THAAD Radar Tracks Two Missiles During Test

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) used the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) radar to successfully track two incoming ballistic missile targets during a recent test, according to a MDA news release issued July 11.

The June 17 test demonstrated the integration of the THAAD radar with the system’s command and control equipment against live targets. The radar sensor also provided data to a simulated interceptor, according to the news release. MDA plans to conduct a booster flight test of the THAAD missile at some point later this year.

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Army Establishes UAV Office at Fort Rucker

The U.S. Army established an office at Fort Rucker in Alabama to coordinate the service’s work with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), according to a July 15 Army news release.

The Army Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Center of Excellence “will ensure that all Army UAV activities are cohesive, coordinated and in support of current and future warfighting requirements,” according to Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, director of the Army Aviation Task Force at the Pentagon.

The UAV center will include a board of directors featuring representatives from the various Army installations that work with UAVs, Schloesser said in the news release. Brig Gen. Edward Sinclair, commander of Fort Rucker, will chair the board.

Members of the Alabama delegation in Congress had encouraged Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker in April to establish the UAV center and place it in their state.

Rep. Terry Everett (R-Ala.), chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, noted in a July 13 news release that UAV work at Fort Rucker as well as the Army Aviation and Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville made Alabama an ideal choice for the center’s location.

“The inherent advantage of UAVs to gather battlefield intelligence and support our military in the field is only beginning to be realized,” Everett said. “Since the Army is likely to be the largest benefactor in the use of this new technology, it is well-served by establishing a UAV Center of Excellence in a region with abundant capability.”

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Students Build Prototype Reconnaissance Blimp

Undergraduate students at Johns Hopkins University recently flew a small-scale prototype blimp that could aid in the development of much larger, more capable vehicles for the U.S. military, according to a Johns Hopkins news release dated July 19. The students built the five-meter long, helium-filled blimp, which flies with the aid of four-propellers, as an engineering design project as part of a course at the Baltimore-based university.

The vehicle can fly autonomously as well as be steered by people on the ground via a wireless remote control. It also features a video camera that can transmit images to the ground from heights up to 15 meters. It cost about $12,500 to build, according to the news release.

The school’s Applied Physics Laboratory, which is based in Laurel, Md., is hoping that the students’ work with the small-scale prototype will help it develop a much larger system called the High Altitude Reconnaissance Vehicle (HARV) that could be launched by a missile or some type of future reusable rocket. The HARV is envisioned as loitering at an altitude around 30 meters for several weeks at a time, according to the news release.

Officials at the Applied Physics Laboratory asked the students to build the small-scale prototype to help refine concepts for the HARV’s guidance, navigation and control systems, according to the news release. Lab officials are hoping to gain sponsorship for the construction of the full-scale prototype from the Pentagon before setting a date for a possible flight demonstration.

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