New Zealand helicopter manufacturer TGR Helicorp will fly a low-observable unmanned combat armed rotorcraft (UCAR) demonstrator within the next four months. The Snark design is expect­ed to demonstrate 24h endurance and a mission radius of nearly 900km (480nm). Two earlier prototypes have already amassed 16h of tethered flights.

Unveiling the UCAR project at the Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Unmanned Systems 2005 conference in Paris on 7 June, TGR president Trevor Rogers said the third demonstrator is being built at the company’s Tanakai plant near Auckland and will be test flown at an army training range.

The programme has cost TGR “tens of millions of dollars”, said Rogers, making it one of the most expensive non-government aerospace development projects ever undertaken in New Zealand.

The Snark will have a maximum take-off weight of 1,130kg (2,500lb) including a weapons load of 580kg and a 440kg maximum fuel load. The Kevlar-reinforced carbonfibre airframe is around 4.6m (15ft) long and has a narrow forward profile, a shaped tail boom supporting a ducted rear rotor, and an automatic ballast system.

Fit checks have already been conducted with a pylon-mounted Raytheon AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile and rocket pod, and one Raytheon AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface missile can also be carried beneath the fuselage. The UCAR would conduct strike missions over a maximum range of 1,800km with a 426kg weapons load or reconnaissance missions over 3,800km, cruising at 110kt (200km/h).

Future enhancements to the platform’s DeltaHawk-supplied diesel engine “will probably increase our endurance to over 24h, getting up to 30h in the next 12 months”, said Rogers.


Source: Flight International