Rheinmetall Shows New Hybrid UAV

 - September 21, 2012, 11:25 AM
The TU-150 is a hybrid UAV combining wing and rotor lift. It was displayed for the first time at the Berlin airshow by Rheinmetall Airborne Systems. (Photo: Chris Pocock)

Rheinmetall Airborne Systems revealed a new fixed-wing/VTOL hybrid UAV at the ILA Berlin airshow. Displayed in full-scale model form, the Tactical Utility TU-150 is a joint development with Swiss UAV, the company that produced the VTOL UAV now marketed by Saab as the Skeldar.

The TU-150 is capable of hovering, can take off and land vertically, and can fly at 120 knots for up to eight hours (11 hours with auxiliary fuel tanks). The turbine engine, burning kerosene or heavy fuel, generates electrical propulsion for the rotors and pusher propeller without any gearing. Multiple stabilized sensor balls can be carried, and “a wide range of mission scenarios” is being explored, according to Rheinmetall. The TU-150 weighs 300 pounds and has a wingspan of 26 feet, including the rotors.

Rheinmetall also displayed its TR-50 lightweight low-cost reconnaissance UAV. Two prototypes have now flown. “Now that we are 51-percent owned by EADS, we could develop this UAV further,” Bjorn Symank, head of sales, tactical unmanned systems, told AIN.

Meanwhile, the company’s KZO reconnaissance drone continues to serve the German Army in Afghanistan, and its German Air Force (GAF) contract to supply and operate the IAI Heron 1 was extended for two more years last April. A larger Heron TP was also on display at the Rheinmetall stand, indicating the GAF’s interest in possibly upgrading to this UAV.

Finally, Rheinmetall also displayed the optionally piloted version of the Diamond DA42 Opale MPP diesel twin. “Regulations in some countries make it difficult to fly UAVs. The Opale makes sense, especially when equipped with the automatic takeoff and landing system,” Symank said.