UAV Navigation Tests 'Sea-Skimming' Flight Control

 - November 28, 2012, 7:13 PM
A Scrab recoverable aerial target nears a ship in this illustration. (Courtesy UAV Navigation)

UAV Navigation, a developer of flight-control avionics and motion sensors for unmanned aircraft, said it demonstrated its LCAP autopilot system in a “sea-skimming” target UAV designed to mimic the threat of an incoming missile. The flight test of the Scrab aerial target was conducted on a range used by the Spanish navy, in cooperation with Sistemas de Control Remoto, the aircraft’s manufacturer and a supplier to the Spanish armed forces.

The miniature LCAP system leverages microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology and consists of an attitude heading reference system-inertial reference system (AHRS-INS) module that fuses GPS and inertial information, a GPS receiver and antenna, and a flight control central processing unit. Running fifth-generation navigation software, the system is capable of fully automated takeoff, flight plan following and landing.

During the flight test, the jet-powered Scrab “flew at cruise speed only a few meters over the water and followed its flight plan without the intervention of a human pilot,” according to UAV Navigation. The privately owned company, which is based in Madrid with an office in Manassas, Va., said the test was conducted in anticipation of future bids for low-cost target aircraft that can mimic different types of overwater missiles. “Many countries are looking for cost-effective ways to maintain training standards to counter the threat of sea-skimming cruise missiles or attacking planes to naval and commercial vessels,” it said.