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Source: Kurt Barnhart, 785-826-2872,
News release prepared by: Natalie Blair, 785-826-2642,

Thursday, June 4, 2009


SALINA -- A grant from the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research in Arlington, Va., will help the department of aviation at Kansas State University at Salina develop mission planning for its unmanned aerial systems program.

The $380,240 grant was awarded in April and runs through March 2012.

K-State at Salina's Applied Aviation Research Center will conduct 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.

"The U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research funding will initially support the unmanned aerial systems program manager as well as the addition of four full-time professional positions and three part-time positions for K-State at Salina students," Barnhart said. "We will establish an Unmanned Aerial Systems Technology Evaluation Center to include the mission planning function. Activity will include mission payload analysis, air vehicle operations and data analytics."

The Technical Evaluation Center will evaluate existing unmanned aerial systems technology and platforms for their suitability in disaster response scenarios and train operators/maintainers. In addition, K-State's unmanned aerial systems program office will set up an advanced avionics miniaturization program in conjunction with private industry, Barnhart said.

K-State at Salina established the Applied Aviation Research Center in March 2008. The center, which Barnhart directs, began as a cooperative venture of K-State at Salina, the Salina Airport Authority and the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce. Since it was founded, the center has attracted nearly $650,000 in private industry and government funding, and anticipates $4.5 million in additional 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 at 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 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.