Textron is working on a new ground control system that will be able to switch between its Aerosonde and Shadow unmanned air systems with merely the flick of a switch.
James Hetherington, regional vice-president Middle East operations at Textron Systems, says that the new system should be ready to announce to the market within the next year.
“The new one that we are going to come up with will have a switch where you can go from Shadow to Aerosonde, just by flicking the switch,” he says. This should provide significant cost savings for operators using both platforms.
The company presently produces a ground station that can control a wide range of platforms, and further research and development is going into reducing the size and weight of the system.
“We’re very proud already that our ground control station currently can fly more than just our product. We’re trying to make it so that it is streamlined, smaller and easier to use, and eventually get to a laptop,” says Hetherington.
More developments are also underway, aimed at making it easier for operators in the field to be able to share information from UAVs in a meaningful way to ground forces.
Further innovations are also taking place in the air, with Textron developing remote control capabilities for UAVs from Boeing AH-64E Apaches, under the US Army’s manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-TX) programme.
“The Apache guys are now being fed the feed from the UAVs, so they are now flying the UAV out in front of them,” says Hetherington.
MUM-TX will roll out on the E-model Apache, which he says should provide a global market for the system.