The FPT Industries division of GKN Aerospace has been selected to supply an ultra-lightweight fuel system for the Korean Smart unmanned air vehicle to help enhance critical performance factors such as its ‘loiter on target’ time, range and payload. It is claimed that the combination of advanced composite materials with a new range of low-mass fixtures and connectors, will create the most advanced fuel system available for UAVs on the market today.
FPT Industries has established a track record in the design and manufacture of lightweight fuel bladders and the Korean fuel system is based around six fuel tanks manufactured using advanced, flexible fuel bladder technology. Together with a supporting fuel supply and conditioning system, this will optimize platform performance in any operating environment.
“The growth in the use of UAVs, and the potential of this market clearly make this a focus for the FPT business in the medium to long term,” commented John Pritchard, vice president of operations and site director for FPT Industries. “This contract demonstrates the strength of our relationship with the Korean aerospace industry and places FPT Industries in a strong position in the development of civil UAVs.”
The Smart UAV is a developmental program scheduled to run to 2012 with the aim of designing an intelligent, Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL), tiltrotor UAV platform with levels of speed and reliability similar to general aviation aircraft. The vehicle will achieve low operating costs through the application of advanced structures and materials, the use of technologies such as collision detection and avoidance, failure diagnosis, intelligent flight control and active vibration/noise/ speed control, as well as through on-board monitoring systems such as health and usage monitoring.
The new UAV will be offered for both civil and government operations, currently employing traditional, more expensive solutions such as helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. It is expected to be a more cost effective and flexible alternative for tasks such as weather forecasting, area and crowd monitoring, border patrol and inshore fishery patrols.
In addition, for operations such as television outside broadcast and disaster relief, it will offer an effective means to assess activity across large areas swiftly and efficiently and improve response times.