Royal Australian Navy interest in a patrol boat-launched and recovered short-range unmanned air vehicle to support maritime and fisheries patrol duties has spurred interest from manufacturers including Aerosonde/Lockheed Martin, Aerovironment and Schiebel. The service is actively studying options to equip a new class of 51m (170ft) patrol boats.

Aerosonde and Lockheed have proposed the development of a new recovery system for Aerosonde-series UAVs, with this to possibly combine a folding, deck-mounted net or entanglement system and modifications to the air vehicle’s avionics to allow precision approaches. A technology demonstration is possible in “early to mid-2006”, says Bill Martha, head of UAV activities for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Orlando.

Aerovironment has developed a marinised version of its Puma short-range, electrically powered UAV dubbed the AquaPuma and the type is already in limited series production for the US Navy, says Stayne Hoff, the company’s international business development manager for small UAVs.

Schiebel has offered to demonstrate its S-100 vertical take-off and landing tactical UAV late this year in collaboration with Australian shipbuilder Austal.

Source: Flight International