Defense

September 11, 2012

New expeditionary UAV takes off from China Lake, sans runway

Navy and Insitu personnel lift the RQ-21A Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System on to launcher in preparation for flight at Naval Air Station China Lake, Calif., Sept. 10.

The Navy successfully launched its newest small unmanned aircraft without using a runway Sept. 10 at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Calif.

A little more than two years into its engineering, manufacturing and development phase, the RQ-21A Small Tactical Unmanned Air System entered developmental test at China Lake, beginning with a 66-minute flight Sept. 10.

During the initial developmental flight test at the weapons station, operators flew the RQ-21A using a unique pneumatic launcher and a recovery system known as Skyhook. This system, developed by Insitu, Inc., eliminates the need for runways and enables a safe recovery and expeditionary capability for tactical missions on land or sea.

The RQ-21A uses a unique pneumatic launcher and a recovery system known as Skyhook. This system eliminates the need for runways and enables a safe recovery and expeditionary capability for tactical missions on land or sea.

“The flight at China Lake marks the start of a new test phase for RQ-21A STUAS, the first expeditionary, multi-intelligence UAS in its class,” said Col. Jim Rector, STUAS program manager at Patuxent River, Md. “Developmental test will be fast-paced, like the rest of the program has been. We are on track for initial operational capability in 2013.”

Sailors and Marines from from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 30 at China Lake are not the first to experience the expeditionary “no runway” solution. Three hours southeast of the base, Marines at Twentynine Palms are already training with an RQ-21A Early Operational Capability system. The CONUS-based deployment allows the Navy and Marines to train units and operators, collect additional performance data and identify opportunities to expand the flight envelope.

“Marines are getting experience on how to operate and use the system while our team is collecting valuable data,” Rector said. “Lessons learned from this deployment will be directly applied to the program of record. EOC helps us mitigate and evaluate risks early on.”

While both RQ-21A variants are similar to operate, the RQ-21A STUAS is more robust. RQ-21A EOC uses long-wave infrared camera, which will be replaced with mid-wave infrared camera for production. The upgraded variant also adds enhanced features for operational security and an automatic identification system for maritime missions.

RQ-21A provides expanded payload capacity and rapid payload integration so that the war fighter can use the most advanced, and relevant, payload for their unique land and maritime missions and counter-warfare actions. The platform provides persistent maritime and land-based tactical Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition data collection and dissemination capabilities to the war fighter.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Air Force photograph by Rick Goodfriend

AFRL offering prize for turbine engine development

Air Force photograph by Rick Goodfriend Discover meetings to be held in Ohio on March 24-25. The Air Force Research Laboratory is leading the first Air Force technology prize, issuing a challenge to develop a small, efficient t...
 
 
Army photograph

Army Research Laboratory lays out science and technology priorities through 2019

Army photograph Dr. Rick Beyer, propulsion science expert, aligns a sample in a Bruker Wide-angle X-ray scattering camera at the Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi, Md. The laboratory recently released its technical implementa...
 
 
Air Force photograph by A1C Dillian Bamman

‘Iron Horse’ sets off for final flight

Air Force photograph by A1C Dillian Bamman Aircraft 62-1863 ‘Iron Horse’, a HC-130P Combat King, rests before takeoff Mar. 3, 2015, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Throughout its career, Iron Horse has flown for over 27,000 ho...
 

 
SikorskyBoeing

Army engineers define future aviation fleet

Army graphic by AMRDEC VizLab An artist’s conception of future Army rotorcraft is shown. The U.S. Army science and technology community is charting the future of military vertical lift aviation that will enable warfighter...
 
 

AF responds to National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force

The Air Force responded to the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force’s recommendations in a report to Congress March 4. Of the Commission’s 42 recommendations, Air Force officials disagreed with only one and are already in the process of implementing 25, as well as developing plans or pilot programs for another 16....
 
 

USO Visit

Air Force photograph by Jet Fabara Actor Vince Vaughn speaks with Edwards Airmen and 412th Security Forces Squadron members at the base library before introducing an advance screening of his new movie, “Unfinished Business,” at the base theater Feb. 28.
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>