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Source: Kurt Barnhart, 785-826-2872,
Photo available. Contact or 785-532-2535.
News release prepared by: Natalie Blair, 785-826-2642,

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


SALINA -- A second grant from the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research in Arlington, Va., will help the department of aviation at Kansas State University Salina continue developing mission planning, operations and a disaster training center for its unmanned aerial systems program.

The $2.76-million grant was awarded in June and runs through May 2013.

K-State Salina's Applied Aviation Research Center will do the work through its unmanned aerial systems program office, according to Kurt Barnhart, head of the department of aviation and the grant's principal investigator.

"This second phase of funding allows us to continue our plan by establishing basic UAS operational capability," Barnhart said. "The first phase focused on establishing the processes and procedures for UAS evaluation on behalf of the Kansas National Guard. This funding from the Air Force provides the personnel and equipment to pursue our mission. Projects include developing auto-flight capability, sensor integration for intelligence gathering, airport wildlife mitigation research and wireless power transmission research."

Part of the grant will be used for unmanned aerial vehicle platforms, including an Aerosonde 4.7, a Wolverine 3 helicopter and multiple other platforms for training and search and rescue.

K-State Salina established the Applied Aviation Research Center in March 2008. The center, which Barnhart directs, began as a cooperative venture of K-State Salina, the Salina Airport Authority and the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce. Since it was founded, the center has attracted more than $3 million in private industry and government funding, and anticipates another $6 million in funding related to future activities based on applications in process.

The center's charter is to advance aerospace technology through the application of research capabilities in propulsion, airframe, avionics and aviation training. The center's unmanned aerial systems programs office partners closely with military organizations and the private sector to focus on developing unmanned flight in the nation's airspace and training unmanned system pilots and operators.

Barnhart said K-State Salina's unmanned aerial system capability revolves around three key areas: operational policies and standards; advanced avionics miniaturization; and unmanned aerial vehicle education and training.

K-State Salina is establishing criteria for unmanned aerial system flight operations, including activity at the National Guard's nearby Smoky Hill Weapons Range and eventually at the Herington unmanned aerial system flight facility. The program office establishes policies and procedures to enable both military and civilian organizations to fly and test at local facilities, Barnhart said.