Polish unmanned air vehicle manufacturer Flytronic is using the MSPO defence show in Kielce to highlight its range, as Poland’s military looks to acquire systems across five weight categories.
Pride of place on its stand is the Manta LE, a hybrid-engined intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform that can offer vertical take-off and landing capability, as well as regular flight.
A pair of ducted fans concealed beneath covers in the wings provides vertical lift. The covers open and close automatically as the VTOL mode is engaged or disengaged.
Other comparable systems have tended to use tiltrotor technology to enable the transition to forward flight. However, says Marcin Pczycki, project manager at Flytronic, the company chose the ducted fans to reduce the number of complicated components that present difficulties over reliability.
So far, around 30 flights have been performed using three prototypes, says Pczycki, including VTOL manoeuvres.
Power for both the ducted fans and tail-mounted propellers comes from lithium-ion batteries that are continuously charged in flight by a small petrol-powered engine. The powerplant can even be switched off while airborne to enable a “quiet approach”, says Pczycki. “We are sure enough about ignition that we can switch [the engine] off and then start it again [in flight],” he adds.
Endurance for the Manta LE in its standard mode is around 20h; or 8h with VTOL operation. Maximum take-off weight also reduces from 140kg (308lb) to 70kg in VTOL mode, with empty weight at 50kg. Its wingspan is 6.6m (22ft).
Flytronic is part of the BS9 consortium, which comprises nine Polish companies and technical institutes and aims to fulfil Warsaw’s multiplatform UAV requirement.