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The Bell Eagle Eye UTAV ready to fly

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January 20, 2004

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The Eagle Eye UTAV is intelligent, flies like an aircraft and takes off and lands vertically. It will fly into the toughest life-threatening conditions imaginable so human beings don't need to. It's also capable of providing the best recon reports, in the worst dynamic conditions, hour after hover-flight hour, because it uses the same tiltrotor technology as its big brother Osprey to provide a runwayless solution for the ultimate in ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance).

The Bell Eagle Eye tiltrotor Tactical VTOL unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) will be ready for flight later this year and Bell is confident it has the killer-app for tilt-rotor technology. Traditionally UAVs have been small fixed wing aircraft requiring either a runway or netting for retrieval. Normally runways are unavailable in the field and netting has proven to be a very hazardous form of UAV retrieval aboard ship often resulting in serious damage to or destruction of the aircraft.

Helicopters have the advantage of being able to take off and land anywhere. However, helicopter UAVs do not have the speed and range of fixed-wing UAV aircraft. Further, small short coupled tail rotor aircraft may not be stable when going through the burble experienced with landing on Navy Surface Combatants. The Bell Eagle Eye is the perfect solution. With its rotors in the vertical position, the Bell Eagle Eye can takeoff, hover and land like a traditional rotary wing aircraft.

By tilting its rotors to the horizontal position the Bell Eagle Eye can fly with the high speed and range of a turbo-prop fixed wing airplane. Also, the counter rotating design provides improved stability through the burble.

Working equally well in land or sea based environments, the Bell Eagle Eye increases battlefield flexibility by allowing military units a view of enemy territory without risking the lives of soldiers. Needing less manpower, equipment and space, this UAV lowers force structure costs with automated maintenance and operator functions. It is also highly reliable and easily supportable. The Bell Eagle Eye has the space, weight and power to carry surveillance, targeting, Electronic Warfare and lethal payloads. Offering speed flexibility as well as Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL), the Bell Eagle Eye is the most versatile UAV on the market.

Three Bell Eagle Eye unmanned tiltrotor aerial vehicles (UTAV) are under development. Under proposed funding plans, the program calls for ultimate delivery of 69 aircraft and 50 ground control stations with an expected total program value of at least $1 billion.

The Bell Eagle Eye's tiltrotor technology allows the aircraft to take off and land like a helicopter and fly like an airplane. This technology gives the Bell Eagle Eye UTAV superior speed and flexibility over a typical UAV. With its rotors tilted forward it can cruise at speeds over 200 knots, find moving targets 80-110 nautical miles away in minutes and be easily re-tasked in-flight for another mission. It also has the ability to loiter over a target 100 nm away for four hours. The Bell Eagle Eye is both land and ship deployable given its ability to operate from confined spaces.

Bell Helicopter Textron, a Textron Inc. subsidiary, is a $1.6 billion, leading producer of commercial and military helicopters, and the pioneer of the revolutionary tiltrotor aircraft.

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About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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