You come across a lot of interesting stories when you follow the aerospace industry, including these gems about unmanned aerial systems. One was about the Russian military unveiling a drone that can carry anti-tank rocket launchers and flamethrowers.
The drone was developed by the United Instrument Manufacturing Corporation, a subsidiary of the civil and military technology firm Russian Technologies State Corporation. But here's the part that really jumped out. The human role in the management of the robots has been minimized, according to the article. A squadron of the drones is capable of working autonomously. (Story) For you sci-fi fans, that's certainly food for thought.
Another drone story that warrants mention, in the United States DARPA has had some success with its Fast Lightweight Autonomy program, designed to create algorithms to allow small drones to maneuver through cluttered spaces autonomously, and quickly.
The sensor-loaded quadcopters were tested in a cluttered hangar in Massachusetts, and did manage to edge their way around obstacles and achieve their target speeds of 20 meters per second, or 45 mph. These drones would help military teams patrolling dangerous urban environments and rescue teams responding to disasters such as earthquakes. It would help knowing the dangers inside before sending in soldiers or rescuers. (Story)
Finally, another article points out that earth and environmental scientists have often had to rely on piloted aircraft and satellites to collect remote sensing data, platforms that have traditionally been controlled by large research organizations or regulatory agencies.
But thanks to the improving affordability and technological advances of drones, these scientists can now conduct their own long-term high-resolution experiments at a fraction of the cost of using aircraft or satellites. (Story)
I mention these stories in part because the Gulf Coast aerospace corridor has a high-degree of interest in the development of unmanned aerial systems. Northrop Grumman does some of the work on two large UAVs, the Fire Scout unmanned helicopter and fixed-wing Global Hawk, in Moss Point, Miss., and the military bases in our region fly UAVs. We also have the Gulf Unmanned System Center in Carrabelle, Fla.
Now for your Gulf Coast aerospace corridor week in review:
For the second week in a row we've had a private plane crash in the Gulf Coast region. This week, two people died when their Piper Archer crashed near Destin, Fla. The plane was registered to Texas-based Electrical Training. The two victims were identified as James Shumbert, 67, and passenger Sheryl Roe, 60, both of Alvin, Texas. (Post)
Last week, two people died after a Cessna crashed near Mobile Regional Airport, Ala., while returning after taking a patient to Baton Rouge, La. The victims were David R. Mauritson of Fairhope, Ala., and Phil J. Dryden of Gulf Shores. (Post)
On a much happier note, a company that specializes in final assembly line technologies is setting up shop at the Mobile Aeroplex. Broetje Automation's M-Technologie division will provide equipment design and support and final assembly technologies for the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility.
The company specializes in small tools, line side equipment, and processes required for the final assembly of aircraft. M-Technologie is a division of Broetje Automation, which specializes in production processes in the aviation and aerospace industry. It has 650 workers at sites in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, China and in the United States, Buffalo, N.Y., Charleston, S.C., and Wichita, Kan. (Post)
There were two contracts awarded to Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, during the week in connection with the F-35. In both cases the contracting authority is the Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md. As you know, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center and an F-35 reprogramming lab.
In one award, Lockheed Martin was an $81.4 million contract for requirements decomposition and development of Block 4 modernization program capabilities in support of the F-35A/B/C aircraft. This contract includes new and upgraded capabilities to provide enhancements and continuous improvements to maintain viability against evolving threats, reduce life cycle costs, and improve operational suitability.
Work will be done in Fort Worth and is expected to be completed in May 2017. This contract combines purchases for the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and non-U.S. DoD participants. (Post)
In the other award, the company was awarded a $47 million delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement. This order provides for non-recurring effort and integration tasks required to operate a hardware-in-the-loop laboratory used to build, modify, verify and validate, and distribute mission data file sets for the F-35.
This contract will deliver modification kits to upgrade the RC West Block 3i Verification Validation Station to the Block 3F, 3F+, and 3F Digital Channelized Receiver/Technique Generator and Tuner Insertion Program configurations, and provide engineering support during the installation and integration of the modification kits, verification and validation test venue support in support of the F-35A aircraft for the governments of Japan and Israel, under the Foreign Military Sales program.
Work will be done in Fort Worth, Texas; Orlando, Fla.; Nashua, N.H.; El Segundo, Calif.; and San Diego, Calif. (2 percent), and is expected to be completed in September 2021. (Post)
GLO, a public charter airline launched in New Orleans last November, will add a seasonal non-stop service to Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Fla. in March. The flight brings Louis Armstrong International Airport's list of non-stop destinations to 53 cities total. GLO is scheduled to begin Friday, Saturday and Sunday flights from New Orleans to Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport on March 25. The service will run through Sept. 5. (Post)
The Blue Angels Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron helped kick off the 2016 Super Bowl with a flyover at the Stadium. The Blue Angels' six-jet Delta formation soared over more than 70,000 spectators at the stadium following the national anthem. The Blue Angels are based at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. For the 2016 air show season the team is scheduled to fly 65 demonstrations at 33 locations throughout North America. It’s the team's 70th anniversary this year. (Post)
Raytheon Missile Co., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $27.2 million modification to a previously awarded contract to provide life of type buys and obsolescence components under the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) Lots 28-30 production. Work will be done in Tucson and is expected to be complete by Jan. 31, 2017. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Reliance Test & Technology, Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded a $150.2 million contract for Eglin Operation and Maintenance Services support. Contractor will provide engineering and technical services necessary to operate the 96th Test Wing’s ranges and facilities in order to support the research, development, test and evaluation of weapon systems, subsystems, and components. Work will be done at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; and Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., and is expected to be complete by March 31, 2018. Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity.