Graham Warwick / Washington DC. Additional reporting by Craig Hoyle / London

SkyLynx BAE Systems W445
© BAE Systems

Skylynx has demonstrated it can carry a 32kg payload and has an endurance of more than 16h

BAE Systems has unveiled its Skylynx contender for the US Marine Corps’ Tier 2 unmanned aircraft system technology demonstration. The Boeing ScanEagle and Northrop Grumman Killer Bee are among other contenders for a new divisional/regimental unmanned air vehicle to enter service in 2010.

BAE’s North American arm acquired the rights to the Israeli-designed UAV late last year, and recently flew a larger Skylynx 2 with twice the payload and endurance, says Arslan Safyurtlu, director unmanned aircraft systems. The vehicle can carry a 32kg (70lb) payload and has an endurance of more than 16h.

Two air vehicles have been built, powered by different engines, and a demonstration to the USMC is planned for late June, says Safyurtlu. Proposals for the Tier 2 technology demonstration were submitted on 11 May, with multiple contracts expected to be awarded in late July.

Safyurtlu says the USMC competition is split between vehicles weighing less than 45kg, like the ScanEagle, and those weighing more than 115kg, like the Skylynx. BAE is developing a NATO-standard ground station for the UAV, which is rail-launched and parafoil-recovered, but can also take off and land using a runway.

A team comprising Boeing, Qinetiq and Thales supported a successful series of 10 test flights of the ScanEagle as part of the UK’s Joint UAV Experimentation Programme (JUEP) earlier this year. Including launch from and recovery to the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland and the transfer of electro-optical and infrared imagery to a command and control helicopter and via satellite to headquarters facilities, the “Vigilant Viper” trials concluded the three-year JUEP project. Its work will be continued by the UK’s newly established Air Warfare Centre UAV Battlelab.

Source: Flight International