroHyperspec sensor. Designed for small UAVs, Micro-Hyperspec can weigh as little as 630g in its smallest instantiation. A modified COTS system, the HDPU provides high-speed data processing and storage in a compact and rugged solid-state enclosure designed for airborne applications. Supporting both Windows and Linux, the HDPU comes preloaded with Headwalls Hyperspec III software. The electronic guts of the box include a 2.2GHz Intel i7 dual-core processor with 1,066MHz bus speed, 4GB of DDR3 SDRAM running at

Watching hours of inactivity can hamper an operators ability to identify smaller targets, but evolving PED packages can find them. (Photo: UK MoD Crown Copyright)

New software can clean up FMV metadata, making it more accurate. (Photo: USMC)
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1,333MHz and a SATA3 solid-state hard drive with 512GB of storage capacity. Interfaces include RS-232, CameraLink, USB 2.0 and gigabit Ethernet, including locking types. Drawing up to 150W of electrical power, it runs on 14-30V DC.

TacitView enables analysts to find, view, tag and publish motion imagery. (Image: 2d3)

The Socet GXP package integrated into BAE Systems GXP Xplorer. (Image: BAE Systems)

nn CORE MUSCULARITY One long-sought solution to the data deluge in general and the bandwidth limitations associated with data links in particular has been to pack as much processing power as is practical aboard the airborne platform itself the ratio of actionable information to raw data being similar to that of gold to the ore from which it is extracted. Enter Mercury Systems Ensemble HDS6602 High Density Server, which the company expects to be the only embedded, dual Intel Xeon E5-2600 v2-based processing module able to deliver peak symmetric multiprocessing performance of 608GFLOPS. Unpacking that jargon a little reveals a monster spawned to lurk in the dark corners of the internet such as data centre server farms, designed to drive high-speed cloud computing and now adapted to meet the demands of the most complex radars and other massively intensive embedded processing applications. Code-named Ivy Bridge, the Xeon E5-2600 v2 is Intels latest family of processors for the next generation of data centres. They feature up to 12 cores (ten in the HDS6602 application), which makes their relatively modest clock speed of 1.9GHz beside the point the relevant measure of its processing speed is that figure of 608GFLOPS (608 billion floating point operations per second). The third-generation Intel Xeon E5-2600 V2 product family is designed to bring serverclass computing to the edge of the network, explained Frank Schapfel, director of marketing for Intels communications infrastructure division. Mercurys ability to provide a robust, industrystandard platform for the most intensively rugged environments delivers even more computing capability in military and aerospace applications. Multiple cores enable symmetric multiprocessing, which Princeton University defines as two or more identical processors connected to a

shared main memory and controlled by a single operating system instance. The ten cores in the Xeon E5-2600 V2 are treated as separate processors and share all the tasks, connected by Intels QuickPath technology that speeds up the flow of data between the cores. Mercury has unique domain experience deploying Intels server-class technology and is pivotal to many of todays high-end, in-theatre solutions, according to Gregg Ogden, the companys director of solutions and product marketing. Imagine the computing performance and possibilities of the latest 64-bit, high-end, datacentre server blades packaged in a rugged OpenVPX module. The HDS6602 is just that an intensely powerful, open-standards, open-fabric server blade for deployment in harsh environments.

nn SHARE AND ENJOY As the number of users with a need to share data from ongoing UAV missions increases, providing them with access to the data becomes difficult. Based in Port McQuarrie, New South Wales, UAV Vision has turned to cloud computing to offer a solution, providing what the company describes as a mechanism for truly distributed operations. UAV Vision says that its cloud technology enables an unlimited number of users to use its Aerial Information (AI) software and log into flight missions to view all streaming video as well as the operators actions in real time. One operator remains in control of the payload, however. All that users need to log in is Internet access and the correct user names and passwords. Naturally, the main operator station must also be connected to the Internet, so UAV Vision provides communication modules that support 3G connectivity or alternatives along with a data access plan. With connectivity established, the AI software communicates with the companys dedicated data management servers.

Cloud computing is also among the options available to analysts who use US National System for Geospatial Intelligence sites following the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agencys (NGAs) award of the iSToRE XP contract to BAE Systems in May. Based on the companys commercial GXP Xplorer product, the software for NGA enables analysts to easily access local data and connect to remote GIS data stores and libraries. The company will provide licences to cover the NGAs transition to commercially based information storage from its legacy systems. Options for additional licences through 2016 would, if exercised, support joint task force HQs, intelligence centres and forward-deployed warfighters worldwide, says the company. Intelligence analysts are challenged with managing increasing amounts and types of data to perform their mission, commented Jeff Allen, general manager of BAE Systems Geospatial Exploitation products business. GXP Xplorer reduces the analysts time spent locating and retrieving structured and unstructured data by up to 75%, which provides more time to analyse and create actionable intelligence. GXP Xplorer operates on hardware platforms ranging from handheld devices and rugged laptops to enterprise servers and virtualised cloud environments, according to BAE Systems. It enables users to search unlimited amounts of data to identify and catalogue images, terrain, features, videos and documents on local networks or across an enterprise. Even though the growth of big data will constantly threaten to overwhelm the RF bandwidth available to data links, raw processing power and storage capacity at the extreme ends of the ISR chain within UAV-mounted sensors and within data centres at home or in deployed locations seem positioned to offer ever more capable solutions to the problem, particularly when coupled with rapidly evolving PED software packages. UV

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LO O K I N G F O R . . .




