Wednesday, October 22, 2008

China's Global Hawk, other items of note

Here’s one you might have missed. It should be of high interest to anyone who has been paying attention to the unmanned aerial system activities in the Gulf Coast.

China is developing a new UAV, similar to the Northrop Grumman Global Hawk that's built in part in Moss Point, Miss. It's called the Soaring Dragon. According to Strategy Page, it’s about half the size of the Global Hawk and the maximum altitude will be 57,000 feet.

The Chinese UAV is intended for maritime patrols, as is the Navy's version of the Global Hawk. The Soaring Dragon recently conducted taxi-tests, the first time it was shown to the public. Flight testing will begin next year, and it may enter limited service in two or three years. (Story)

On another Global Hawk topic, Aviation Week reports that the Navy is considering deploying its first Global Hawk to an air base near Iraq to experiment with its ability to conduct maritime surveillance. Navy officials declined to discuss the exact location for a deployment.

Aviation Week says that according to defense officials, the Navy Global Hawk is expected to arrive at a base in the Middle East early next year, where it will be co-located with Air Force Global Hawks.

The Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration vehicle is one of two Block 10 Global Hawks owned by the Navy. They were bought to allow the Navy to experiment with using a UAV for maritime surveillance. The Navy used one of them to collect data when Hurricane Ike hit Texas. (Story)

As regular readers know, our Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor news feed tells you about Defense Department contracts with a Gulf Coast connection. But while looking for those, some interesting ones pop up that have no link here. Still, they're interesting because of the research done in this region - in this case human-machine interface.

Evolved Machines Federal Contracting Inc. of West Palm Beach, Fla., last week was awarded an $8.9 million contract to develop a sensor "inspired by a canine's olfactory system." The idea is to create a machine that can detect odors amid a myriad of odors. And, to allow it to learn over time.

Organizations in six states, Florida, California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland and Illinois, will be involved in the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) project. The completion date is just a few months away – Jan. 14, 2009.

In another DARPA project, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md., is being awarded a $14.3 million modification to a previously awarded cost plus fixed fee, research and development contract to develop a modular design, fully functional 22 degree of freedom prosthetic.

The program's focus is to develop an advanced neurally controlled upper extremity prosthesis capable of restoring full motor and sensory functions, and perform as a native limb to the injured warfighter.

Primary work will be performed in Maryland, and subcontractor facilities as required.

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