After nine years of development, Rafi Yoeli, founder and CEO of Urban Aeronautics says he is confident the Air Mule can achieve operational level within four years. The new design is gaining much interest and support within Israel Defense Forces (IDF), bringing Yoeli closer to achieve his goal. “If funding for the Air Mule is secured, we could have Air Mule ready for fielding by 2015”. Yoeli tells Defense-Update.
Credit Urban Aeronautics, 2011
Earlier in 2011 the ‘FanCraft’ innovator has resumed flight testing of AirMule the first FanCraft application designed as an unmanned vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) cargo carrier and casualty evacuation platform. The latest design change included the replacement of skids with landing wheels, creating some air ducts on the sides and integration of more sensors, improving the 1.4 ton aircraft response to side-wind gusts.
In recent months Urban’s engineers integrated more sensors into the flight control system, which has become more complex and powerful. The original Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation System (GPS/INS) was enhanced with more accurate Fiber Optical Gyro (FOG) and Differential GPS (DGPS) to offer higher navigation precision and improved flight control under more difficult flight conditions. The replacement of the skids with landing gears also proved a complex task, as extensive re-training of the flight-by-wire system was required, to train the algorithms to adapt to the wheel’s elasticity and interaction with the surface on landing and takeoff.
Urban Aeronautics Air Mule at the Paris Airshow 2011. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update
In the upcoming weeks Urban Aerospace plans to replace the current Safran Turbomeca Arriel 1 engine with the more powerful Arriel 2, increasing the nominal power output from 730 shp to 940 shp. The new engine will bring the vehicle to the target half-ton useful payload weight class. “With the increased power Air Mule will be capable to take off at sea level with a maximum load of 650 kg, including fuel and useful cargo” Yoeli told Defense-Update. “We expect the vehicle to burn about 150 kg of fuel per hour, cruising at around 100 knots. Therefore, the Air Mule will be able to carry around 500 kg supporting forward units over a 50 km radius.” In fact, the Air Mule is designed to operate from forward bases, where ten vehicles could support 3,000 combat troops in the brigade area, over multiple missions, 24/7.
Urban Aeronautics is investing extensively in the development of the Air Mule air vehicle, following Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) civil air worthiness standards (FAR 27), while the flight control system follows those developed for manned aviation. Yoeli is confident that these investments will pay off in the future, “when the time comes to certify this platform to carry wounded persons or transport passengers and troops, it will be ready.” Yoelli said.
AirMule – photo: Urban Aeronautics, 2011
“As the unmanned Air Mule is matured we expect to develop it into a piloted, troop carrier“ Yoeli told Defense-Update, ”It will be able to carry five passengers in addition to the pilot, maintaining the same single engine configuration.” The future manned configuration known as ‘Centaur’ will be utilized for special missions including law enforcement, rescue and evacuation etc. While carrying passengers in full capacity means it will have a limited range, Centaur will offer unique advantages unavailable by any other vehicle. Another manned/unmanned application could be assisting in emergency operations, vehicles regularly used for emergency operations could also be equipped for autonomous and remote operation, fitted with manipulator arms. Such capability could greatly assisted emergency response activities in Japan’s , such as in Japan’s nuclear reactors, Eventually, Urban Aeronautics plans to achieve its original goal, fielding the X-Hawk twin-engine troop carrier originally developed with Bell Helicopters. The twin-engine application will be mandatory for civil night operations over European cities.
