Aurora Flight Sciences has begun flight testing its GoldenEye 80 vertical take-off and landing unmanned air vehicle, developed under the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Organic Air vehicle (OAV-II) programme.
The first ducted-fan UAV to fly with a heavy-fuel engine, according to Aurora, the 1.65m (5.4ft)-tall, 68kg (150lb) GoldenEye 80 is one of three candidates for the US Army’s Future Combat System (FCS) Class II UAV requirement.
Its first test (pictured below) was a hover, but the UAV can transition to forward flight and Aurora plans to add swivelling wings that will extend endurance to 6-8h, from the 2h required for OAV-II. The smaller GoldenEye 50 has demonstrated wingborne flight.
Extended endurance could allow the vehicle the straddle the FCS Class II and III UAV requirements, believes Aurora, which is awaiting the results of a Department of Defense “mix” study into whether the USA Army’s UAVs can be rationalised.