BAE Systems unveils the Mantis UAV at its outdoor exhibition site today. The Mantis, shown in full-scale model form, is armed with GBU-12 laser-guided bombs and Brimstone missiles on its six weapon pylons. The twin-prop, T-tailed vehicle is equipped with a multi-sensor turret and radar under the fuselage, and a satcom antenna in the upper nose section. It employs a triplex flight control system.
UAVs and drones
The new TR-3 turbojet shown at the Safran stand (Hall 4/B12) is the smallest yet to be developed and put into production by Microturbo (one of Safran’s subsidiary companies). Certification of the tiny engine is expected by the end of this year, with series production slated to begin in 2009.
Boeing’s A-160T Hummingbird rotor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) recently claimed an unofficial world’s record for its weight class by staying aloft for more than 18 hours. In a mid-May test at the U.S. Army’s proving ground in Yuma, Arizona, the turbine-powered craft–carrying a 300 pound payload–reached altitudes of up to 15,000 feet and landed with a fuel reserve of more than 90 minutes.
One of the biggest problems for those designing the next generation of unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs) is how to define, choose and incorporate a powerplant. Rolls-Royce believes it has the answer in a new type of engine system that has a much hotter core and provides not only power to the airframe, but also manages the entire power requirement of the UCAV. However, it doesn’t have the money for the program–at least, not yet.
Underscoring the universal appeal of the Farnborough International 2008 airshow, the organizers have again dedicated space for specialty sectors or disciplines, with areas reserved for business aircraft manufacturers and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). It also is featuring International Youth Day on Friday, as the show week ends (see box).
Analysis and simulation of operations by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is not always an easy task because of the need to consider the broad C4-ISTAR picture, often in a joint scenario. However, being able to verify mission requirements and to validate concepts of operation before buying new systems is certainly of value to military clients.
While European governments preach greater collaboration in defense research and development, three competing programs for uninhabited combat air vehicles (UCAVs) have been officially funded. Yet the aim of all three is to preserve the European high-technology base and develop important capabilities such as low-observability and autonomous control, independent of the U.S.
Two General Atomics Sky Warrior UAVs have been operating in Iraq since late April, well ahead of the drone’s formal system design and development (SDD) schedule. The Sky Warrior, a new version of the Predator-A, won the U.S. Army’s extended-range/multipurpose (ER/MP) competition. The substantial changes include a Thielert heavy-fuel engine, an autoland system and an improved, more mobile ground station.
Raytheon has sold a Predator Operations Center to the U.S. Air National Guard, which will use it to direct Predator UAV missions. The company is also marketing its Universal Control System (UCS) for the control of UAVs such as the Predator.
UCS is designed to be more user-friendly than the original ground stations supplied by General Atomics, and Raytheon hopes to make a sale soon.
For the upcoming European football championship, jointly hosted by Switzerland and Austria, the Zurich police department has decided to supplement its crowd control systems using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) supplied and operated by the Swiss air force as observation platforms. Light drones are cheaper to fly than manned aircraft and will free helicopters for other tasks such as carrying personnel.