This is where Defense-Update will upload new photos during every day of the Airshow…
The PARS 3LR weapon was developed under a three-nation cooperation (TRIGAT), which fell apart upon the withdrawal of British support. Later, the French MOD decided to discontinue its support leaving Germany to back the program. A possible Indian order could bring the missile back to the limelight. Photo: Tamir Eshel, defense Update
The WASP mini-UAV displayed by UVision at the Paris Air Show 2011. Photo: Tamir Eshel, defense-Update
Airbus Military A400M on display. The aircraft made one demonstration flight today, performing for the French President. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update
the Micro B micro UAV from BlueBird Aero Systems, carrying what Ronen Nadir, CEO calls 'the world's lightest thermal imaging payload'. Our camera caught the micro-payload on a rare expose. According to Nadir, the lightweight camera was developed by Bluebird, based on an uncooled thermal imaging sensor made by Semiconductor Devices (SCD). Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update
The new Fury 1500 UAV from AME. With an empty weight of 25 kg, the new Fury 1500 can carry 75 – 100 kg of payload on a 15 hour mission. The ‘1500 is AME’s largest platform fielded to date. It is designed to carry multiple payloads, and carry two datalinks, plus satellite communications (a control communications channel utilizing an Iridium satlink. The company also plans to integrate a miniature satellite dataling to support sensor feed download via satellite. Currently the system uses two CDL links, enabling the Fury to serve as a radio relay for other platforms.)
The Fury 1500 UAV. The Fury 1500 UAV. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update
This photo shows the Fury 1500 in an optional configuration adding two aerodynamic payload fairings covering ‘expensive payloads’ as Jay McConville, Chairman of the board at AME UAS said. The company is also the developer of the U.S. Air Force ‘Sand Dragon’ program, designed to fight Improvised explosive Devices (IEDs) from the air.
The Fury 1500 UAV. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update
General Atomics family of UAVs displayed in models, showing the new, stealthy Avenger C in front, an armed Predator B Reaper in Royal Air Force colors, and the Customs and Border Protection maritime surveillance variant of the Predator B 'Guardian' which is displayed at the static area. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update
the Air Tractor on display at the Paris Airshow carries an impressive array of weapons. We expect to post more on this mighty plane tomorrow. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update
Iron dome is shown here for the first time in its new, mobile configuration. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update
The Chinese 'Wing Long' Predator size MALE UAV is displayed at the Paris Airshow 2011 in an armed configuration. Wing Long is designed for recce, ECM, and light ground attack missions. Maximum gross takeoff weight is 1,100kg with payload weight of 200 kg (350 kg with fuel). Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update
RAFAEL unveiled the Modular Integrated C4 Air Defense (MIC4AD) system integrating multiple air defense assets into a total 'aerial picture', enabling air force jets, helicopters, transports and civilian air traffic to operate safely and efficiently in an air space, crowded with air defense and missile defense assets, artillery fire and enemy activity... A full description of the new system will follow. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update
The new CN295 AEW&C will carry three radars - an AESA aerial surveillance radar mounted in the rotating dome, a maritime and surface search radar mounted in th bell and an IFF. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update
C-MUSIC employs a fiber-laser based DIRCM element designed to defeat a wide range of MANPADS threats. This close-up photo shows the beam aiming mirror assembly directing the laser beam toward the target. Photo: Tamir Eeshel, defense Update
Aeronautics ltd., one of Israel’s leading unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) providers is unveiling its newest platform – Orbiter 3 Small UAS at the Paris Airshow. The UAS is already operational, with first system formally delivered three weeks ago to an undisclosed customer. “The Orbiter 3 STUAS brings to the unmanned systems market capabilities that did not exist previously” said Ran Carmeli, Head of the Aerial Division at Aeronautics. “A field deployed, 25 kg electric powered UAS, can now deliver the same Intelligence, Surveillance Targeting and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) output achieved up to now only by much larger tactical UAS of a 100 kg and more.”
Aeronautics UAV’s Family. Top: the new Orbiter 3, center: D-42 Dominator, lower rigt: Aerostar and Orbiter I. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update
The Orbiter 3 SUAS is the largest variant of the Orbiterfamily of electric powered UAS. Its smaller variants, Orbiter 1 and 2 are deployed operationally worldwide by more than a dozen customers. The Orbiter 3, a member of Aeronautics’ Orbiter Mini-UAV family can stay in the air 7 hours, and reach ranges of more than a 100 km. It carries a wide range of payloads, including the latest multi-sensor stabilized payload TD-STAMP developed by Controp Precision Technologies. TD-STAMP comprises CCD camera, a high performance, cooled thermal imager (FLIR) and a laser designator, all packed into a compact, gyro stabilized mini payload.
