AUVSI: Honeywell hawks T-Hawk while Army mulls future

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Honeywell is demonstrating the hover-and-stare virtues of its T-Hawk micro air vehicle to a wide variety of potential customers as the US Army Brigade Combat Team (BCT) mulls the vehicle's military fate.

Col. Robert Sova, the Army's unmanned aircraft systems capability manager, says the service just completed BCT Class 1 unmanned air vehicle intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mix analysis, which considered the attributes of vehicles including the T-Hawk and the fixed-wing Raven.

Sova says the document is being reviewed by officials and will be public by year's end.

"The entire mix study talked to what the capabilities of the [T-Hawk] class brought to the fight in comparison to what the Raven brought," says Sova.

"The results are not fully briefed out yet, but based on cost-benefit analysis and results of the study, OSD and army staff will make the decision as to its future."

Current plans are for nine BCTs to get "that class" of system, he adds. To date, Honeywell has delivered hundreds of T-Hawks, mostly to the Army and Navy for use in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Honeywell has been demonstrating the system for several niche applications.

In June, the company flew more than 200 flights at an airport in Florida with a T-Hawk for the US Air Force to demonstrate how its electro-optical and infrared sensors could aid in assessing damaged runways.

Part of the critical runway assessment and repair joint concept technology demonstration program, the trials included 15-61 meter (50-200ft)passes by the T-Hawk with a fixed wing aircraft performing higher level passes, says Vaughn Fulton, senior unmanned air systems program manager for Honeywell. The company also recently performed a demonstration for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on how the T-Hawk hover-and-stare capabilities might be used for bomb-disposal activities.