AAI Corporation, an operating unit of Textron Systems, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, announced today that it has successfully demonstrated its Aerosonde Mark 4.7 small unmanned aircraft system (SUAS) with a heavy fuel engine (HFE) at Fort Pickett in Virginia.
A heavy fuel propulsion system is a critical capability for both U.S. and international armed services. Maritime forces like the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard benefit because kerosene-based fuels are less flammable than gasoline in shipboard environments. Services with both land- and air-based missions, such as the U.S. Army, can embrace a "one fuel forward" concept by transitioning to a single fuel for all of their assets, minimizing cost and logistics.
The larger HFE delivers a significant increase in electrical power, generating higher horsepower and enabling the Aerosonde Mark 4.7 aircraft to carry additional payloads with greater electrical demands. Increased horsepower also contributes to improvements in aircraft performance including climb rate, dash speed, mission endurance and altitude performance.
"Our integration of a heavy fuel propulsion system onto the Aerosonde Mark 4.7 SUAS promises users increased performance, mission flexibility and convenience," says Division Vice President, Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Stephen Flach of AAI. "This successful HFE demonstration is an important milestone, and just one example of how we look to continuously mature our systems' capabilities to anticipate customer needs."
The Aerosonde Mark 4.7 SUAS is a cost-effective, high-endurance platform designed for fast, easy launch and recovery from shipboard or small clearings. It incorporates AAI's unique Launch and Recovery Trailer, comprised of an AAI-proprietary Sliding Frame Launcher and hydraulically actuated Soft Hands™ Net Recovery System. The Launch and Recovery Trailer provides automatic aircraft launch and recovery, minimizes risk of aircraft damage during recovery, and streamlines shipboard operations.
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