VTOL

July 11, 2014 - 6:40am
The AV Sparrow from Torquing Group.

Consumer electronics manufacturers, former toy and hobby suppliers, research university spinoffs and major aerospace companies are among the entities vying for a share of the simmering commercial market for small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) generally weighing less than 20 pounds. They are advancing numerous fixed- and rotary-wing designs, some of which were displayed at the Unmanned Systems 2014 conference in May and others elsewhere. Following is a description of some, although by no means all, of the recent showings:

March 19, 2014 - 2:05pm
Boeing Phantom Swift

Darpa (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has now awarded prime contracts to all four participating companies to begin Phase 1 development for the agency’s VTOL X-Plane program. Boeing and Karem Aircraft received contracts this week, to join Aurora Flight Sciences and Sikorsky. While all four have submitted proposals for unmanned vehicles, the technology that is to be developed has equal application to manned VTOL aircraft.

February 24, 2014 - 5:09pm
DARPA Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded System

Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works advanced development unit is building an unmanned vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) air vehicle under a U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program to demonstrate a cargo UAV capable of carrying interchangeable mission payloads.

January 13, 2014 - 12:14pm
Schiebel Camcopter S-100

France’s DGA defense procurement agency, the French navy and systems integrator DCNS proved the “functional integration” of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) with a naval ship’s combat system for the first time in Europe, according to DCNS. Following sea trials in mid-December, the DGA issued a permit to DCNS to fly the Schiebel Camcopter S-100 aircraft used in the testing, the company said.

October 7, 2013 - 4:15am

Bell Boeing, the joint venture that produces the V-22 and MV-22 tiltrotor for the Air Force, Navy and Marines, announced that it had successfully demonstrated the capability of that aircraft to serve as an aerial refueling tanker in trials with F/A-18C/D fighters. The test V-22 used a retractable refueling drogue. Bell Boeing has been promoting the V-22 for other roles, including that of the Greyhound COD resupply mission for aircraft carriers.

August 12, 2013 - 4:55pm
S-76 Sikorsky Autonomous Research Aircraft

Sikorsky Aircraft is developing a set of hardware and software capabilities to support autonomous flight of unmanned or optionally piloted vertical-lift aircraft. Executives said the goal is to deliver an order of magnitude improvement in the safety and reliability of unmanned aircraft, which experience losses at a rate of once every 1,000 flight hours.

August 2, 2013 - 6:00pm

Contract negotiations between the U.S. Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate and AVX Helicopter, Bell Helicopter and the Sikorsky/Boeing team–the potential Phase I vendors for the joint multi-role technology demonstrator (JMR-TD)–are nearing completion. Announcement of the awards for a new U.S. Army medium helicopter are planned for September, according to an Army spokesman.

June 20, 2013 - 10:30am
S-100 UAS

The Camcopter S-100 unmanned air system (UAS) by Austria’s Schiebel (Hall 4 A40) has proved its efficient maritime capability repeatedly since the Gowind class L’Adroit offshore patrol vessel was made available to the French Navy in 2011. Schiebel, learning from the experience, says it is now working with sensor manufacturers to integrate maritime radar, electronic support measures (ESM) and EO/IR sensors into the S-100 system. This will for the first time provide maritime commanders with an organic, persistent, ISR capability for a UAS in this class.

March 15, 2013 - 9:15am

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) is soliciting proposals from industry for a vertical takeoff and landing experimental aircraft (VTOL X-plane) that would demonstrate “radical” improvements over the current state of VTOL flight. In late February, Darpa issued a broad agency announcement seeking proposals by May 1.

March 7, 2013 - 3:25pm
The “Project Zero” tiltrotor

On Monday, Italian helicopter maker AgustaWestland revealed that it has been secretly flying an all-electric vertical takeoff and landing demonstration aircraft powered by twin-electric, direct-drive tiltrotors. The “Project Zero” tiltrotor was designed and built in six months by the company’s advanced concepts group and has been flying since 2011.

 
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