Alenia Aeronautica is preparing to fly its new Sky-Y medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned air vehicle (UAV) at Sweden's Vidsel test range while a full-scale mock-up will be displayed at the Paris air show.
The entry-level MALE has been designed for the civil marketplace and is intended to act as a half-scale flying risk-reduction system for Alenia's Molynx top-end MALE development programme.
It will also act as a stepping stone towards the planned development of a new blended wing body military MALE system with internal weapons bays optimised for close air support missions.
That UAV, currently designated Black Lynx, would be in the Predator B class, with Alenia officials describing it as a "market making" platform in its own right.
Black Lynx: "a market making platform" in it's own right
The all-composite Sky-Y prototype uses a modified 9.9m (32.5ft) light sports aircraft wing with twin tail booms extending from the wing. Total length is 9.7m. The aircraft nose houses a 76cm steerable satellite communications antenna. Both the demonstrator and the mock-up being exhibited at Paris incorporate a cranked nose probe housing air data sensors for the flight-test campaign.
Wind tunnel testing for the configuration was carried out in October last year ahead of manufacture of the demonstrator. Final assembly and fit out was carried out at Alenia's Caselle plant outside Turin.
Sky-Y is expected to cruise at 20,000ft with an endurance of 14h and a cruising speed of 140kt (259km/h). The UAV is now powered by a 200hp (150kW) Fiat automotive diesel engine fitted with a single-stage turbocharger.
Follow-on development plans for the demonstrator incorporate the replacement of that engine by a 250hp, 2.4 litre variant of the same Fiat engine, but fitted with a two-stage turbocharger. That development effort is being carried out in collaboration with the Italian Diesel Jet company, with the new plant expected to raise its cruise ceiling to 35,000-40,000ft.
The Sky-Y demonstrator currently has a maximum take-off weight of 1,200kg (2,640lb), including a 150kg sensor payload and 200kg of fuel.
Molynx is planned to have an endurance of 6h with a 25m span, with a first demonstrator expected to fly in 2009. Alenia's existing Sky-X unmanned combat vehicle demonstrator is due to resume flight testing later this year in Italy.