Ramon Lopez/BRISTOL

Unmanned air vehicle (UAV) builder General Atomics is seeking US Air Force support for an in-house heavy fuel engine (HFE) development for the Predator high altitude UAV, which is ready for flight testing. The company is also poised to test an HFE for the Prowler II tactical UAV, developed from a marine engine.

Under development for the German military, the Wankel Rotary heavy fuel VLDE 407 SDT engine should achieve 32kW (43hp). While flight testing remains to be completed, the firm is planning production. A more powerful, 67kW, turbocharged twin-rotor version would follow, and a third model for manned aircraft application is in development.

The US Navy's Vertical Take-off and Landing Tactical UAV and the US Army's Close Range Tactical UAV (CR-TUAV) projects are boosting the race to develop HFEs.

The US Army may allow for gasoline-fed UAVs but ultimately requires that the CR-TUAV winner burn heavy fuels.

Source: Flight International