The US Navy is expected soon to select the unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) for its vertical- take-off-and-landing (VTOL) demonstration, following the successful first flight of one of its prime candidates for the programme.

The UAV Joint Programme Office "is reviewing the bids and is close to awarding a contract or contracts for the VTOL demonstration". The number of contracts awarded will be determined by available funding.

Word of the pending contract awards follows the first flight of a production Bombardier CL-327 Guardian UAV at Lawton Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The Canadian-made VTOL UAV is considered a key contender for the USN demonstration. Bell Helicopter has entered its Eagle Eye tilt-rotor UAV.

US Congress earmarked $15 million for ground-based and potentially shipborne VTOL UAV demonstrations. The CL-327 was flown on 30 November, and Bombardier says that all objectives of the first flight were achieved, including stable hover and forward flight, and subsystem functionality.

Source: Flight International