Sikorsky Aircraft has received $5.5 million from the US Congress to build two Cypher II unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) with ground control stations, for testing by the US Marine Corps. The contract includes options for another 10 of the all-composite vertical take-off and landing UAV rotorcraft.

Dubbed Dragon Warrior by the USMC, the UAVs will participate in the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory's Capable Warrior experiment in early 2001, which will demonstrate tactical reconnaissance UAV performance in an urban environment.

The high-speed Cypher II, which incorporates a shrouded rotor, a pusher propeller and removable wings, should be airborne within a year.

Sikorsky hopes the Congressionally mandated experiment will lead to production of a family of Cyphers, ranging from a 23kg (50lb) man-portable mini-Cypher, the original Cypher I, and a 180kg payload Cypher III.

Source: Flight International