EADS is developing a prototype miniature air-launched target drone designed to be carried and released from larger drones to emulate the separation of stand-off weapons from strike aircraft.

Development of the DT-55 air vehicle started in early 2004 and at least one prototype has been built, but not flown. EADS says it will explore demand for the system before committing to its further development, but believes an untapped market may exist for the training of air defence operators to respond to sudden changes in target numbers. Italy's Galileo Avionica last year announced a similar development programme for its Locusta drone (Flight International, 14-20 December 2004).

The DT-55 is intended to perform 6-7g turns at speeds up to 250m/s and use the same engine and some avionics in common with EADS's current DT-25/35 drones. The airframe is 1.7m (5.5ft) long with a 0.6m wingspan and will have a maximum operating altitude of 25,000ft.

The miniature target would be standardised for transport on a hardpoint beneath a DT-25 drone, with this to also allow the DT-55 to take fuel from the host platform before launch. Its engine would run during the launch and initial positioning flight sequence with flight times forecast at up to 5min before recovery by parachute.

EADS says the two-drone combination can be launched using a catapult with a specially developed cradle. Fit checks of the arrangement were carried out last year, including static simultaneous running of the DT-35 and DT-55 engines. EADS is also looking at potential use of the Galileo Avionica Mirach 100 and Denel Skua drones as alternative host platforms.

The company has meanwhile signed an undisclosed value contract with Robonic of Finland for the delivery of a third deployable launcher to support the expansion of its commercial target services business unit.


Source: Flight International