TD STAMP multi sensor laser-designating payload mounted in semi-recessed configuration on the new Orbiter 3. The payload weighing only five kilograms has simultaneous day, night (cooled mini-FLIR) and laser designation capabilities. Photo: Tamir Eshel. Defense-Update
“I believe the Orbiter 3 STUAS will have great market success, moreover, it will dictate real changes in the UAS market.” said Aeronautics CEO Avi Leumi. “We receive constant demands for enhanced ISTAR capabilities, maintaining operational flexibility and small logistics – and that’s what the Orbiter 3 is all about.” Practically undetectable, Orbiters are used for a wide range of missions in land warfare including: ISTAR, artillery support, convoy protection and special ops. In the maritime arena, Orbiter serves as an independent ISTAR asset for naval vessels – launched and recovered from the ship’s deck.
Controp is unveiling at the Paris Air Show 2011 the TD STAMP, a new lightweight payload optimized for small UAVs. TD STAMP is displayed at the airshow on Aeronautics’s Orbiter 3 UAV, also making its international debut here. The new payload offers performance level comparable to much larger payloads, at a weight ranging from 2.8 kg for the dual-EO/IR version to five kg, for the dual EO/IR plus laser designation capability, making TD STAMP the lightest laser designating payload in tkhe market.
TD STAMP multi sensor payload mounted on the new Orbiter 3. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update
As an EO technology driven company, Controp Precision Technologies is developing EO payloads for use in airborne, land-based and naval applications. One of the company’s forte are lightweight, gyro-stabilized EO payloads developed for Small Unmanned Aerial vehicles (SUAV). About five years ago, Controp came out with the STAMP – small gyro-stabilized miniature payloads specially designed for SUAVs, developed with funding from Israel’s Ministry of Defense. Selected as the standard payload for the Sky Rider SUAVs operated by the IDF Artillery corps, STAMP payloads have proved their capabilities in operations in Israel and abroad. The STAMP payloads can all be installed by nose, top or belly mount on the carrying vehicle. These three-gimbal gyro stabilized payloads are not limited to SUAVs – they are also ideal for installation on board VTOLs, small balloons/aerostats and a variety of other air and land vehicles.
Through the years STAMP family was expanded to include a daylight (750 gr.), High Definition (STAMP-HD), and Uncooled IR models (U-STAMP), with and without zoom. To enable SUAV to rapidly cover large areas, D-STAMP day camera is now available with the new scanning mode operation. Supporting extended mission durations of modern SUAV, staying on missions for 5 or 6 hours, transitioning from daytime through twilight to nighttime on a single mission. The new M-STAMP includes a day camera, an uncooled dual FOV TI camera and a laser pointer all in a compact payload weighing less than 1.2kg. The M-STAMP model is currently being further miniaturized toward an objective weight of one kg. A larger EO payload is T-STAMP, a 2.8 kg payload mounting three sensors on a stabilized platform, offering high level of stabilization in three axes, cooled FLIR with continuous power zoom and CCD camera. The T-STAMP also comprises a line-of-sight stabilized inertial measurement unit enabling accurate geo-location of targets.
Aeronautics Orbiter 3 mounted with Controp
At the Paris Airshow Controp and Aeronautics are unveiling the latest version of T-STAMP, fitted with a laser designator designated ‘TD-STAMP’ weighing only five kilograms. This payload, the lightest of its class, is optimized for military VTOL operations providing a superior quality gyro-stabilized image. The new TD-STAMP fills what was previously a critical technological gap – now providing a lightweight payload with a Laser Designator for operational capabilities which are appropriate for small UAVs and VTOLs.