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AUVSI: NextGen Basset makes show debut

The NextGen Aeronautics (booth 4458) Basset UAV has made its public debut at this year's show.

The aircraft, which was funded by the US Air Force research lab, was developed to test a USAF signals intelligence payload.

Since its first flight in April 2010, the pusher-prop Basset has completed four flights, each lasting approximately 30min. During the last flight, the system carried a 100lb signals intelligence payload.

NextGen is displaying the system at the show to market the Basset itself, but it also hopes to offer the platform as an equipment test bed for use by sensor manufacturers.

Its layout suggests a low-observable design, with canted twin tails and a fuselage that blends smoothly into the wings. It has large sharklets, which are unusual for a UAV of its size. It can carry sensor payloads inside the fuselage and underneath the wings.

The Basset's tricycle landing gear can be retracted, but a wing-mounted payload can prevent retraction of the main gear.

Aside from Basset, NextGen has undertaken several research programmes since its founding in 2003. It has developed conformal load-bearing antenna structures that allow large areas of a vehicle structure to be used as antennas while not compromising structural integrity, and has integrated low frequency antennas into UAV wings.

The company plans to build a second Basset in 2013.