AUVSI: New and improved T-Hawk enroute to Navy

Washington DC
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Honeywell has delivered 12 production RQ-16 T-Hawk micro air vehicles (MAVs) to the US Navy, the first of 90 unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) ordered by the service.

Each system includes two vehicles plus spares. Earlier T-Hawks procured through the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) had been engineering units, says Dan Fouts, business development manager for Honeywell Defence and Space. Fouts says there are currently more than 30 of the earlier generation DARPA T-Hawk MAVs being flown in Iraq by the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

In addition to having an articulating camera, the new T-Hawks feature additional operating modes, including a "fly-at" mode which allows the operator to move the MAV closer to the target with a single command. Fouts explains that operators requested the mode to help in situations where the camera's infrared image, in zoom mode, would pixelate. With the fly-at feature, the T-Hawk moves along a glideslope path toward the target.

Honeywell is also readying a new version of the T-Hawk with digital datalink radios for the Army, the first models of which will be delivered in the first or second quarter of 2010. Fouts says the common link will allow communications with the Army's Raven UAS. The contract includes a total of 40 systems.

In addition to a sale in the UK, Honeywell is also continuing to market the T-Hawk to international customers. A demonstration is ongoing in Jordan for potential customers in the military, law enforcement and first responders.

Fouts says commercial interest in the vehicle remains high in the USA, though the inability to fly without having a certificate of authorization or an experimental airworthiness certificate continues to dampen sales.