An April 2009 first hover test for Israeli company Urban Aeronautics' prototype "Mule" ducted fan unmanned air vehicle is being planned following the selection of the Turbomeca Arriel-1D1 engine to power the UAV.

In preparation for the first prototype's assembly, the first set of its ducted fan rotors has been delivered to Urban by the developer, US company Aerocomposites. The five bladed rotors are 1.8m (5.8ft) in diameter and have variable pitch.

"We will bring a second prototype to the next Paris air show," says Urban Aeronautics' president Rafi Yoeli, who added that the engine selection had enabled the acceleration of the first prototype's assembly.

The Mule uses Urban's patented technologies that include adjustable louvres on the front and rear of the vehicle and vanes in the intake and exit of the ducts. Urban says that the vanes, combined with a fly-by-wire control system, will allow the Mule to maintain precise control and positioning to enable safe manouevring and landings in uneven terrain.

The Mule is designed to perform combat zone supply and medical evacuation missions. Made of composites it will be 5.8m long, 2.2m wide and have a height of 1.8m. Its maximum take-off weight is 1,100kg (2,400lb), it has a payload capacity of 400kg and will have a maximum speed of 100kt (185km/h). Fully autonomous, its maximum altitude is 8,000ft (2,440m) and its endurance will be up to 4h depending on payload mass and mission profile.

Source: Flight International