Aurora Flight Sciences has begun flight testing its GoldenEye 80 vertical take-off and landing unmanned air vehicle, developed under the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Organic Air Vehicle (OAV-II) programme.

The first ducted-fan UAV to fly with a heavy-fuel engine, according to Aurora, the 1.65m (5.4ft)-tall, 68kg (150lb) GoldenEye 80 is one of three candidates for the US Army's Future Combat System (FCS) Class II UAV requirement.

Its first test was a hover, but the UAV can transition to forward flight and Aurora plans to add swivelling wings to extend endurance to 6-8h, from the 2h required for OAV-II.

The smaller GoldenEye 50 has achieved wingborne flight.

Extended endurance could enable the vehicle to straddle the FCS Class II and III UAV requirements, says Aurora, which is awaiting the results of a Department of Defense "mix" study into whether the army's UAVs can be rationalised.

Other Class II contenders are a Honeywell ducted-fan UAV that is being developed under the OAV-II programme and Piasecki's Air Guard.

Source: Flight International