Defense

March 20, 2013

Unmanned air system takes first flight at sea

Tags:
PO3 Sabrina Fine
USS Mesa Verde

Members of the RQ-21A Small Tactical Unmanned Air System (STUAS) test team transport the RQ-21A across the flight deck of the amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) after its first flight at sea. Mesa Verde is underway conducting exercises

San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) launched a RQ-21A Small Tactical Unmanned Air System recently, for its first flight at sea.

The STUAS completed four fly-bys around the ship before recovering with the STUAS Recovery System, a cable apparatus the aircraft latches to for recovery.

The STUAS completed three months of land-based trial flights aboard Naval Air Warfare Center in China Lake, Calif., before launching from a San Antonio-class amphibious landing dock ship.

“This is a significant event because the program is getting ready to achieve a major acquisition milestone,” said Gregory Oliver, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) lead test engineer. “This testing we are doing supports the ability to continue on with the development phase before a production phase.”

The RQ-21A Small Tactical Unmanned Air System (STUAS) is recovered with the flight recovery apparatus cable aboard the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) after its first flight at sea. Mesa Verde is underway conducting exercises.

The Mesa Verde hosted members of the STUAS team from the company, Insitu, that built the aircraft and from NAVAIR during the sea trials.

“They helped us out, we helped them out, and we made a great team,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 3rd Class (SW) Travis Starr.

The successful launch required the ship’s crew and the STUAS team to coordinate with each other for launch and recovery.

“Some challenges were getting the air space we needed and making sure we could get proper wind conditions for launch and recovery,” said Oliver.

Other circumstances needed to be considered while flying at sea as opposed to on land.

“We learned a lot about its handling qualities and how it flies around the ship,” said Oliver.

The initial installation took months to plan and install.

“There was a lot of preparing that had to be done for ship integration,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kyle Matthew, STUAS detachment officer in charge, project officer, and U.S. naval test pilot. “The biggest parts were to install and integrate the Ground Control Station into the ship infrastructure, which included installing various antennas onto the ship’s deck and masts.”

The MKIV launcher prepares to launch the RQ-21A Small Tactical Unmanned Air System from the flight deck of the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) for its first flight at sea. Mesa Verde is underway conducting exercises.

Next, the team had to find a secure and safe place for the launch and recovery system as well as train the crew how to move and emplace it, said Matthew.

“The launch and recovery equipment were never on a ship before, so we didn’t know if they were going to be able to make the angles up, the ramps and the turns,” said Starr.

The flight was a success and a learning experience for both the ship’s crew and NAVAIR.

“We learned what the aircraft and its support equipment can and cannot do, flying qualities during launch and recovery, system performance while aloft and how better to work with the ships crew,” said Matthew.

NAVAIR has a goal for STUAS flight first from large LPD ships, and then possibly smaller ships in the fleet.

“I see STUAS being operated by the capable hands of U.S. Navy Sailors and Marines,” said Matthew. “This system, when ready, will be a tremendous asset to the fleet and myself, and my test team are proud to be a part of that,” said Matthew.

Mesa Verde reached a historic milestone for the future of unmanned aircraft launching from ships in the Navy.

“[We are] very pleased to be working with Mesa Verde and want to thank the captain and crew for supporting us while we are out here,” said Oliver.

Mesa Verde is underway conducting exercises at sea.




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


 
 

 

Acquisition community works to improve tradecraft

Everything the defense acquisition community is doing now is being done to improve its tradecraft, Katrina G. McFarland, the assistant secretary of defense for acquisition said April 16. McFarland made the comments at the National Defense Industrial Associations National Logistics Forum. Improving tradecraft is something DOD would want to do in the best of times,...
 
 
B1a

B-1B software upgrade to ensure future warfighting capabilities

Air Force photograph by Ethan Wagner An Edwards B-1B Lancer takes off on April 1, 2014, to begin testing its new Sustainment Block 16A software upgrades. The SB 16A software will work in conjunction with the long-range bomberĂ­...
 
 

45th Space Wing launches NRO Satellite on board Atlas V

The 45th Space Wing successfully launched a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., at 1:45 p.m. April 10 carrying a classified national security payload. The payload was designed and built by the National Reconnaissance Office. “I am proud of the persistence and focus of the...
 

 
Air Force photograph by SSgt. Carlin Leslie

Smarter spending for Air Force acquisitions

Air Force photograph by SSgt. Carlin Leslie Maj. Gen. Wendy Masiello briefs attendees April 16, 2014, on how today’s budget environment is driving change for both government and industry as part of the Air Force Associati...
 
 
DOD photograph by Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Hostutler

U.S., Poland defense leaders find new areas for cooperation

DOD photograph by Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Hostutler Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel hosts a press briefing with Poland’s Minister of National Defense Tomasz Siemoniak at the Pentagon, April 17, 2014. Amid deep concerns about...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Richard Eldridge

Air Force researchers test Google Glass for battlefield use

Air Force photograph by Richard Eldridge Dr. Gregory Burnett, middle, and Andres Calvo, right, analyze a graphic representation of movement trackers, as 2nd Lt. Krystin Shanklin tests Google Glass at Wright-Patterson Air Force ...
 




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>