California-based Arcturus UAV plans to fly its T-20 Tier II aircraft equipped with a multi-sensor payload for an unnamed Asian country this week.
That sensor payload currently includes a TASE400 electro-optical/infrared camera and a Europa-S signal intercept and geolocation system. But company officials say that an Artemis synthetic aperture radar will soon be added as well.
This works because the relatively small T-20 is a heavy hauler.
“The amount of payload we can carry and the amount of room we have to carry payload is unique in an aircraft our size,” Steve Smith, Arcturus UAV’s director of application engineering, says.
The aircraft itself weighs a little over 45.4kg (100lb), but according to company literature, it can carry a 15.9kg payload for more than 16h.
It has also a relatively large internal bay and multiple hard points on its 5.18m wingspan.
In pursuing its new venture, Arcturus has teamed up with WGS Systems, which produces the Europa-S. This signals intelligence system can detect, analyze and intercept radio signals as well as determine their direction of origin relative to true north.
It can also find targets on the ground. “As the airplane flies along, we can take multiple ‘looks’ at the direction of that target and we can do triangulation to create a geolocation,” Bob Wise, president and CEO of WGS Systems, explains.
United Technologies (UTC) was the original prime contractor on the multi-sensor T-20 team, but it has since dropped out. UTC’S Cloud Cap Technology subsididiary still provides the TASE400 camera for the T-20, however.
“In their corporate structure there’s been some shuffling and reprioritising of various things,” Smith says, describing UTC’s change of heart and Arcturus UAV’s takeover as team lead.
Still, despite this corporate shuffling, he notes the system’s key selling points remain: the UAV is quiet, can handle 30kt headwinds and, in terms of logistical footprint, it’s “one or two pickup trucks and you’re good to go.”