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.

Afghan militants slammed ...

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- At least 80 militants were killed in a series of operations involving Afghan and NATO forces during a day-long firefight last week in the country's restive southeast, Paktika provincial governor Mukhlas Afghan said Sunday.

NATO said it could only confirm 50 insurgents were killed in the fight.
The operation, which began Wednesday and spanned the night into Thursday, was fought in an "known Haqqani network" area.

The Haqqani network is an insurgent group loosely affiliated with the Taliban and is believed to be based in Pakistan's lawless frontier territories.
The raid included Afghan special forces and engaged "multiple groups of insurgents" who were armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers and heavy machine guns, NATO's International Security Assistance Force reported Friday.

Multiple insurgent groups were holed up in areas that included caves and fortified bunker positions, ISAF said.

Sunday's announcement coincides with formal ceremonies marking the handover of security to Afghan forces in parts of Kabul and Panjshir province.
They are the fifth and sixth areas to be transferred to national forces.


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