Airbus Defence & Space is gearing up for the first flight of a new, higher-weight variant of its Tanan vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned air vehicle.

The design was previously designated the Tanan 300, to reflect a maximum take-off weight of 300kg (660lb), but the manufacturer has now increased this figure by 50kg, allowing the rotary UAV to carry a payload of 80kg.

Tanan II - Airbus Defence & Space

Airbus Defence & Space

Sascha Hapke, senior manager air systems Airbus Defence & Space, says that ground tests of the vehicle are under way, with a maiden sortie “pretty imminent”.

To achieve the higher maximum take-off weight, the manufacturer has redesigned the UAV’s airframe. However, the type's original diesel engine and other systems are unchanged.

Tests will be conducted with an L-3 Wescam electro-optical/infrared camera installed, says Hapke.

Airbus has yet to secure an order for the Tanan, but Hapke says it is “in discussions” with navies “worldwide”. Although declining to name potential clients, he does single out the French navy as one possible customer; but cautions that there has been “no decision yet”.

Pitched against the lighter Saab Skeldar and the Schiebel Camcopter S-100, Hapke believes the now-350kg Tanan sits in the “sweet spot” for ship-based tactical, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms.

Source: Flight Daily News