German manufacturer EMT plans to conduct the first test flight using a full-scale prototype of its X-13 flying-wing unmanned air vehicle within the next three months. The largest UAV yet developed by the company, the X-13 is intended to operate initially as a ship-launched and -recovered maritime reconnaissance system, with air-launched variants also being considered.
One prototype air vehicle has been built, with this using a pusher propeller and twin tailplanes mounted at the wingtips. The design has a 5m (16.4ft)wingspan and a payload capacity of up to 50kg (110lb). EMT says its provisional X-13 design is intended to provide an endurance of 6h with a maximum take-off weight of 130kg and a service ceiling of 10,000ft (3,000m).
Earlier artist's impressions of the UAV had indicated that the tailplanes would be located mid-wing, but the company says the new configuration reflects its evolving ideas about the design and lessons learned from initial flight trials using a half-scale model carried out early last year. Further evolution of the flying wing design may occur as a result of the next phase of full-scale testing, says EMT.
The prototype X-13 has a fixed tricycle undercarriage for take-off and landing, whereas production shipborne versions would be launched using a catapult and recovered into a net. The prototype air vehicle is also equipped with a large nose boom, with this to act as a counterweight in place of a sensor payload.
PETER LA FRANCHI / BERLIN