AeroVironment, manufacturer of a line of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) used by the U.S. military and other forces, unveiled a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), man-portable UAS named Shrike. The aircraft is the result of a development contract awarded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa).
Darpa in 2008 awarded the Monrovia, Calif.-based company a $4.6 million contract to develop a small UAS capable of performing “hover/perch and stare” missions. At the time, AeroVironment said the stealthy, persistent, perch and stare (SP2S) concept was based on its Wasp UAS, a hand-launched, fixed-wing aircraft. Shrike generates lift from four small rotors and can hover 40 minutes or longer with a high-resolution video camera, the company says.
Shrike weighs approximately five pounds and is small enough to fit in a backpack, says AeroVironment, which provided few details in its announcement. The aircraft can be fitted with electro-optical or infrared modular payloads, has a line-of-sight range of 5 km (3.1 miles) and flies at 30 knots. It is operated by AeroVironment’s common ground control system–as are the company’s Wasp, Raven and Puma small UAS–and supports missions requiring vertical launches and landings without additional infrastructure. Its design also allows for the transmission of “several hours of live video as a remotely emplaced perch and stare sensor,” the company says.
“With more than four years of customer funding behind it, our new Shrike VTOL unmanned aircraft system is designed to address the need for a small, lightweight hovering aircraft that delivers unique surveillance and intelligence capability not provided by current solutions,” said Tom Herring, senior v-p and general manager of AeroVironment’s UAS business segment.