Warrior (Aero-Marine) Ltd began flying of the first 4.0 meter span Gull 36 UAV in the English Channel. The Gull’s design utilizes Warrior’s unique ‘stepless’ seaplane hull, enabling the flying boat to handle twice as large waves as equivalent seaplanes.
“Both the hull and configuration contribute to the Gull working effectively in common sea conditions.” said James Labouchere, CEO of Warrior Aero-Marine. “Its wave-piercing ability enables useful taxi speeds for surface operations and the Gull uses wave profiles to its advantage for take-off.” he added that the Gull is the first UAV seaplane that has been conceived and developed for both the coastal and offshore environment. No other published concept that we have seen can even approach the Gull’s combination of performance and seamanship.
New opportunities arise from the Gull combining boat functions and aircraft cruise performance, and switching spontaneously between aerial and surface functions. This combination enables surface work to be achieved at higher speeds than any vessel, and greater effect is won by the use of aerial detection and reconnaissance during transit.
These attributes offer exceptional capabilities for sampling, persistent tracking and observation of surface and subsurface targets. They will also enable fast remote insertion/extraction of small secondary unmanned surface and underwater vessels.
Combined with its use from lake, river and shore, and dirt strips with amphibious gear, the Gull is expected to achieve tasks that currently need multiple vehicle types and complex communications. In doing so, the GullL will enable a robust multi-role solution with a minimum of communications and one-stage data processing, to then transmit usable information and instruction.
To simplify deployment from ships at sea, the Gull could use the sled interface also developed by Warrior. Developed with the support of UK Defence Technology Centre R&D funds, Warrior developed and tested a towed-sled Launch and Recovery System. The SledLARS system can automatically launch and recover a fast-taxiing seaplane UAV (or a USV) from either the beam or stern of a parent vessel. This can be done while under high speed tow and on any point of wind. This removes the need for deck-mounted equipment for either launch or recovery, enables the GULL to be operated from both small and large vessels and allows ships’ other aerial activities to continue simultaneously with little or no interference.