unmanned vehicles are being proposed to carry heavy cargo mission,
such as tanks, armored vehicles and supply logistics over long
distances, as well as from ship to shore hauling heavy vehicles
and outsized cargo loads. Two concepts were unveiled at AUVSI
07 - the Hybrid Unmanned Air Vehicle (HUAV), developed by Lockheed
Martin, and the T-Craft, designed by General Dynamics. (more...)
Combining buoyancy and aerodynamic lift,
HUAV is creating an aircraft capable of carrying payloads of
up to 2,500 – 12,000 pounds to an altitude of 20,000 ft,
maintaining long persistence over the target area, at costs
significantly lower than other manned or unmanned platforms.
While the 250 foot long HUAV is designed for long persistence,
cruising slowly at about 20 knots, it will also be able to move
from one location to another at a top speed of 60 knots. HUAV
will be ideally suited for long dwell missions (over 7 days
without refueling) over low-threat environments. The large volume
available for the payload enables the integration of sensors
having very large aperture (up to 100 ft long, 20 ft wide).
According to Lockheed Martin, the HUAV could be fully developed
within 24 – 30 months and, if sufficiently funded, could
fly by 2010.
Lockheed Martin is also planning a much larger version of the
hybrid aircraft, capable of delivering heavy cargo over a range
of 2,000 miles. The hybrid airship/aircraft will be constructed
from high-strength fabrics providing buoyancy and aerodynamic
lift. Its large size will accommodate outsized cargo, or 10
– 14 standard pallets weighing up to 50 tons. It will
be equipped with four pusher thrust vectoring propellers and
a landing system utilizing four air cushions enabling the airship
to be airfield independent, land and takeoff from short unprepared
surfaces. The crew controlling the hybrid aircraft will use
on board weather monitoring and route planning to establish
the best, safest flight route for the aircraft.
Completely different concept is pursued by General Dynamics,
with the T-Craft Captive Air Amphibious Transporter (CAAT).
The program addresses the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Seabasing
Innovative Naval Prototype program, with an unmanned floating
vessel capable of transverse sand bar and mud flats, offering
the US Marines Corps with 'feet dry on the beach" capability.
CAAT will be able to carry twice the load of current amphibious
landing crafts (LCAC), deployed from flat bed vessels such as
LHDs and future Catamaran landing support ships. At AUVSI CAAT
was displayed wit a load of two M-1 tanks and two HMMWVs. The
autonomously controlled vessels will be propelled by linked
buoyant cells forming a track-like propulsion system. Each vessel
will have two tracks enabling forward and backward motion and
steering by differential movement. The CAAT concept is currently
under evaluation and, if funded, could become reality within
a few years.
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