Sunday, July 24, 2011

"Yellow Jacket" flies ...

Aviation Week ARES BLOG:

Posted by Amy Butler at 7/22/2011 12:42 PM CDT

Boeing is apparently developing a new fused intelligence system called the "Yellow Jacket" for potential use in the insurgent fight in Afghanistan.

Army Lt. Col. Dean Hoffman, product manager for the service's Medium-Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System, mentioned today in a telecon with reporters on the Boeing-led Emarss program that the company's work on this Yellow Jacket had provided lessons.

Yellow Jacket first flew July 13, and another nine flights are slated in the coming weeks. It is thought the program may be a rotorcraft designed to carry a payload capable of fusing multiple intelligence systems -- such as Masint, sigint and imint. But, I haven't gotten official confirmation of the program or its mission.

Perhaps the buzz at Boeing isn't just around the Hornet family (sorry ... a bad joke was begging to be made).

Meanwhile, Hoffman formally announced the Army's June 16 decision to lift the stop work order on Boeing's $323 million Emarss contract. Originally issued in November, the past nine months have been consumed by protests from losing bidders L-3 Communications, Lockheed Martin/Sierra Nevada and Northrop Grumman.

The GAO's final decision can be found here.

The original Emarss program called for fielding the first aircraft 18 months after contract award; nearly nine months have passed owing to the protests. Hoffman says they are reassessing how soon they can get the aircraft fielded, but he is hoping to deliver the soldiers a "Christmas present in the late 2012/early 2013 time frame."

Note: Yellow Jacket is suspected to be a drone designed to help detect improvised explosive devices.

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