Maryland, USA-based Proxy Aviation Systems has unveiled an optionally piloted version of the Velocity Aircraft Velocity XL canard/wing kitplane as part of its SkyWatcher multi-air-vehicle surveillance system.

The system is expected to comprise up to 12 aircraft in a self-co-ordinating constellation providing airborne intelligence data to a network of up to 20 ground nodes.

Only one of the ground nodes would be required to operate as a traditional unmanned air vehicle ground-control station, while a second would operate as a system maintenance terminal. The rest would support remote data terminals also capable of transferring tasking of the constellation to alternative users in the network.

Data generated by any single aircraft in the constellation would immediately be available to all other aircraft and nodes.

Proxy chief executive Donald Ryan says this approach could allow a cut in the variety of tactical UAV types on the battlefield, with units having ongoing access to all incoming data as they manoeuvre, and being authorised to take over control of all or part of the constellation as necessary.

Data exchange between aircraft and the ground network will be based on packet-switching techniques. Ryan says Proxy will demonstrate the system at the US Air Force’s Indian Springs UAV Battlelab this year using two prototypes, the second of which is being built. A third is due to be completed in early 2006.

Development work has been self-funded by Proxy, which has exclusive rights to develop optionally piloted and unmanned versions of Velocity aircraft for the international market.

Source: Flight International