Air Force to blend UAV guidance and smart munitions in upcoming weapons experiments

EGLIN AFB, Fla., 10 Nov. 2009. U.S. Air Force researchers plan to blend navigation and guidance technology originally developed for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with smart munitions guidance and control in an upcoming joint technology demonstration.

Nov 10th, 2009

Posted by John Keller

EGLIN AFB, Fla., 10 Nov. 2009. U.S. Air Force researchers plan to blend navigation and guidance technology originally developed for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with smart munitionsguidance and control in an upcoming joint technology demonstration.

Officials of the Air Force Research Laboratory munitions directorate at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., are preparing to award an estimated $500,000 contract to Procerus Technologies in Vineyard, Utah, for autopilot electronics able to fit into a two-cubic-inch space for an upcoming experiment.

Essentially the Air Force wants to determine UAV autopilot technology can enhance the effectiveness of smart munitions. The smart munitions to be involved in these experiments have not been disclosed.

The munitions directorate develops affordable conventional munitions technologies for future air-launched weapons. The Munitions Directorate led development of the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), which applied smart guidance and control technology to "dumb" gravity bombs.

For the future joint technology demonstration, engineers from Procerus Technologies and the Air Force munitions directorate will integrate a variant of the Procerus Kestrel autopilot with vision-based guidance software. The Kestrel autopilot measures 2 by 1.37 by .47 inches and weighs half an ounce.

The Procerus Technologies Kestrel autopilot and Virtual Cockpit ground control software provides autonomous flight control of single or multiple mini and micro UAVs with GPS waypoint navigation and autonomous takeoff, flight, and auto-landing capabilities

The Kestrel autopilot uses an external GPS unit for inertial navigation and wireless modems to communicate between the ground station and autopilot. It can guide UAVs autonomously or receive user commands through the ground station, RC radio, and game pad controllers while providing live video feeds.

It uses three-axis rate gyros and accelerometers for attitude estimation, as well as differential and absolute air pressure sensors for air speed and altitude measurement.

Although the Air Force intends to procure the autopilot from Procerus Technologies, interested companies may submit statements of capability by post no later than 24 Nov. to Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL/RWK), Attn: Dawn Smith, 101 West Eglin Blvd., Suite 337, Eglin AFB FL 32542-6810.

For technical information contact Air Force Lt. Sean Wolf by phone at 850-883-2562, or by e-mail at sean.wolf@eglin.af.mil. For contractual questions contact Air Force contract specialist Dawn Smith by phone at 850-883-2150, or by e-mail at Kimberly.smith@eglin.af.mil.

More information about this contract is online at http://www.fbodaily.com/archive/2009/11-November/11-Nov-2009/FBO-02000563.htm.

For more information contact the Air Force munitions directorate online at www.eglin.af.mil/units/afrlmunitionsdirectorate, or Procerus Technologies at www.procerusuav.com.

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