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Israel is leading the pack so far in volume and capability of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and UAV development with designs that range from the very large Heron family to micro-UAVs. It’s also beginning to acknowledge the poorly kept secret that some of its UAV fleet has precision weapons capability. Raytheon and the Royal Air Force have joined to produce the Sentinel R1 Astor, manned fixed-wing, ground-surveillance aircraft to provide the U.K.'s troops with a moving-target indicator mode for its canoe-mounted, electronically scanned array radar. While the Astor’s operational future is still in the hands of budgeteers, it is giving a sterling performance in Afghanistan.Turkey will have an airborne early warning and control capability with its Boeing 737-based Peace Eagle AEW&C aircraft, while the RAF continues its deployments of the larger E-3D.The RAF is setting the pace for northern Europe’s combat UAV operations in Southwest Asia with its version of General Atomics' turboprop-powered Reaper.1. No. 8 Sqdn. now operates the RAF’s E-3D. In addition to airborne radar surveillance, the aircraft provides electronic signals intelligence data that can be correlated with the targets found by Astor’s ground surveillance. (Credit: Crown Copyright)2. Britain’s Predator B has been fully involved in operations over Afghanistan and the Indian Ocean. Italy’s growing fleet is keeping an eye on illegal immigration. (Photo: Crown Copyright)3. Astor still has undeveloped potential for electronic surveillance, cyber-operations and electronic attack, but budget cutting may end the program’s development. (Photo: Crown Copyright)4. Israel Aerospace Industries/Malat’s yard-long “Ghost” is silent, weighs 9 lb., has a 6-hr. endurance and can cue targets for helicopters and strike aircraft in an urban setting. (Photo: IAI)5. IAI builds its own Shavit airborne signals intelligence (above) and early warning and control aircraft — both designed around Gulfstream airframes. Special missions aircraft also have been exported to Argentina, Chile, Thailand, Singapore and other international customers. (Image: IAI)6. The U.S. Air Force’s E-8C Joint Stars, the first ground-surveillance radar aircraft, supports soldiers in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. Software refinements continue to improve resolution of the aircraft’s electronically scanned radar. (Photo: Northrop Grumman)7. Turkey’s AEW&C is now entering service and will add new capabilities for protection of southern Europe’s borders. (Photo: Boeing)
ar99, ISR, unmanned
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