A bird in the hand

Utilising smaller categories of UAS in-theatre can lead to increased man-portability, ease of use and simplified training processes for operators. Claire Apthorp provides an overview of the market.
They require either a launching pad or runway, large teams of people to support them, and as you move up the chain, the support structure gets larger so that when you get to Tiers 3, 4 and 5, there are hangars, maintenance crews and pilots things that are very similar to the way manned aircraft work today. Our Raven, Puma and Wasp systems offer a very different paradigm. With our systems, its a backpack or case, any small clearing, and its carried and operated by someone who most likely hasnt been trained as a pilot, but has gone through a two-week training course. And the operational benefit here is that this is the he use of high- and medium-altitude UAVs has delivered a step-change in the way armed forces are able to gather intelligence and provide overwatch for military operations. However, the recent cancellation of Germanys Euro Hawk programme is illustrative of the expense and complexity of deploying these advanced systems, particularly during current economic conditions which dictate that all equipment must be delivering value for money throughout its entire life cycle. At the lowest echelon of the battlefield, entry-level UAVs typically those within the nano, micro, mini and small categories are providing ISR capabilities that belie their low cost, simplified concept of operations (CONOPS) and support and maintenance requirements.

only way that people on the ground can see what they need to see. This is where small, mini- and micro-UAV systems add the most tangible value to the soldier on the ground, creating a direct, uncomplicated intelligence path from the asset to the user. These soldiers typically dont have access to the larger assets, which are fewer in numbers and may be far away or otherwise unavailable, continued Gitlin. And for these reasons the value proposition of SUAS is extremely compelling.

nn INFRASTRUCTURE SIMILARITIES If you look at UAVs in the Tier 2 to 5 categories, those systems tend to be operated similarly to regular airplanes, Steve Gitlin, VP of marketing strategy and communications at AeroVironment, told Unmanned Vehicles.

The PD-100 PRS, or Black Hornet, requires just a two-day training cycle. (Photo: Prox Dynamics)

nn MINIMAL INTERACTION Group 1 UAS, such as Lockheed Martins Desert Hawk III, currently in operation with UK armed forces, also have minimal exposure to interaction with other aircraft, whether military or commercial. This creates its own set of training benefits. Desert Hawk III operations generally take place at altitudes lower than 1,000ft, whereas larger Group 2, 3, 4 and 5 UAS, such as ScanEagle, Hermes, Predator and Global Hawk, often share the national airspace system with commercial and general aviation aircraft, explained Bill Daly, business development manager for small UAS at Lockheed Martin. As such, the [UK] Military Aviation Authority has crafted operator training, certification and currency requirements aimed at Desert Hawk III operations, which differ in some ways from the requirements for operators of the Group 2-5 UAS. The larger UAS are under strict CAA and international regulations and restrictions; therefore, Desert Hawk III training and certification focuses on safe operations and

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An operator launches an AeroVironment Raven UAV. Training soldiers to use the system requires a two-week course. (Photo AeroVironment)

integration into its operating airspace by soldiers tasked with providing actionable ISTAR to those conducting military operations. At this level, customers want equipment that can be used by operators for whom it is not their sole task as a tool that will increase their utility and efficiency in the field, without detracting from other roles. In order to deliver on this, operation of the UAV itself must be simple with advanced autonomous functions, payloads must be easy to interpret and interfaces must be intuitive. The typical user today a soldier or squad leader is already overburdened with training on a number of technical devices used in field operations, and adding to those training requirements absorbs time that could be better used to train for the threats that actually meet the soldier on the ground, Ole Aguirre, VP of sales and marketing at Prox Dynamics, told UV. By adding a significant capability like the PD-100 PRS [Personal Reconnaissance System] into the CONOPS with low two-day training signature, the user gains a game-changing capability with only a very limited training footprint, allowing soldiers to spend more time on core soldier capabilities and training.

