The Air Force Research Lab tested the Arcturus T-16 unmanned aerial vehicle May 7 during the Northern Edge 2008 exercise at the Pacific Alaska Range Complex to gauge its ability to autonomously track ground targets and provide real-time imagery that can be used for targeting. “We’ve done complete tracking of target vehicles where the aircraft is controlled by the tracking algorithm [and] we don’t have to do any man-in-the-loop intervention,” said Capt. Samuel Hart, AFRL’s unmanned services program manager. “We tell it to track the vehicle and it auto-tracks and follows it around corners, turns, behind trees, and things like that,” he added. Arcturus-UAV is a company based in Rohnert Park, Calif., about 50 miles north of San Francisco. The T-16 can carry electro-optical and infrared cameras as well as communications payloads, Red Jenson, the company’s chief pilot, told the Daily Report. Carrying a 10-pound payload, the T-16 can fly around 16 hours. It could also carry mini munitions, such as the Spike missile that the Navy has been developing. Arcturus’s approach is to provide “straightforward good flying platforms” that are modular and highly adaptable, Jensen said. The company’s UAVs are in use with research labs across the services, he said. (Includes Eielson report by USMC Sgt. Rocky Smith)
The Air Force isn’t giving up on its long-frustrated efforts to retire older aircraft, as the department’s leader continues to talk with lawmakers about plans to free up funds for its modernization efforts, Undersecretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones said Nov. 30.