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VTOL

The sub US$200,000 family aircraft – the Sky Yacht

December 12, 2006 Skyacht Aircraft has created a whisper quiet, steerable, Personal Blimp capable of sustained and affordable flight. Under development for four years, the first Personal Blimp, named Airship Alberto, made its first flight on October 27, 2006, becoming the first and only aircraft to meet this seemingly straightforward goal. The Personal Blimp uses hot air (rather than Helium) for lift and silent electric motors for propulsion and is hence a hot air balloon that can be flown, steered and landed in perfect quiet offering passengers a serene flight experience. It can hover and steer around objects making it ideal for, amongst other things, eco-tourism, aerial photography and film-making. It’s due at market in about two years for a price under US$200,000 compared to the smallest helium airship which costs US$2,000,000+ while a top-notch helium ship costs more than US$12 million. When not in use, the Personal Blimp can be deflated and folded for storage (much like a hot air balloon.) The combination of ready buoyancy control and rapid deflation eliminates not only costly hangars but also the large ground crews typically required for helium airships.  Read More

GoldenEye 80 ducted fan UAV makes successful first flight

December 7, 2006 Flying saucer sightings are certain to be on the increase from this point forth as a new type of aerial vehicle comes into existence. The Aurora Flight Sciences GoldenEye 80 unmanned air vehicle made a successful first flight last month, becoming the first ducted fan UAV to fly under the power of a heavy fuel engine. The fully autonomous GoldenEye 80 UAV is being developed under contract to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) through its Organic Air Vehicle (OAV-II) program. The GoldenEye 80 is designed to give company commanders the ability to spot, identify, designate, and destroy targets. With its powerful sensors and quiet operation, the aircraft can dash to a target area, hover motionless in the sky, and observe and designate a target – all without being heard by people on the ground. The unique design and embedded capabilities of the GoldenEye 80 enable the UAV to be used for a variety of military missions, from conducting surveillance beyond hills in rural areas to gathering intelligence while flying between buildings in urban warfare operations.  Read More

Special Forces get the first CV-22 Ospreys

November 18, 2006 The United States Special Forces have been the best equipped in the world for a long time, though the gap widened considerably on Thursday with the first delivery of the CV-22 Osprey to the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field, Florida. The CV-22 is the Air Force version of the V-22 Osprey, a tiltrotor aircraft that combines the speed and range of fixed wing aircraft with the vertical flight performance of a helicopter. With its engine nacelles and rotors in vertical position, it can take off, land and hover like a helicopter, but once airborne its engine nacelles can be rotated to convert the aircraft to a turboprop airplane capable of high-speed, high-altitude flight. The CV-22 offers unprecedented speed in the ingress and extraction of special forces into any terrain. Just in case the advantages of the CV-22 and its almost identical brethren the V-22 aren’t entirely obvious, the following recently published briefing by Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute highlights why the Osprey is one system the military needs more of right now.  Read More

The World’s Smallest RC Helicopter for US$100

November 1, 2006 The lines between manpackable UAVs for the military and high end Radio Controlled toys blurred some time ago, and when we saw the latest toy from Interactive Toy Concepts, we began to wonder just how far this trend might go, given the trend towards miniaturisation of everything. The Micro Mosquito is claimed to be the Worlds smallest, lightest and quietest full function indoor R/C helicopter and weighs only 15 grams – that’s hellishly impressive, but the startling bit is the retail price of just over US$100. We’re sure it’s not the smallest, because military contractors around the world no doubt have much smaller versions in the labs – but this one does have the advantage of being available on retail shelves within the next few weeks and is certain to be there only a short while.  Read More

UK's VTOL Harrier Jets upgraded

October 11, 2006 An upgraded version of the iconic Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) Harrier GR9 aircraft has entered service with the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy and Royal Air Force after a GBP500 million improvement package. The GR9 programme provides updated digital systems and enhanced operational capability that will allow the RAF to hit a wider range of targets harder, at longer range, with greater precision and with less risk to aircrew. A number of new systems have been or will be integrated onto the GR9, linked by a new on-board computer. These include the Precision Guided Bomb and infra red & television variants of the Maverick missile. Also included is the Successor Identification Friend or Foe (SIFF) system, which will make the aircraft less vulnerable in an operational environment. The GR9 will also carry the Brimstone missile which will enable it to attack up to 12 ground targets simultaneously compared with just two with the GR7.  Read More