the system to support their CONOPS; field maintenance; target identification techniques; emergency procedures and operations; and data exploitation. In addition to classroom training, students receive several days of field training with actual flight operations, which meets the Royal Artillerys mandated standards of satisfactory flight operations and safe and successful mission employment of the systems before they graduate as qualified operators. Ronen Dan, VP of marketing at Elbit Systems UAS division, told UV that a basic understanding of aviation and the principles of flying, experience in operating personal computers and a basic knowledge of interpreting air images are the fundamental training requirements for its Skylark UAV. Since the operators are coming from the organic unit, customers aim for minimum prerequisites that will permit the standard soldier to become a Skylark operator, he said. And as Skylark is highly autonomous, operated by operators, not by pilots, the basic training duration is three weeks.

nn COMMON APPROACH Elsewhere, Selex ES has developed its range of entry-level UAS around a common architecture and GCS to ensure that operators can switch between different systems including the Asio, Drako and Crex-B with minimal training requirements. The systems can be operated in autonomous, semi-autonomous or fly-direct modes, where the operator controls the system himself. The systems fly by waypoint navigation in autonomous mode, and in the event of a problem during the mission, the UAVs can perform an emergency landing near the last known point such autonomous function is key at the entry level, as it allows the operator to focus on the mission, not the system. Honeywell is one of a number of manufacturers that have focused on VTOL technology to achieve simple CONOPS with its T-Hawk system. It was developed to meet the needs of the small combat unit by providing a rapidly deployable air asset for real-time day/night situational awareness and detailed stand-off surveillance and inspection.

Datrons Aeryon Scout SUAS is designed to be simple to operate. (Photo: Datron)

nn KNOWLEDGE IS POWER For the Desert Hawk III, Lockheed Martin trains UK military instructors, who then teach the operators. Training takes approximately nine days for operators and includes safe airspace deconfliction between Desert Hawk operations and other aircraft both manned and unmanned, added Daly. The training also includes safety of flight classes; classroom study of flight planning and deployment of
Volume 18 Number 5 | October/November 2013 | UNMANNED Vehicles


The goal of the T-Hawk programme was to develop a robust but lightweight, manportable system that was field-sustainable and could operate in a wide range of weather conditions, said Bob Olson, director of product marketing at the company. T-Hawks advanced VTOL and hover-and-stare capabilities were essential in meeting those needs. This simplicity is also extended to logistics support. For the T-Hawk, this means that its requirements consist of readily available consumables such as gasoline, with a focus on ease of maintenance.

Similar to the Raven, Elbits Skylark requires just a two-week training programme for operators. (Photo: Elbit Systems)

nn DESIGN GOALS Similarly, Prox Dynamics PD-100 PRS is designed to fulfil simple CONOPS and meet demand for a robust, lightweight, hi-tech elevated sensor that could increase situation awareness at a low echelon level within a combat unit. The goal was to find the best design of both an aircraft and a complete system to enable safe flight across all environments, and at the same time keep signature and weight as low as possible VTOL is an important element of this. The system is ready to use in less than two minutes, enabling a very small helicopter to quickly be launched from the operators hand, and from there be directed manually or by using waypoints to a point or route of interest, Aguirre told UV. The autopilot takes care of the flying, the operator simply has to watch the display in order to determine and control height, speed, position and direction of the helicopter. After 25 minutes flight time, the helicopter returns and lands, and less than two minutes later you have the next helicopter in the air ready to support your mission. The PD-100 also has virtually no logistical footprint. The complete system with display weighs just over 1kg and can easily be carried by an individual soldier as part of their standard kit. It can also power up using any kind of energy source the soldier may have to hand, allowing constant readiness of the system. The Aeryon Scout SUAS also benefits from a VTOL design that gives the user a good observation perspective, allowing it

T-Hawk imagery is typically used for route clearance and over-the-hill, immediate surveillance requirements. (Image: Honeywell)

to hover and stare rather than needing to circumnavigate a target. Its built-in autonomy and counter-rotating blades also enables the system to withstand strong gusts of wind during flight. The utilisation of Scout and the newgeneration SkyRanger is simple pull it out of a backpack, and before you hit that village or send a convoy down that road, send the UAV out first to see whats going on, Christopher Barter, programme manager at Datron, told UV. It is designed so that the user literally clicks a point on a map and the UAV will fly there its easy to use and intuitive in order to make it as easy as possible on the soldier whos got 20 other things to do all at once.

ideaForge is seeing increasing interest in its Netra VTOL UAV in India because it has focused on ensuring that the system has simple training and operating procedures. In the past few years, the company has garnered interest among organisations that have never used the technology before both military and paramilitary by conducting demonstrations showing how UAVs can be useful for them. In India, UAVs are a very new technology and we have spent a lot of time and effort on showing that our small UAVs are a good testbed for introducing this type of technology into organisations, Amardeep Singh, chief marketing officer at ideaForge, told UV. Offering plug-and-play-type capabilities is very important in a market like this, and we realised early on that the type of person that is going to be using this system in the field is not of high rank, hes going to be soldier-level. And in India, he wont be highly educated, so we had to design a system that meant if he could operate a computer, check an email, he is good to fly we had to make it that simple.

nn NEW MARKETS Keeping all of these elements as simple as possible is of particular importance when it comes to introducing UAV capabilities to new users for the first time. When it comes to new military customers where the budgets arent huge, its an education curve, Barter continued. And as with any new user, the argument to a lot of our developing country customers is that these systems save a ton of money compared to the high cost of using manned assets we ran the numbers on Scout, and if its run every day for four weeks, it has effectively paid itself off.

nn TRAINING COURSE The company is in the process of delivering Netra to the Indian military. The autonomous hovering UAV is designed for short-range missions and requires minimal training time, with its point-and-click graphic user interface requiring little user assistance. According to Singh, the training comprises a seven-day course, and students will be flying by the second day learning to interpret the imagery collected by the sensors is what takes the most time. The way things are building up, India is going to be a good market for SUAS, because they are the easiest and cheapest things to procure, he said. MALE and HALE UAVs are going to take a long time, but these simple UAVs are things that users can introduce easily and as they start seeing results it opens up the market further. UV

UNMANNED Vehicles | October/November 2013 | Volume 18 Number 5


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n August, it was announced that a draft RfP for the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) programme would be launched at the end of September, followed by a final document in the second quarter of 2014. All of the sections of the RfP have been socialised from a technical perspective, and weve had initial dialogue on business strategy, Winter told Unmanned Vehicles. The real sections that they [industry] have not seen, which they will see with the draft, and are acutely interested in, are what we call sections L and M. These are the sections that outline the criteria and instructions on how we will evaluate their proposals. They say what the Department of the Navy values, what we will value over something else, and then how we will go through and evaluate the proposals. So there should not be any surprises. However, Ive been surprised before.

As industry anticipates a draft RfP for the USNs UCLASS programme, RAdm Mat Winter, PEO Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons, explains to Beth Stevenson what potential bidders can expect.
Mr Kendall who is Under-Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics for the final RfP release approval. The UCLASS programme is seeking to develop a UAS by 2020, with Boeing, General Atomics, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman expected to prepare proposals.

nn FLEXIBLE DATES Also referred to as the carrier-based ISR and targeting (ISR&T) UAS programme, the date for the release of the final RfP is said to be flexible, based on a period of assessment from the bidders, followed by an industry day in October/November, which will be utilised to discuss the draft request. We gather all of those inputs and then we will spend the next period of time either considering or incorporating the inputs, to get to the next version of the RfP. With the updated version, I have statutory and policy requirements to take that through my decision chain, up to my boss, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research Development Acquisition, and then up to

nn NEXT STAGE In August, it was announced that all four companies had been awarded $15 million contracts for the air vehicle stage of the programme, ahead of the expected draft RfP for full system development. We have to put realistic timelines together, noted Winter, explaining that technical requirements are absolutely clear to the companies involved, with a two-way dialogue conducted between the military and industry throughout. Even though its part of a system, there will be a new airframe on the flight deck. This means that we will have to be able to incorporate it aboard the aircraft carrier, calculate deck space and manage the flight deck we cant just show up and make them fit us in. He said part of the evaluation and calculation for realising this is new, as is having a hangar bay, flight deck and storage space for not just the air vehicle but the support equipment required to operate it. When I say this is new, its new in that context, Winter affirmed. UCLASS will provide persistent ISR&T with precision strike in and around the carrier strike group, operating at tactically significant distances to provide information for the operational picture. A continual operational picture gives the advantage over manned flight, according to Winter, who explained how UCLASS will take

on the majority of this responsibility from the F/A-18, E-2 and the future F-35. Its not the flexibility or luxury of being able to have something new, its truly identifying an emerging technology suite and being able to put it into a UAS, and being able to see the implementation and integration opportunities in a carrier environment. Regarding the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator effort that has concluded, Winter said that Northrop Grumman was a true industry partner, providing the knowledge and capability along with the navys intellectual capital. My engineers and testers, and their engineers and testers, were sitting down together to write code, come up with algorithms, bend metal and put aircraft together. He described how Northrop Grumman had the capability to manufacture air vehicles, which the navy did not, although data rights were shared along the way, with the aircraft now belonging to the navy. What this technology demonstration generated was a set of functional architectures, interface requirements and specifications, between a control system, a digitised aircraft carrier and an air vehicle, he added. It doesnt matter if its an X-47 or any other air vehicle, those interfaces, algorithms and intellectual property, all of that is packaged up as government-furnished information, and is part of the RfP for the technical requirements that we are going to mandate the UCLASS air vehicle bidders conform to. UV

UNMANNED Vehicles | October/November 2013 | Volume 18 Number 5

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