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.


 
 

 

Hurricane Hunters to fly Tropical Storm Erika

The Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters are operating out of Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., flying their state-of-the-art WC-130J Super Hercules into Tropical Storm Erika in support of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron flew four missions into the tropical storm from their deployed location at St. Croix in the...
 
 

Pentagon probing alleged distorting of war intelligence

The Pentagon’s inspector general is investigating an allegation that the military command overseeing the anti-Islamic State campaign distorted or altered intelligence assessments to exaggerate progress against the militant group, a defense official said Aug. 26. The official was not authorized to discuss the probe publicly and so spoke on condition of anonymity. The investigation was...
 
 
LM-C130

U.S. Air Force receives additional MC-130J Commando II

MARIETTA, Ga., Aug. 27, 2015 – A crew from the U.S. Air Force Aug. 27 ferried a new MC-130J Commando II aircraft assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command to Cannon Air Force Base, N.., from the Lockheed Martin facilit...
 

 
af-uav4

Arming the RPAs

Air Force photograph by TSgt. Joseph Swafford A1C Matthew Lopez (center), 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron munitions systems technician, builds a GPS-guided GBU-49 bomb at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 15, 2015...
 
 
dragon-lady1

Local efforts help keep Dragon Lady flying at 60

Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Bobby Cummings A U-2 Dragon Lady soars above the flightline at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., Jan. 22, 2014. The low-altitude handling characteristics of the aircraft and bicycle-type lan...
 
 
Air Force photograph

U.S. Navy awards production contract for additional P-8A aircraft, first RAAF planes

Air Force photograph A P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft parked on the tarmac during a BALTOPS 2015 mission on the flightline of Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, June 9, 2015. The U.S. Navy awarded a nearl...
 




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=""> <s> <strike> <strong>