Will Submarine-Hunting Sonobuoys Be Next to Leach onto the Drone Frenzy?

by Richard Sterk, Electronic Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Guardian maritime with sonobuoy capability.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Guardian maritime with sonobuoy capability.

The SSQ-955 HIDAR, produced by Ultra Electronics, first made inroads into the sonobuoy market through its ability to combat the ambient noise levels of coastal waters. This feature made it an attractive item for littoral conflicts.  Also, the SSQ-955’s several adaptable variants and low to average cost are features that could motivate budget-conscious defense departments to procure the system and award replenishment contracts.  Continue reading

Germany’s UAV Selection Is Likely Boon for Israeli Sensor Manufacturers

by C. Zachary Hofer, Electronics Analyst, Forecast International.

RAAF Heron UAV

Heron UAV

The announcement that Germany would pursue the lease of Heron TP (Eitan) unmanned air vehicles for an interim medium-altitude, long-endurance requirement could mean good things for Israeli sensor manufacturers. On January 12, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen announced that the country would pursue Israel Aerospace Industries’ UAV over the rival MQ-9 Reaper offered by General Atomics. So, Germany not only selected an Israeli aircraft over an American one; it is also likely to go with an Israeli electro-optical/infrared system and radar. Continue reading

In the Future, the MQ-4C Triton Will Use Radar to Autonomously Avoid Crashing

by C. Zachary Hofer, Electronic Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

MQ-4C Triton (Source: U.S. Navy)

MQ-4C Triton (Source: U.S. Navy)

Under the terms of a $39.1 million modification to a pre-existing contract, Northrop Grumman will continue the process of remedying the MQ-4C Triton’s troubled sense-and-avoid, air-to-air radar subsystem.  The radar, once operable, will allow the unmanned aerial vehicle to autonomously sense and avoid other aerial objects, giving the platform true “drone” capabilities. Continue reading

Paris Air Show Promises to be Biggest Ever, and Heralds a Return of the U.S. Military

By Ray Jaworowski, Senior Aerospace Analyst, Forecast International.

bi_d_m-300x215The Paris Air Show is the world’s largest aerospace trade show, and organizers say that the 2015 event will host 2,260 exhibitors from 47 countries, surpassing the record 2,215 exhibitors hosted in 2013.

One of the highlights of the 2015 exhibition will be the return of the U.S. military, which skipped the 2013 Paris show due to sequestration-related budgetary issues.  A large static display of several U.S. military aircraft and rotorcraft is planned for the 2015 show, including a possible last hurrah at Paris for the A-10 close air support aircraft, which the U.S. Air Force has been trying to retire against the wishes of Congress.  One notable absence will be the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is not scheduled to make the trip to Paris.  None of the U.S. military aircraft are slated to perform in the show’s daily flying display. Continue reading

U.S. Navy the Clear Winner in Senate Armed Services Committee Markup

by Shaun McDougall, International Military Markets Analyst, Forecast International.

CVN 73 Carrier Strike Group (Source: US Navy)

CVN 73 Carrier Strike Group (Source: US Navy)

The U.S. Navy came out as the clear winner in the Senate Armed Services Committee’s markup of the FY16 defense authorization bill, receiving funding for additional aircraft, ships, and weapons. The results were more mixed for the Air Force and Army. The legislation, approved by the SASC on May 14 by a vote of 22 to four, supports the president’s budget request level of $612 billion for the Department of Defense and security programs in the Department of Energy. That level exceeds current defense budget caps, so the committee provides an additional $38 billion in the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account, which is not subject to spending limits. This move mirrors the GOP budget resolution, as well as the House’s version of the FY16 defense policy bill.

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The Proliferating Small Drone

By Ray Peterson, VP, Research & Editorial, Forecast International.

IMG_1350 (Medium)With the Unmanned Systems 2015 Conference & Trade Show in full swing, I’ve noticed a difference between this year’s event and the one that took place last year in Orlando. Specifically, a proliferation of relatively small drones featuring four, six or even eight electric-powered rotors have popped up at many booths. The versatility of these increasingly ubiquitous air vehicles cannot be overstated and explains their popularity. Applications are limited only by one’s imagination, and extend to real estate property overview (inside and outside a house), law enforcement, aerial survey work, movie production, and disaster relief, to name only a few.

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Military Drone Market Slows, but Value Not Dropping

by Larry Dickerson, Unmanned Vehicles Analyst, Forecast International.

RQ-4B Block 30 Global Hawk (Source: Northrop Grumman)

RQ-4B Block 30 Global Hawk (Source: Northrop Grumman)

Despite all the talk about commercial unmanned air vehicles (UAVs), the unmanned aircraft system (UAS) market remains dominated by military customers.  Although overall production is falling, the value of this market continues to grow.

The UAS market has seen a remarkable transformation over the last 12 years.  This radical change occurred in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent global war on terror launched by the United States and its allies.

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A Rose by Any Other Name

By Ray Peterson, VP, Research & Editorial, Forecast International.

AUVSI 2015

Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International 2015

It’s called the Unmanned Systems 2015 Conference & Trade Show, “Powered by AUVSI”(Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International), so I get it — vehicles of all sorts whose operation doesn’t require a person to physically occupy them. The ones that crawl or roll along the ground are called unmanned ground systems, while the vehicles operating on or under water are described as unmanned surface vehicles or unmanned underwater vehicles. Fair enough. How to describe the objects that land on the White House lawn or buzz the Eiffel Tower, or more recently defaced a New York billboard, is an entirely different matter. From what I’ve heard while walking the huge Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, drone is becoming the de facto nom de guerre.

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Commercial UAV Market: Will Sales Match the Lofty Forecasts?

by Larry Dickerson, Unmanned Vehicles Analyst, Forecast International.

Lockheed Martin's Indago VTOL Quad Rotor (Source: Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin’s Indago VTOL Quad Rotor (Source: Lockheed Martin)

Despite the recent fascination with unmanned air vehicles, the market for commercial UAVs has been around for a long time.

Anyone who has walked through a mall has seen someone demonstrating a small remotely controlled helicopter.  These UAVs are very simple and relatively inexpensive, but are part of product lines that offer far more sophisticated systems.

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EISS & ASIP Endure, in Turbulent Air

by Zachary Hofer, Forecast International. 

RQ-4B Block 30 Global Hawk (Source: Northrop Grumman)

RQ-4B Block 30 Global Hawk (Source: Northrop Grumman)

The EISS and ASQ-230 ASIP are living in tumultuous times. Northrop Grumman’s Enhanced Integrated Sensor Suite (EISS) and ASQ-230 Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload (ASIP) make up the two primary electronics systems on board the U.S. Air Force’s RQ-4B Block 30 Global Hawk unmanned air vehicle (UAV). They are expensive and they require constant RDT&E funding in order to stay relevant. While the EISS has the benefit of being fitted to international-spec Block 30s, the ASQ-230 ASIP, containing far more sensitive intelligence technologies, has been deleted globally. The ASIP does hold one advantage over the EISS, however, in that it has also been specified for another, even more rarified application: the U-2 spy plane.

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