Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The race is on: Manufacturer sets sights on market for armed drones

From:  Open Channel

COMMENT - Posting from 54 "US Army Tests Manned-Unmanned Aircraft System Integration

Posted on August 31, 2011 by The Editor

The US Army will mount the largest yet demonstration of manned and unmanned aircraft systems interoperability. The manned unmanned systems integration concept (Music) exercise will take place September 15 at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah.

Music will demonstrate new manned-unmanned teaming concepts. These include the use of a universal ground-control station (UGCS) to manage multiple, different UAS platforms, and the ability of a soldier on the ground to steer a UAS sensor payload using the one-system, remote-video terminal (OSRVT). The first iteration of the army’s mini-universal, ground-control stations (M-UGCS) will be rolled out, demonstrating movement toward a common controller for small UAS, including the Aerovironment RQ-11B Raven and Puma AE. The service also plans to demonstrate M-UGCS control of the sensors on a larger General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagle.

Other participating aircraft will be AH-64D Block II Apache and OH-58D Kiowa helicopters and AAI Corp. RQ-7 Shadow and Northrop Grumman MQ-5 Hunter UAS. Music will be “the largest demonstration of interoperability between manned and unmanned systems ever conducted,” Tim Owings, Army deputy project manager for UAS, told the Army News Service. AAI Corp. is the contractor for both the UGCS and the OSRVT.

The truck-mounted UGCS will be used to control the Shadow, Gray Eagle and Hunter. Dismounted soldiers using the OSRVT with new bidirectional data-link can take control of the sensor payloads of these platforms and “steer the payload to where the operator needs to look,” the Army says.

Also to be demonstrated will be the ability of the remote terminal to receive video from the Raven and Puma, as well as the Apache and Kiowa. Under the manned-to-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) concept, the Apache can receive UAS sensor video in the cockpit and retransmit video to the ground via the OSRVT. The Kiowa is also capable of re-transmitting video from UAS to the ground, increasing the range of video available to ground troops.

Reportedly, the UAS control segments and mission- and flight-control systems operate off a very secure software platform developed by Green Hills Software of Santa Barbara, Calif. AIN was unable confirm this, although Green Hills did introduce an autonomous-vehicle, open-software platform at the recent Unmanned Systems North America conference.

Source: AIN Online

 So, Green Hills is providing software from other countries around the world who want drones of their own following the classical pattern from banking and munitions dealers of selling to both sides.  And, rest assured, their profits are going up, up, up.  How long until the hacking begins?  


Mike Odendaal / Denel Dynamics
A Seeker 400 drone, manufactured by South African company Denel Dynamics, flies over Cape Town Stadium.
On a sprawling complex just outside Pretoria, South Africa, a government-owned arms manufacturer is preparing to test an armed drone that it hopes to begin selling soon to governments around the world.

The company, Denel Dynamics, says the armed version of the Seeker 400, which will carry two laser-guided missiles, will enable so-called opportunistic targeting at a range of up to about 155 miles.
“These are not combat systems, they are foremost reconnaissance systems,” Sello Ntsihlele, executive manager of UAV systems for Denel, told NBC News. He added: “(But if) you speak to any general, show him the capability, he will tell you, ‘I want to have munitions.’”
The company’s move is but one signal that the era when only a small club of countries possessed weaponized drones is drawing to a close.
Critics say the coming proliferation of the lethal remote-controlled flying machines will forever change the face of counterterrorism operations and, eventually, warfare itself – and not for the better.
“The U.S. has set a moral precedent,” said Jenifer Gibson of the human rights group Reprieve. "A state can declare someone a terrorist and just go out and kill them."
Reprieve campaigns against what it calls illegal drone strikes.
Supporters of military drones argue that they are an essential tool against terrorists hiding in remote areas and that their ability to strike with precision minimizes civilian casualties. Reprieve rejects the notion that drones are precision weapons and claims many civilians have been killed.

Who has drones — and who wants themOnly three countries are known to currently operate armed unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, as drones are technically known -- the U.S., the U.K. and Israel -- according to a recent report by the think tank RUSI. The report suggested there are only currently around 1,000 armed drones worldwide.


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