The UK and France have announced a £1.54bn project to build a prototype of the Future Combat Air System. The next-generation UAV programme builds on the successful £120m joint feasibility study undertaken after the last UK- France Summit in 2014. With full scale development of prototypes set to begin in 2017, Claire Apthorp takes a look at the requirements for the UAV and ask what the two countries are hoping to gain from it.
While the sun made a very welcome appearance at Le Bourget for this year’s Paris Air Show, big ticket sales of military aerospace equipment did not. Sales were markedly dominated by Airbus and Boeing on the commercial side, with military sales – and even the big defence players themselves – significantly fewer and farther between that ever before.
On 27 December, the US Army’s newest aerial surveillance asset took to the skies over Maryland on the US East Coast. Talk to the army, and JLENS is a tethered aerostat that floats 10,000ft in the air carrying powerful radar systems to provide defensive radar coverage over an area roughly the size of Texas; talk to the sceptics, and JLENS is a giant ‘spy blimp’, being launched into the skies above Washington DC to the detriment of personal privacy. So – which is it? Claire Apthorp reports.
Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) have already transformed military operations but an ambitious new project from DARPA could take the capability even further by deploying a cooperative, connected, mother ship-launched swarm. Claire Apthorp reports on the significant progress already made in the quest to launch UAV inspired ‘aircraft carriers in the sky’.
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Over the years BAE Systems has produced many of the most iconic and game changing defence technologies but not all have made it past the drawing board. To celebrate the opening of a new heritage centre the company has released an astounding series of retro-designs.
The unmanned aerial systems industry remains strong, as it adapts to support the requirements of global armed forces. Berenice Baker talks to BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Elbit Systems about their latest developments and how they work with the military to fulfil their needs.