Saturday, October 3, 2009
Video Sharing: "The NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A) in Brussels and The Hague today announced that it awarded a contract to Lockheed-Martin UK Integrated Systems and Solutions at the end of September to deliver a full-motion video (FMV) capability for the alliance-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. This will allow NATO to share moving images acquired by unmanned aerial vehicles among alliance members and non-members.
The NC3A’s objective is to have an initial operational capability 12 weeks after contract award. By that date, the intention is for ISAF to have two sites for the distribution, storage, archive and retrieval (DSAR) of FMV throughout Afghanistan. This will be followed by a full operational capability with an unspecified additional number of DSAR sites in 2010. DSAR will process the large amounts of data required to display moving images continuously without distortion.
Paul Lee, the NC3As project manager for the FMV DSAR contract, said FMV is to ISAFs current video-sharing capability what high-definition cable TV with a wide range of international programs is to standard definition TV with a limited number of terrestrial channels.
NC3A expects FMV to help detect insurgents and improvised explosive devices and to reduce civilian casualties."
Vulture Heads for
Full-Scale Demo: "Improbable as it sounded when first kicked off, DARPAs Vulture program to demonstrate technology for an unmanned aircraft able to stay aloft, uninterrupted, for at least five years is finally moving into Phase 2 - flight demonstration of a vehicle that will be the size of the objective system, but with an endurance of a minimum 30 days - long enough to show it can stay on station at extreme latitudes through the winter solstice, when sunlight is at its minimum.
Concept: Lockheed Martin (click on image to enlarge)
Aurora Flight Sciences, Boeing/Qinetiq and Lockheed Martin completed Phase 1 conceptual design work, and Vulture had been expected to progress to the next phase before now. But Aurora threatened to protest when it was not selected, and DARPA decided to re-open Phase 2 to competition.
The goals of the new $155 million 'Vulture II' program include flying a full-scale demonstrator with the same wing span and aeroelastic responses as the objective system. That's important because, as the in-flight disintegration of NASA's Helios solar-powered long-endurance UAV in 2004 showed, maintaining the integrity of large lightly-loaded structures is a technical challenge.
DARPA expects bidders to propose solar-electric UAVs, as studied in Phase 1, The Vulture demonstrator goals are to carry a 200lb, 1kW payload for a minimum 30 days (objective 90+ days), and keep station by maintaining a minimum westerly airspeed of 28m/s through the winter solstice at a design latitude of 35deg. The objective system would carry a 1,000lb, 5kW payload and stay aloft for 5-10 years at latitudes up to 40-45deg.
Concept: Aurora Flight Sciences (click to enlarge)
Phase 1 concepts included Aurora's Odysseus - three UAVs that dock in flight to form a single vehicle that assumes a Z-wing shape during the day, to maximize solar-energy capture, and folds flat at night, to minimize drag and preserve battery power. Boeing's design is essentially a scaling up of Qinteq's Zephyr, while Lockheed's is designed to be carried aloft under a balloon and released."