Bell's Xworx is developing plans to produce a second full-scale prototype of the HV-911 Eagle Eye vertical take-off and landing unmanned air vehicle, but intends to reserve the second tiltrotor for use as an armed demonstrator. Dan McIlroy, Xworx senior vice-president, says a second full-scale demonstrator is being discussed with potential customer the US Marine Corps and existing customer the US Coast Guard. Both are interested in demonstrating the aircraft's weapons-carrying capabilities using existing hardpoints on the wing.
Unlike the first Eagle Eye prototype, which is due to fly in June, McIlroy says Xworx will probably ask both customers to contribute to the production costs for the second prototype vehicle. Bell has invested in the Eagle Eye programme since 1993, mostly relying on a seven-eighth scale prototype for demonstration flights. Last November, Bell chief executive Mike Redenbaugh directed the Xworx rapid prototyping team to produce a full-scale model.
Bell's advanced concepts staff, led by Mark Gibson, has also conceived a military cargo variant of the Eagle Eye called the Mule UAV. This would be used on the battlefield to transport supplies to the front using a just-in-time logistics model. The Mule UAV concept is linked to Bell's larger effort to build a Lockheed Martin C-130-size Quad Tilt Rotor that could transport large units or equipment rapidly to areas without needing runways. The UAV would then transport smaller items.
STEPHEN TRIMBLE / FORT WORTH
Source: Flight International