New guidance system under study, as well as missile and target variants of airframes

Thales's Australian subsidiary ADI is exploring an air-launched loitering missile variant of its developmental Cybird and Jandu unmanned air vehicles, plus a potential high-speed sea-skimming target version to create a common family of airborne sensor platforms and weapons.

The Jandu is being developed as a testbed for the exploration of high-speed, low-altitude, deep-penetration missions. The concept has close parallels to the "fast-slow" tactical UAV programmes being pursued by Dassault and EADS for an expected requirement to replace the French army's EADS CL-289 systems.

ADI says Jandu has the same basic airframe configuration as the larger Cybird-2 micro-turbojet-powered UAV, including a V-tail. The Cybird is being developed to examine new guidance systems derived from insect-eye-based navigation technology.

The UAV will have a payload capacity of around 50kg (110lb) and an endurance of 4-8h.

Common to all versions are miniature turbojet engines from Perth, Western Australia-based Turbo Jet Technologies. Cybird has its engine internally mounted, while Jandu will feature an above- fuselage silenced engine being developed under contract from ADI.

The proposed loitering weapon - designated Stalker - would modify the Jandu's aft fuselage to allow the engine to be internally mounted. The UAV's low-mounted wing would be replaced by an upper-fuselage-mounted wing, turned 90° to rest nose to tail in carriage mode. On release, the wing would automatically reposition to provide lift.

The weapon would carry a dual warhead in its basic configuration, but options exist to fit additional fuel tanks in place of the rear-fuselage-housed secondary warhead.

The air-launched sea-skimming target version has the same tail and engine arrangement as Stalker, but has two wings that will be deployed after launch. A ground-launched version is also being considered.

ADI is negotiating separate funding contracts for Cybird and Jandu under the 2004 round of Australia's concept technology-demonstration programme and is pursuing two contract awards next year for the Stalker and target drone versions.


Source: Flight International