USMC takes official delivery of Reaper UASs

by Gareth Jennings

US Marine Corps personnel control a government-owned and government-operated Reaper unmanned aircraft for the first time in late August. GA-ASO announced the official handover of ownership to the corps on 20 October. (USMC)

The US Marine Corps (USMC) has taken official ownership of two General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9A Reaper medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the manufacturer announced on 20 October.

The transfer of the Block 5 Reapers and their associated equipment was completed from GA-ASI to the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) on 15 October, marking the transition from a contractor-owned contractor-operated (COCO) to a government-owned government-operated (GOGO) model of operation for the corps.


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South Africa admits ‘negative impact' of delayed Gripen negotiations

by Helmoed-Römer Heitman

South Africa's Department of Defence released a statement on 6 December admitting that protracted negotiations on a support contract for the South African Air Force's (SAAF's) Gripen fighters are “negatively impacting on the air defence capability”.

It noted that a “lengthy discussion” has taken place between its procurement agency Armscor and Saab, the Gripen's manufacturer. “Proposals have been presented by both parties and are being reviewed to ensure that the matter is conclusively dealt with,” it said. “The SAAF is confident that a solution will be found to resolve the matter.”

It has been reported that the SAAF's 26 Gripens are now effectively grounded pending an agreement, with some aircraft having already been cannibalised to keep others flying.

The Department of Defence statement did not explain what has held up the negotiations, but similar problems have hit the SAAF's fleet of BAE Systems Hawk jet trainers and the navy's German-built Type 209 submarines.


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Piaggio Aerospace sale stalls

by Charles Forrester

The sale of Piaggio Aerospace has stalled, with the company to reopen to possible bids in the coming weeks. (Piaggio Aerospace/Paul Cordwell)

The sale of Italy's Piaggio Aerospace to an undisclosed buyer has stalled, company officials confirmed to Janes on 7 December.

The company's Extraordinary Commissioner, Vincenzo Nicastro, met with trade union representatives following local press reports that the sale had been “interrupted”. According to Nicastro, no binding offer was received from the unnamed sole bidder. The bidder had been selected in September to begin exclusive negotiations to acquire the company following “long and careful screening”.

“The potential investor made us just aware [of] what the conditions would be for the purchase: these conditions were not consistent with the tender rules they had formally accepted and were linked to events [that were] difficult to realise. In agreement with the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, we decided therefore to start discussions with other parties interested in purchasing the company assets,” Nicastro said in a statement.


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AFRL pursues multispectral threat warning under EOS-DEW

by Richard Scott

The US Air Force has launched an effort to develop and demonstrate prototype advanced integrated threat warning system technologies to address multispectral guided missiles, hostile fire, and directed energy weapon systems.

Led by the Air Force Research Laboratory's (AFRL's) Sensors Directorate, the Electro-Optic Sensing Defensive Electronic Warfare (EOS-DEW) programme is intended to mature integrated multispectral threat warning solutions combining missile sensing, laser sensing, and hostile fire sensing, while also advancing test and developmental risk reduction methodologies. The latter includes exploring new techniques for multispectrum simulation, multithreat simulation, and sensing technology evaluation, together with enhanced testing and evaluation techniques to support research and development.

According to a EOS-DEW call released on 30 November, the diverse nature of the missile threat requires exploiting various sensing techniques and early launch detection, requiring “continual improvements in missile warning sensor architectures, exploiting different portions of the electromagnetic spectrum”.

It continued, “Directed energy threat detection, on the other hand, requires laser detection schemes containing multiple discriminants. The relative fidelity of coherence, wavelength, direction-of-arrival, geolocation, fluence, and pulse processing discriminants is dictated by the threat spaces of interest and drives the complexity of warning sensor architectures to satisfy hand-off requirements for protection countermeasures.”


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The US Marine Corps (USMC) has taken official ownership of two General Atomics Aeronautical Systems ...

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