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Euro UVS Conference: preluding the Salon du Bourget, the three-day Euro UVS conference organised by the Euro UVS President, Peter van Blyenbergh, at the Equinoxe Event Centre in the south of the French capital attracted quite a wide audience.

Apart from presentations made by some manufacturers on their latest programmes and developments, papers covered very hot subjects like airworthiness processes and certification procedures, technical requirements for UAV flight tests, UAVs in network centric warfare, all-weather automatic take-off and landing, micro-UAV applications and so forth.

A large exhibition hall next to the conference room hosted a number of displays and booths. The authors had an opportunity to have quiet 'one-on-ones' with some of the representatives.

ATE from South Africa could hardly be missed, with a delicate scaled-down reproduction of the tactical Vulture system. Lorris Duncker, Director of the company's programme, explained that ATE had been contracted for the acquisition of the Vulture last March and that the delivery of the first Vulture system to the South African Army was scheduled for 2005. The very specific atmospheric launcher has been redesigned and now comes in two parts for ease of transportation. In fact the entire launcher has been reconfigured and now 'opens up' hydraulically and is ready for use within ten minutes. A Vulture system includes two aircraft, a recovery system and an old acquaintance, Ruag's Opats drone homing device. Originally developed for the Swiss Army Ranger, this device scans a portion of the sky in the incoming path of the drone and then narrows its window to pilot the bird down to destination. Destination in the case of the Vulture is a large, but peculiar, net.

The 'atmospheric launcher' (title photo) of the ATE Vulture is quite unique in that it uses a tube in which a piston is allowed to slide. The base of the piston itself is attached to a cable but first in a locked position. A vacuum is then created in the tube and, for release, the piston is unlocked. Under the sucking effect caused by the vacuum (alternatively the atmospheric pressure on the other side) the piston is called back at the other end of the tube. The advantage of the system is that no bungees need replacing (but periodic change of seals) and a more continuous thrust is provided.

Quite apart from offering a safe and smooth recovery of the aircraft, this system is relatively compact--ten metres wide--and can thus be used onboard ships.. The aircraft carries an M-Tek opronic day sight, a new Cbacs digital datalink from ATE-Tellumat. Currently the engine used is a two-stroke 38 horsepower boxer, but a direct injection diesel is being developed, which should provide an extra hour of endurance. Line-of-sight range is 200 kilometres. Similarly, the launcher can be reconfigured for naval applications. Three more systems will follow in the wake of the first one mentioned above. Each system will operate in conjunction with one battery of six G-6 howitzers.

RELATED ARTICLE: Manned/unmanned aerial vehicle.

STN Atlas (now Rheinmetall Defence Electronics) shared a bit of insight to the company's further research into Ucavs by mentioning that one of the major problems with delivering the vehicle to an operating area was that it must either be transported to a ground-controlled area or flown through civil airspace, which is still a no-no for most all UAVs. STN's idea is to utilise manned airframes--certain pristine-condition WWII 'mothballed' aircraft were mentioned--packed with the necessary sensors and guidance equipment, flown by a pilot over normal airspace then operated as a UAV or Ucav once on site. This solution would alleviate many demands on the logistical front, and yet, upon seeing how well the company's KZO surveillance drone packs away one cannot help but assume mat me logistics of packing and shipping a drone is not such an overburdening task after all. (Armada/JK)
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Title Annotation:Shows & Exhibitions
Author:Keggler, Johnny
Publication:Armada International
Date:Oct 1, 2003
Words:601
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