Hybrid Manned/Unmanned Light Helicopter Makes First Flight

October 10, 2006 This photo shows the first of two newly designed A/MH-6X light-turbine helicopters lifting off for the first time late last month at Boeing’s Rotorcraft Systems facility in Mesa, Arizona. The flight was a significant milestone in the continuing development of the versatile hybrid manned/unmanned military aircraft which combines the proven performance of the A/MH-6M Mission Enhanced Little Bird (MELB) with the unmanned aerial vehicle technologies of the Unmanned Little Bird (ULB) Demonstrator, a modified MD 530F civil helicopter that has been in development since 2004. Aircraft performance will be similar to the ULB Demonstrator with an additional 1,000 pounds of payload that can be used for increased range, endurance or mission hardware. Total payload for the ULB Demonstrator is greater than 2,400 pounds.  Read More

Obstacle Cable and Terrain Avoidance System (OCTAS) showcased for rotorcraft

July 22, 2006 BAE Systems has developed a day/night, all-weather, all-obscurant capability that enables helicopter pilots to fly safely and avoid obstacles, including cables, in darkness, bad weather, and brown-out conditions. The Obstacle Cable and Terrain Avoidance System (OCTAS), being demonstrated this week at the Farnborough International Airshow, combines a Radar Cable Detection (RCD) system with BAE Systems’ TERPROM terrain avoidance system and a pilot display. It offers a low-cost way to significantly improve pilot situational awareness and can be expanded through addition of other sensors and capabilities to suit specific missions.  Read More

Little Bird - helicopter without a pilot

July 13, 2006 Just three months ago we wrote about the AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter demonstrating the ability to control an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) weapon payload using the Unmanned Little Bird (ULB) UAV technology demonstrator as the remote vehicle. Now the Little Bird has achieved a major milestone in its development by flying unmanned for the first time. The payload for the first unmanned flight weighed 740 pounds, but could have carried an additional 550 pounds of payload. A more advanced configuration, which is expected to make its first flight later this summer, adds an additional 800 pounds of payload. Add all that up and the weapon payload could be as great as 2000 pounds, flown autonomously while its payload or sensor is guided from a remote site or another platform. We suddenly see a future of battlefields with flocks of warbirds, all networked, armed and very, very dangerous ... and not a pilot in sight!  Read More

Eurocopter UH145 wins US$3 billion contract

July 2, 2006 EADS has landed the hotly contested contract to supply the U.S. Army’s next-generation Light Utility Helicopters (LUH) in a deal worth up to US$ 3 billion. The French-German company teamed with Sikorsky Aircraft to win the contest with its Eurocopter UH-145, a military version of the EC145. The UH145 flies at 131 kts, has a range of 370 nm, endurance of 3.4 hrs and can carry 2 pilots and 8 passengers. Its unique attributes include an antitorque rotor mounted on a high tailboom for safety and a set of aft-mounted clamshell cabin doors. UH145 production will move from Germany to the United States as part of the deal which is the first major win for EADS as a prime contractor for the US military.  Read More

New CH-47F Chinook helicopter unveiled

June 16, 2006 The first production CH-47F Chinook helicopter was unveiled to the U.S. Army during a rollout ceremony in Ridley Park, Pa. The aircraft is the first of 452 new CH-47F heavy-transport helicopters included in the U.S. Army Cargo Helicopter modernization program. The aircraft features a newly designed, modernized airframe and a Rockwell Collins Common Avionics Architecture System advanced digital cockpit to meet the needs of current and future warfighters. Powered by two 4,868-horsepower Honeywell engines, the new CH-47F can reach speeds greater than 175 mph and transport payloads weighing more than 21,000 lbs. The CH-47F, with the Robertson Aviation Extended Range Fuel System, has a mission radius greater than 400 miles.  Read More

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