BAE Systems is bouncing back from its defeat in the competition to supply the US military with a ducted-fan unmanned air vehicle, and plans to flight test its IAV2 vertical take-off and landing UAV fitted with passive wings that enable the vehicle to switch from vertical to horizontal flight.
Adding wings will increase its speed from 20kt (37km/h) to 100kt or more and extend its endurance from around 1h to 4-5h. The wings will aid lift and less power will be required to keep the vehicle aloft.
Vertical to horizontal thrust tests were conducted with a 152mm (6in)-diameter fan-powered proof-of-concept vehicle. However the IAV2 is a 940mm-wide vehicle with a 560mm ducted fan and a maximum take off weight of 56.8kg (125lb). Flight tests of the vertical to horizontal thrust switch with the larger vehicle are yet to be conducted.
The IAV2 can carry a 9kg payload, currently an electro-optical camera that transmits data back to a ground station. “We see it as a replacement to the soldier as a scout,” says BAE Systems VTOL UAV programme chief systems engineer Kurt Vieten.
Later this month the IAV2 will perform endurance and flight envelope extension tests. The IAV2 has has carried out over 20 flights since 12 July at altitudes of 100ft (30.5m), covering distances of up to 3km (1.62nm).
On 22 July the vehicle completed its first completely autonomous waypoint route at the company’s Californian test range.
The US arm of BAE in May lost to Aurora Flight Systems and Honeywell in the Organic Air Vehicle (OAV) II competition conducted by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The company has since begun flight tests of its internally designed ducted-fan vehicle, which it is now offering to the US Marine Corps and Special Operations Command, and the US Department of Homeland Security and Forest Service.
Source: Flight International