Textron has developed a modification to its Aerosonde unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to give it a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capability and will demonstrate it at sea this summer. The modification allows for more flexibility in operations and a reduction in footprint for launch and recovery equipment.
The Aerosonde HQ — Hybrid Quad — features four battery-driven rotors installed on the twin booms of the UAV that give it a VTOL capability. The modifications add 10 pounds to the weight of the UAV. The VTOL features eliminate the need for a launcher and a recovery net.
David Phillips, Textron’s vice president for Small and Medium UAS (unmanned aerial systems), told Seapower that Textron is prepared to bid on a Coast Guard ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) services requirement for a small unmanned aerial system to deploy on its national security cutters. The Aerosonde or its HQ version are options for the Coast Guard.
“We believe our system is well positioned,” Phillips said. “The capabilities of our system match rather well with their program.”
He said the HQ version will be “demonstrated in June from a Navy vessel.”
The 80-pound gross-weight Aerosonde can carry a 20-pound payload, including an electro-optical payload plus a 5-pound additional payload in a 700-cubic inch payload bay. The bay can handle modular payloads with open architecture, including signals intelligence systems. The center of gravity of the UAV can be adjusted to accommodate a payload.
The Aerosonde has a 16-hour endurance. The objective for the HQ version is 12 hours, so that two HQ versions could sustain 24/7 coverage from a single platform.
Phillips noted that the HQ version is intended to be highly mobile and its footprint is so small it could be launched from a vehicle such as a Humvee or a pickup truck.