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AUVSI: NAVAIR launches cargo resupply QRA

15th August 2011 - 15:00 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


NAVAIR’s Quick Reaction Assessment (QRA) for its Cargo Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Services programme will begin this week, industry sources have confirmed.

Neither Lockheed Martin (LM) nor Boeing, which have submitted the K-Max and A160T Hummingbird VTOL UAVs respectively, would confirm whether any platforms had yet been delivered to Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona for the evaluation. But LM and Kaman Aerospace officials told Shephard that NAVAIR intended to go forward with the QRA in the ‘August timeframe’, adding that Electromagnetic Environment Effects (E3) testing had now been completed at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland.

However, a spokesperson for NAVAIR said the K-Max UAV would begin a five-day QRA this week while the navy works out details with Boeing in preparation of evaluation of the A160 ‘at a later date’.

The QRA is designed to ‘prove sustainment of a cargo-carrying capability in an operational environment’ according to NAVAIR in order to prove an ability to deliver 6,000lb of cargo per day over five consecutive days. After a formal report is released 30 days post-QRA, navy and US Marine Corps leadership will determine system suitability for deployment later in the year, the spokesperson told UV. Industry sources said that the first deployment would most likely be in November.

According to Jim Naylor, LM business development and Terry Fogarty, Kaman Aerospace general manager, E3 testing went ‘well’ and described how the joint venture was currently getting ready for QRA. They added that NAVAIR’s requirement called for the deployment of two air frames to Afghanistan although only a single aircraft from each competitor is required for the QRA. Boeing was unable to provide further comment.

‘There is action to field our capability, Hummingbird or both, dependent on how QRA goes,’ Naylor said while describing its intention to demonstrate platform feasibility in theatre.

‘Unmanned resupply, once demonstrated in theatre, will gain a lot of traction. A lot is riding on a successful QRA and theatre [deployment]. We are confident we’ll do well in the QRA and prove our capability in theatre,’ Naylor concluded.

Meanwhile, the US Army has awarded LM at $47m contract to develop autonomous technology for UAVs in unmanned cargo missions in theatre. Naylor said LM and Kaman would be looking to ‘augment’ capabilities already on the K-Max platform with technology that could ‘enhance’ other UAV missions. He added that such development could also feed into the NAVAIR programme.

The Shephard News Team


The Shephard News Team

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