AAI Corporation is offering the Aerosonde Mark 4.7 Small UAV as its contender for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps’ joint Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (STUAS)/Tier II program. The expeditionary Mark 4.7 system participated in flight demonstrations on June 23-24 at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. The new vehicle joins a family of Aerosonde SUAS which already includes the Mark 4.4 and Mark 5.0. Aerosonde 4.7 was introduced earlier this year in Australia.
According to the manufacturer, the new vehicle incorporates several additions in the aircraft design, ground control and system features designed with the Navy’s and Marine Corps’ mission requirements in mind. To support expeditionary deployment, the system uses an integrated launch and recovery system enabling fast, flexible ground and/or shipboard automated launch and recovery capability. The modular payload installation allows the rapid addition of new payloads and capabilities as they become available, enabling technology refresh with little to no aircraft or system modifications. For the ground control system the company is offering the Expeditionary Ground Control Station (EGCS), based on the 4586-compliant ‘One System’ design AAI developed for the U.S. Army. AAI comments that this architecture will support interoperability between the Aerosonde Mark 4.7 and other One System platforms, including the Shadow Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (TUAS) already used by the Army and U.S. Marine Corps.
In May 2009 AAI demonstrated a simultaneous mission comprising three UAVs small unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS) at the Smoky Hill Air National Guard Range. The company launched the Aerosonde Mark 4-series aircraft that completed a fully autonomous flight from takeoff to landing, operating at 4,500 feet using an electro-optic (EO) payload. At the same time, two Orbiter electric-powered mini-UAVs were operating with the Aerosonde aircraft. One Orbiter flew at 1,500 feet utilizing an EO payload, while another Orbiter aircraft flew at 1,000 feet with an infrared payload. Real-time video was relayed directly to users on the ground AAI’s One System Remote Video Terminal (OSRVT). This demonstration with Flint Hills Solutions LLC took place in conjunction with the 2009 Kansas Unmanned Systems Symposium.
Aerosonde 4.7 Demonstrates Operations At Sea
The Aerosonde Mark 4.7 small unmanned aircraft system (SUAS) has completed a week flight operations aboard the M-80 Stiletto, a maritime demonstration test bed. The successful test involved multiple launches and recoveries aboard the vessel. The Stiletto shipboard trials involved testing Aerosonde integrated launch and recovery system, proposed by Textron Systems/AAI for the Navy/Marine Corps STUAS program.
The shipboard Aerosonde Mark 4.7 SUAS includes the integrated launch and recovery system; the Mark 4.7 aircraft with enhanced, leading-edge wings; on-the-move navigation; automatic takeoff and landing capability; and shipboard integration to the command and control center. The integrated, one-piece launch and recovery system easily fits aboard small ships without necessitating shipboard alterations.
“Our Aerosonde Mark 4.7 SUAS delivers powerful benefits for the maritime services including long endurance and unmatched multiple-payload flexibility with superior video and communication relay capabilities,” says AAI Division Vice President, Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Stephen Flach. “In addition, its single-piece launch and recovery system enables the aircraft to execute missions from even the smallest ships.”