Ruag Aerospace calls its Super Ranger the first UAV built in accordance with the new international UAV Systems Airworthiness Requirements and Stanag 4671 rules. It has been designed to fill an important perceived gap, with the Swiss company’s market research showing that some tactical UAV operators need to upgrade to a medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) capability but do not want to expend their defense budget on the high costs required.
The Super Ranger is intended to help customers reduce their life-cycle costs dramatically, and it is claimed that nearly all the features of a MALE system can be supplied at the same cost as a tactical system. According to Ruag, its new UAV can provide 70 percent of MALE capability. With a 1,102-pound maximum takeoff weight, the Super Ranger can carry payloads of up to 330 pounds.
These loads may include TV and FLIR sensors in addition to a synthetic aperture radar (SAR). With a 20,000-foot service ceiling, the Super Ranger has a 20-hour endurance and an operational range of 125 nm with a line-of-sight control, increasing to 807 nm with satellite communications control. Safety features include a see-and-avoid sensor, a sophisticated pneumatic de-icing system and lightening strike protection.
Like Ruag’s earlier and smaller Ranger model, the new UAV has a twin-boom configuration with a pusher engine. Unlike its stablemate, about which Swiss citizens often complain because of its noise, the Super Ranger will be hard to detect, as it
is powered by a low noise, fuel-injection four-cylinder, four-stroke engine.
This will make the Super Ranger difficult to be heard above cities as well as above the sounds of battle. Estimates suggest that the new UAV will have a 68 dB noise signature, although the company expects to get below 65 dB. Ruag has also reduced the radar signature of the new design.
A proven and fully automated takeoff and landing system allows missions to be initiated under zero-visibility conditions. An advanced landing system enables the Super Ranger to put down on concrete runways using its retractable landing gear and fully automated brakes. Alternatively, it can land on unprepared surfaces when it deploys its integrated skid system.
Development of the Super Ranger began in 2005; the first of two prototypes are to fly next year.