ROADMAP The US Department of Defense's latest 25-year roadmap for unmanned systems calls for better integration between services and agencies, and for the systems to become more autonomous, standardised and interoperable. The 2007-32 roadmap also calls for architecture improvements in controls, communications and data products to allow a broader base of users access to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information collected by unmanned systems. The latest roadmap is the first to include unmanned land and sea systems, as well as unmanned air vehicles.


Mission NASA has selected the $375 million Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) robotic mission for launch in 2011 to analyse the interior structure and gravitational forces of the Moon. Two identical spacecraft built and operated by Lockheed Martin will be placed in low polar lunar orbit to exchange Ka-band ranging signals. The minute differences in the distances travelled by the signals will be analysed to detect gravitational changes over the Moon. The spacecraft will be based on the US Air Force Research Laboratory's XSS-11 technology satellite.


SUPPORT BAE Systems has received a contract to provide expanded support services for the UK Royal Air Force's Panavia Tornado F3 and GR4 fleets, taking the programme's total value to £1.3 billion ($2.6 billion). Launched in December 2006, the Availability Transformation: Tornado Aircraft Contract (ATTAC) also achieved its full service delivery milestone at RAF Marham, Norfolk, last month, shortly after confirmation of the £324 million project expansion, which covers additional avionics equipment and general systems.

FAA to research ADS-B in-cockpit traffic displays

Navigation The US FAA has issued a market survey seeking vendors with expertise in Cockpit Display of Traffic Information (CDTI) systems, equipment the agency says will "support the use of aviation data sources like Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast (ADS-B) for both air- and ground-based flight operations." CDTI is most commonly linked with the advanced navigation and surveillance technologies UPS is certifying for its cargo aircraft at Louisville International Airport.

Capture test demonstrates mid-air spacecraft retrieval technique

RE-ENTRY Spacehab has claimed success in a mid-air retrieval test demonstrating the feasibility of mid-air capture for a variety of applications. A mass simulator was carried by helicopter to an altitude of 5,000ft (1,525m) and then released under a parafoil. The helicopter was then able to capture a drag line being trailed behind the chute, lift the combined mass, collapse the parafoil, and gently place the simulated spacecraft on the ground. By contrast, the Russian Soyuz spacecraft makes a relatively hard landing on solid ground.

MP bids to raise French pilots' retirement age to 65

Labour French pilot campaign group PNT65 is backing a new law proposal which aims to increase French commercial pilots' maximum retirement age from 60 to 65 years in line with International Civil Aviation Organisation norms. A 1997 decree restricts French airline pilots over the age of 60 from operating commercial flights. The rule does not apply to foreign carriers, which can operate services to, over and within France in line with their own national and corporate policies. The proposed new law is expected to be put to parliament by March.

Boeing could put work worth $1 billion into India

Co-operation Boeing could put more than $1 billion-worth of new aerospace manufacturing work to India following an agreement with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Under the agreement, Boeing and HAL will explore business opportunities aimed at transferring work packages to India with an initial value of $10-20 million annually, increasing in size and complexity as business opportunities develop. Boeing also will support HAL in developing manufacturing processes and capabilities needed for the production of hardware for Boeing and/or its subcontractors.

MBDA to lead Franco-British missile research drive

TECHNOLOGY MBDA will lead a consortium driving future missile technology research in Europe under a three-year, €21 million ($30.1 million) innovation & technology programme funded jointly by the UK and French governments. Through the ITP, MBDA will co-ordinate and deliver both UK and French research needs while building up the front-end technology base for a future complex weapons capability in Europe. The aim is to stimulate and develop a portfolio of advanced and potentially disruptive technologies.

Source: Flight International