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VTOL

ScanEagle UAV demonstrates maritime capabilities

May 18, 2006 Last year we wrote about the ScanEagle UAV and its success in supplying U.S. Marines in Iraq with critical real-time tactical battlefield imagery. This time, we’re writing about the adaptation of the ScanEagle as a low-cost intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platform for amphibious operations. Currently being trialled for its maritime capabilities by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) in "Trial Vigilant Viper" off the coast of Scotland, the ScanEagle completed ten autonomous flights with full launch and recovery from a Type 23 Frigate in rough sea conditions. A small UAV such as the ScanEagle can significantly increase the capability of a boat, and the missions conducted during the trial illustrate this enormous potential for land and sea surveillance, beach reconnaissance, force protection, maritime interdiction and naval gunfire support.  Read More

EH101

May 5, 2006 As part of its Helicopter Electro Actuation Technology (HEAT) program for the U.K. Royal Navy’s EH101 Merlin helicopter fleet, AgustaWestland has awarded a US$32 million contract to BAE Systems for the development of the digital flight control computer. The new HEAT system will replace older, more complex hydraulic systems and will be the first electromechanical fly-by-wire system installed on a helicopter. It will reduce pilot workload, cost of ownership, maintenance, and weight while improving survivability, safety, and aircraft handling and agility.  Read More

SkyTote - the VTOL UAV that transitions into horizontal flight

April 8, 2006 One of the greatest difficulties with vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft is that they invariably don’t have high speed as one of their attributes. The principles are well explained in our article about the Cartercopter, and it’s one of the prime reasons the US military has persisted with the V-22 Osprey. There has been much emphasis on the development of new unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) in recent times, and development imperatives have often been torn between the various needs for UAVs that can quickly move from target to target yet loiter as a fixed and stable platform, all the while operating with no launch and retrieval infrastructure. One of the planet's most innovative companies, Aerovironment, has proposed an innovative configuration known as the Skytote to meet all of these needs. The SkyTote is a novel UAV using dual counter rotating propellers that will take off and land vertically like a helicopter, but also transition into horizontal flight like a conventional aircraft for efficient point-to-point operation. This complex vehicle uses an intricate drive system to allow helicopter operations with cyclic and collective control, as well as blade pitch control, combined with normal aircraft control surfaces in conventional flight operations  Read More

Weaponised, man-transportable Micro UAVs

March 14, 2006) Military conflict over the millennia has been defined largely by the technologies available – the spear, the sword, the horse, gunpowder, rifles, cannons, motorised transport, tanks, the anti-tank and anti-personnel mine, aircraft, rockets and so on. One of the coming capabilities capable of offering a massive advantage in warfare involves robots, sometimes guided and sometimes autonomous that walk, carry, roll, swim and fly. The first UAVs were used to improve situational awaereness and this has quickly evolved – now all but the smallest UAVs have been armed and found to be very effective at delivering precision firepower. The Tactical Aerospace Group (TAG) is about to reveal a new class of weaponised UAV that will be particularly useful for brigade level and down. Initially designed with the ability to be transported through a jungle environment for use in drug interdiction, the TAG UAVs can accompany spec-op teams, be carried over severe terrain and can be fitted with recoilless firearms, new technologies such as Metal Storm and up to 70mm rockets/missiles adapted from existing shoulder launched weapons.  Read More

V-22 Osprey readies for combat

March 12, 2006 EXTENSIVE IMAGE LIBRARY It’s been a long road for the Osprey but the aircraft first conceived several decades ago as being uniquely suitable for a wide range of military applications is finally being readied for the battlefront. The first combat-configured CV-22 Osprey left Bell Helicopter in Texas earlier this month and can expected to see action in Iraq and Afghanistan within months, most likely in transporting special operations teams and their gear into and out of action. The Osprey CV-22 converts between airplane and helicopter modes and is twice as fast as any previous VTOL aircraft, but also has significantly enhanced survivability and five times the range, offering operational flexibility beyond its most obvious in delivering specialist military capability to the exact point it is required and retrieving it afterwards.  Read More

Eagle Eye VTOL AUV First Flight

January 26, 2006 Bell Helicopter’s TR918 Eagle Eye Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) lifted off the ground for the first time yesterday, hovered for nine minutes, executed yaw and translation manoeuvres and then landed safely. It then undertook a second flight within 30 minutes of the maiden flight's landing. We have previously written about the TR918 here - the Eagle Eye uses the same tiltrotor system as a number of other Bell-Boeing VTOL designs, most notably the V-22 Osprey (Bell - Boeing)and the Quad TiltRotor.  Read More

The Snark - the meanest VTOL UAV on the planet

October 29, 2005 Meet the Snark – an Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle of immense capability that demonstrates just how far the breed has come in such a short period of time. Constructed mainly of Carbon Fibre and Kevlar, the Snark is light and fast (280 km/h), quiet (special rotor blades make it extremely quiet ), virtually invisible to radar or infrared detetection (it recycles its exhaust gases and emits little heat) and can carry a payload of 680kg, offering the ability to pack both massive firepower (enough to sink a ship) and surveillance equipment (such as high res infrared cameras with a magnification of 7500). But wait, there’s more, and this is the clincher. The Snark is the first UAV that runs on diesel fuel, which means it can be easily integrated into any military force – current UAVs require their own special fuel supply to be transported with them whereas the entire US Army plans to run on a single one fuel - diesel. Last and probably most importantly, the Snark can stay airborne for 24 hours at a time, offering an unprecedented loiter time for a machine of this capability.  Read More

Mobile helicopter landing and maintenance facility

October 15, 2005 Australia’s vast distances, harsh climate and isolated communities present major challenges for companies delivering vital services like electricity. To help in this environment, Brisbane-based Aeropower has developed a Volvo 380hp FM9 truck into a mobile helicopter landing and maintenance facility. Aeropower’s Volvo-based mobile facilities for its fleet of Hughes MD500 helicopters plays an essential role in the aerial survey and maintenance of high voltage power transmission lines by providing not only a safer, elevated landing platform for its helicopter crew, but also fuel, water and maintenance provisions to maximise operating efficiency in the field.  Read More

Airscooter develops petrol and electric coaxial rotor UAVs

October 5, 2005 Innovative air vehicle developer AirScooter has featured in Gizmag previously with its AirScooter II, a vehicle we dubbed, “The Helicopter for the Home.” Things have been moving quickly for the company in recent times, with several patented and patent-pending aeronautical products being developed to employ coaxial rotor technology. These products include a high-performance AirScout 70” Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and an electric powered UAV, both targeted at the commercial and military markets.  Read More

US$3.5 million Skycar goes on sale

October 3, 2005 Neiman Marcus, the specialty retailer renowned for its unique luxurious offerings, never fails to make available some delectable big toys for big boys and girls when it unveils its annual Christmas Catalogue. In recent years we’ve seen the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book offer a Custom Designed Mermaid Suit, a Dodge 500hp Tomahawk motorcycle and even the first commercially-available Deep Flight Aviator, but the 79th Annual Christmas catalogue has exceeded all previous efforts by putting the M400 Moller Skycar Prototype on sale – it’ll set you back just US$3.5 million but what the heck! Other fantasy gifts for the person who dares to dream big included in the 2005 book include a His & Hers Photo Booth, an NM Edition Lexus GS 450h (in 2003, the limited edition BMW 645Ci sold out in seven minutes), a Dreamboat levitating sculpture with "no visible means of support," a Grand Empire Railroad, and a replica of the 2005 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race winning car with flat-screen monitor, IndyCar Series 2005 video game and all related electronics.  Read More

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