Textron has unveiled an updated version of the Aerosonde small unmanned air vehicle (UAV) featuring a heavy fuel engine and modified wings. The changes will allow the aircraft to survive harsh recoveries.
Referred to internally as the 'RG,' the latest Aerosonde model is a modification of the Mk 4.7 and includes the aircraft's same 6.8kg (15lb) payload capacity. The changes include a 3kW (4hp) heavy fuel engine, built by Orbital, to meet US military requirements. The increased power allows the aircraft to generate up to 300 watts for payloads, allowing greater choice and flexibility for operators.
The Aerosonde's wing is mounted slightly lower on the fuselage, replaced by communications equipment that benefits from airflow cooling. The wing is substantially strengthened both internally and externally, allowing the aircraft to survive more recoveries, which are made by flying the aircraft into a net. The launch process has been changed from a fuselage-gripping sling to wing-mounted brackets.
The development process took 12 months, according to Textron, and six of the new aircraft have been built to date. The new version of Aerosonde will be included in bids for major US military UAV contracts, including ISR Services and MUAS.