BAE Systems is exploring potential development of a catapult-launched version of its Herti tactical unmanned air vehicle.
Fit checks were carried out at the end of June at BAE's Warton facility in northern England using the company's new Rotax-powered version of Herti - which will be displayed at next week's Farnborough air show - and a Robonic pneumatic launcher.
No launches have been made, but BAE and Robonic have jointly developed and "thrown" a representative dummy mass in a series of tests carried out in Finland in late 2005.
Martin Rowe-Willcocks, BAE business development executive for military autonomous systems, says that the dummy load replicated the weight and centre of gravity characteristics of Herti. The dummy mass was the largest yet launched by Robonic, which recently demonstrated the catapult launch of Sagem Sperwer B and Elbit Hermes 450 UAVs.
Full development of a catapult-launched version of Herti now depends on customer interest. "We are quite confident that should we have the chance to do it, we could do it," Rowe-Willcocks says, but the company "will not take the next steps without a real customer".
Parallel concept work has been carried out within BAE on options for a reduced landing footprint for the UAV. Herti is already designed for operation from rough strips and the concepts under examination have included the fitting of arrester gear.
Rowe-Willcocks says the catapult launch option is seen as opening wider potential mission applications for the aircraft, including the possibility of operation from large warships with onshore recovery.
|The Rotax-powered Herti could be launched by catapult|