Sagitta Looks To The Future

 - November 18, 2013, 11:50 AM
Sagitta will start flying as a quarter-scale demonstrator to validate new technologies.

Early next year Cassidian’s Sagitta unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) research project should reach its critical design review. A range slot has already been booked for an August 2015 first flight, and the clock is ticking as the Sagitta team prepares to meet that deadline.

Some elements of the 3m x 3m tailless flying wing are already fixed, such as the outer shell shape, and the core elements have been tested independently. Now the process of integrating the elements together is being undertaken and should be completed at the end of next year.

Sagitta is a Cassidian Open Innovation program in which the aerospace giant has brought together a team of 15 research establishments and universities from across Germany to collaborate on a program to explore the kind of technologies that might be applied to UAVs in the future. The reference point for the program is a notional nine-meter span tailless UAV, and the team has decided to build a 1:4 scale flying demonstrator to validate the new technologies.

Undertaking most of the work are 21 doctoral students, mentored by experts from within Cassidian (Stand 410, Pavilion 10, 16) and the research establishments. The students have each been allocated certain technologies to work with, the 21 topics covering a variety of UAV-related subjects. The industry/research partners are sharing the work, with Cassidian overseeing integration.

Sagitta is to be powered by two 600-Newton jet engines, with vector-steering being one of the technologies to be investigated in the flying program. With a maximum takeoff weight of 125 kg, the Sagitta will have a 5 kg payload capability and a top speed of 200 knots. The vehicle will feature autonomous takeoff and landing capability, but there will also be a safety operator/pilot capability built in. The vehicle will have four datalinks, including one dedicated to an emergency flight termination capability under which the vehicle deploys a recovery chute.

Sagitta was launched officially at the end of 2011. After the first flight in 2015 Cassidian expects the air vehicle to fly for at least two years in the initial phase of trials, but that could be extended. In January another Cassidian Open Innovation project is to launch formally in the shape of the Savier program. This is centered on the company’s Getafe facility near Madrid, Spain, and is investigating aspects of future ground control for unmanned air vehicles.