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Mark Cherry: Air Force, Aurora Build Small UAS for Afghanistan ISR

Skate field testThe U.S. Air Force has partnered with Aurora Flight Sciences to develop a small unmanned aircraft system for usage in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations in non-combat areas in Afghanistan.

Development work the so-called “urban beat cop” named Skate was backed by funding from the Air Force and U.S. Navy through the Small Business Innovation Research program, the Air Force said Thursday.

Mark Cherry, Aurora CEO, said the company and the Air Force aim to provide ISR functions and situational awareness for small unit operations.

The Air Force says the drone works to facilitate video streaming and infrared imagery in order to help U.S. forces in Afghanistan to remotely monitor villages and other non-combat areas, as well as serve law enforcement officials in similar missions in urban environments.

Aurora and the Air Force have completed field tests to generate feedback that focused on both manually controlled and fully autonomous flight modes and vertical takeoff and landing, among other modifications.

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