90 systems will be fielded by the end of 2009
Honeywell (NYSE:HON) will deliver 90 Micro Air Vehicles (MAV) Block II under a $65 million production contract received this week. Once fielded next year, MAV will become the first system developed as part of the US Army ‘Future Combat Systems’ (FCS) program to enter operational service. Initial systems have already been deployed with US forces in Iraq.
In September 2009 Honeywell was awarded an additional $30 million contract to deliver 46 T-Hawk (Block II Micro Aerial Vehicle) systems. 40 of the systems are destined to the U.S. Navy and six to the British Ministry of Defence. The cost of the two systems differs significantly – while the unit cost of the U.S. T-Hawks systems remains around $700,000 a piece, the systems to be delivered to the UK cost British cost only $437,000 each. The gap could reflect the costs of different payload systems.
The MAV system recently received the trademark ‘T-Hawk’, can be carried in a backpack. It is equipped with video cameras and video datalink, relaying video images from the hovering MAV, directly to the operator’s handheld terminal. Each system consists of two air vehicles and one ground control unit. All systems are expected to be delivered through 2009, beginning in the second quarter. Honeywell is also offering a civilian version for law enforcement use; such systems are currently being evaluated by the Miami Dade Police Department.
The cylindrical vehicle weighs 17 pounds and measures 14 inches in diameter. It can hover at height, descend to inspect hazardous areas or perch at high vantage points, searching for threats without exposing warfighters to enemy fire. The T-Hawk is designed to operate over mission durations exceeding 40 minutes of flight, at maximum speed of 40 knots. It is capable of take off and land vertically from complex desert and urban terrains without using runways or helipads at altitudes of 7000 ft.
The system requires minimal operator training and includes two airborne vehicles and a portable ground station used to guide the aircraft and receive images from the cameras. The ground station can be used to program a flight path for the T-Hawk or control it manually. The aircraft also can be optionally equipped with electro-optical cameras for daylight operations or infrared cameras for night missions.