By James Drew
Lockheed Martin has unveiled its Desert Hawk IV, which is no longer designed to break apart on landing and has almost twice the endurance of the third iteration of the small UAV operated by the British Army.
The new model has been waterproofed to operate in maritime environments and can survive landings in water. It can also fly through “steady rain and heavy snow,” says the company.
The new design maintains the 8.2lb (3.7kg) weight as the Desert Hawk III, but endurance rises to 2.5h from 1.5h and it has an improved, 360-degree electro-optical/infrared full motion video camera.
Lockheed Martin business development manager Andy Horler says the army does not currently have a requirement for the improved design but the changes were based on user feedback.
Horler says the flight control system has changed from analog to digital, but the most noticeable difference is when the new model lands.
“Now we’re going to deep stall, so it drops out of the sky with two metres precision,” Horler says. “The original Desert Hawk, when it landed it absorbed the impact by the wing breaking off. It doesn’t do that anymore, but you can still disassemble it.”
The army introduced the Desert Hawk in 2005 and deployed it in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq as an urgent operational requirement.