Tuesday, 24 September 2013

USAF and Navy testing Unmanned Aircraft and Helicopter

USAF and Navy testing Unmanned Aircraft and Helicopter

The U.S. Air Force began demonstrating the next generation of air combat training and testing aircraft last week, completing the first flight of a converted F-16 jet with no pilot in the cockpit. 
(QF-16 takes off remotely piloted at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. Photo, courtesy of Master Sergeant J. Scott Wilcox.)
The QF-16 Full Scale Aerial Target, a retired F-16 jet modified to fly as an unmanned aircraft system (UAS), completed a series of simulated maneuvers, including supersonic flight, prior to landing autonomously. The QF-16 is the result of a 2010 $70 million Department of Defense (DoD) contract awarded to Boeing to convert six early-generation F-16 jets into full-scale aerial targets. 
To convert the F-16 to a remotely piloted aircraft, Boeing installs new electronic control equipment that allows the jet to be operated via data links from a ground control station. 
“It was a little different to see it without anyone in it, but it was a great flight all the way around,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ryan Inman, commander, 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron. “It’s a replication of current, real world situations and aircraft platforms they can shoot as a target. Now we have a 9G capable, highly sustainable aerial target.”
By converting retired F-16 jets to the QF-16 configuration, Boeing allows fighter pilots to train against actual fighter jets with live weapons. The development could also lead to production of unmanned fighter jets remotely piloted from the ground. 

Navy's First MQ-8C Unmanned Helicopter Completes Ground Testing

The U.S. Navy's first MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter completed ground testing and engine runs during its initial testing Friday at Naval Base Ventura Country Point Mugu, Calif. 
(MQ-8C Fire Scout at Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu, Calif., on Sept. 20 to prepare the system for flight operations. Photo, courtesy of Northrop Grumman.)
Northrop Grumman engineers powered up the aircraft's rotor blades for the first time Friday, as the company looked to collect enough data to ensure the Scout's systems are functioning properly ahead of its upcoming first flight. 
"Completion of these tests signifies our steady progress toward the first flight of the MQ-8C Fire Scout," said George Vardoulakis, vice president of medium range tactical systems at Northrop Grumman.
(Northrop Grumman test engineers conduct the first engine runs of the MQ-8C Fire Scout. Photo, courtesy of Northrop Grumman.)
The US Navy currently has the company under contract to produce an MQ-8C for deployment beginning next year. According to a spokesperson for Northrop Grumman, the first flight of the MQ-8C is scheduled for October.  

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