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EXCLUSIVE: Boeing Jumpstarts UAV Division

Truly, the hottest focus, the biggest buzz at the Paris Air Show this year is unmanned this and unmanned that. The latest proof -- Boeing, eager to find new profit centers for its Integrated Defense Systems unit, will unveil a new unmanned division here tomorrow.

IDS currently includes Boeing Military Aircraft, Network and Space Systems, and Global Services & Support, as well as the tanker program unit and its nifty Phantom Works. Now they will have a single division to oversee programs such as the Hummingbird.

We don't have many details yet but it would make sense for Boeing to centralize their engineering, marketing and business development functions for this sort of program. Although UAS range widely in size, complexity and capability they share common problems and approaches. One of the most interesting things to watch is how Boeing will treat the data networks that tie UAS to the warfighter. Will these continue to be stove-piped or will the company push to build single data standards or common links as much as possible.

UPDATED below with details of who will run the division and what programs it will oversee:

The division will oversee the A160T Hummingbird, Unmanned Little Bird and SolarEagle (Vulture) programs. A company that Boeing bought last year, Insitu., will report to the new division. Insitu is a wholly owned Boeing subsidiary and it makes the ScanEagle and Integrator UAS systems.

Vic Sweberg is director of the new division. He reports to Chris Chadwick, president of Boeing Military Aircraft. Ground and underwater unmanned vehicles stay where they are.

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