ALLIANT TECHSYSTEMS has resumed flight testing of the Outrider tactical unmanned air vehicle (UAV) after a two-week hiatus while improvements were incorporated on the prototypes.

It completed the seventh Outrider test flight on 9 August - the third successive flight longer than 20min. During the evaluation at the municipal airport at Hondo, Texas, the UAV was put through various manoeuvres to gather additional flight-performance data, says the company.

Meanwhile, Alliant Techsystems has completed performance tests on the Outrider's C-band datalink, electro-optical/infra-red (EO/IR) payload control and replacement gasoline engine.

Tests on the datalink and EO/IR payload were conducted on a helicopter to simulate flights on the drone. Images were successfully sent at the Outrider's maximum required range - over 200km (110nm) - to the ground-control station. The Outrider has also received an upgraded global-positioning-system receiver and airborne central processor.

The company has also completed truck-mounted tests of an Outrider prototype fitted with a rotary powerplant made by the UK's UAV Engines.

The captive-carry tests are designed to verify engine mounting and dynamic air cooling before actual flight. The engine has been selected partly to reduce weight. The air vehicle with the new engine will undergo taxi testing before its first flight.

Production Outriders were to have been powered by a US-built gasoline engine modified to burn diesel fuel, but poor engine-performance during endurance testing forced the Pentagon to persevere with gasoline engines for now.

Source: Flight International