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Quad A 2011: USSOCOM cut short Belize FOPEN evaluation

20th April 2011 - 11:21 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


The US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) elected to end its evaluation of Boeing's A160T Hummingbird and DARPA's Foliage Penetration Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Tracking and Engagement Radar (FORESTER) payload following an 'incident' with the UAS last year.

A USSOCOM spokesman has told Shephard that there was 'no plan to return' following the incident which occurred on 4 September, following issues with the tail rotor. Up until this point, the aircraft had completed a total of 28 flights in 24 days in Belize as part of an evaluation programme.

'The team completed 90-95 percent of the test objectives for that evaluation. The mission was to test both the ability of the FORESTER to detect movement in a multiple canopy jungle and the rotorcraft's flight performance in a tropical environment.

'It was determined that the remaining objectives could be accomplished at another time. So, the evaluation in Belize ended when the incident occurred,' he continued.

However, Boeing's manager of advanced development Mansik Johng said that the company would continue to progress on supporting USSOCOM activities and described a number of 'structural changes' which had been made to the aircraft following the incident.

Speaking to Shephard at the Quad A annual exposition in Nashville, Johng said: 'We are talking to get flight clearance back. Any day now we will have approval to fly again.'

The FORESTER payload was designed to provide 'enhanced coverage of moving vehicles and dismounted troops under foliage, filling the current surveillance gap,' according to Boeing officials. Before deploying to Belize, A160T had been tested at Fort Stewart where its longest flight had seen it complete close to a six-hour mission.

The Shephard News Team


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