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Drones crash borders: this is the first of a series of articles that will regularly appear in Armada International, with a view to keeping readers up to speed with events in the fast-moving world of drones and combat drones, also respectively known as UAV's and Ucavs.

EuroHawk: a joint Northrop Grumman-Eads venture aimed at providing Germany with a new elint platform, this programme achieved a significant milestone in late October 2003 when a Global Hawk "borrowed" from the US Air Force landed in Nordholz, northern Germany. It was then fitted with a signals intelligence package developed by Eads and test-flown for several hours. According to Eads, a spot of trouble emerged during one of the early tests when a datalink failure occurred, but, all things having their good side, the incident proved that both the German and American teams could successfully work in unison, resulting in a fast correction of the fault. The 'hale bird' then flawlessly performed its six flights over the Baltic, identifying a variety of electromagnetic signals, including those from radars. This first test phase of the programme should have taken place earlier but was postponed due to the need for the US Air Force to keep all RQ-4As available for its operations, notably in Afghanistan.

Saab and Dassault have signed a memorandum of understanding covering the joint definition for the eventual development of a combat drone. According to Saab, a multiple-nation venture could ensue <<with Dassault Aviation and Saab--being the main participants. Dassault will manage the project as commissioned by the French defence materiel agency, DGA, with Saab as principal partner>>. While Saab has repeatedly displayed a model of its project at various shows, Dassault is already flying a scaled-down version of its Petit Duc. France has earmarked 300 million [euro] to the development of a combat drone.

The Fire Scout has joined the Army. Indeed, Northrop Grumman received an eight-year, $ 115 million contract in late January. Awarded by Boeing and Science Applications International Corporation who are the lead integrators for the FCS programme, the contract covers the development and demonstration phase which entails the manufacture of eight RQ-8Bs, the four-blade rotor version of the Fire Scout unmanned rotorcraft. Thus endowed, the 'B can remain aloft for more than eight hours with a 60-kg payload. Although the Army payload still needs to be defined, Northrop Grumman has already completed fit checks for the installation of two four-pack 2.75-inch General Dynamics APKWS rocket launchers.

SDTI: A French acronym that stands for 'interim tactical drone system', it in fact designates the French Army's new drone system based on the Sperwer from Sagem, which has recently completed its acceptance tests. Importantly, the system demonstrated its ability to be safely inserted into air traffic control-managed airspace. The Sperwer is scheduled to formally equip the Army by mid-2004. Canada has been operating the Sperwer in Kabul since October 2003 as part of the international security and assistance force.
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Title Annotation:Drone update
Author:Biass, Eric H.
Publication:Armada International
Date:Feb 1, 2004
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