DRS – ‘ESTABLISHING UAV TECHNOLGY’
By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE
26 Mar 07. BATTLE SPACE met Al Dietrich who heads up DRS Intelligence Technologies and Stan Powell, business development for DRS Unmanned Technologies at the AUSA Winter Meeting in Florida.
DRS Technologies, Inc acquired its UAV business from Meggitt Defense Systems in 2002 to develop a new business line specializing in UAVs. The UAV business is part of DRS’s C4I Segment which has given us huge benefits in leveraging sensor technologies developed and manufactured by several DRS plants for our UAV payloads for our Sentry HP and Neptune unmanned aerial systems (UAS), “Al Dietrich told BATTLESPACE.
DRS Unmanned Technologies, Inc.(DRS-UT) comes from S-Tec Unmanned Technologies, Inc. The S-Tec Corporation, now S-Tec Meggitt Avionics, develops aircraft autopilot systems and was founded in the late 1970s. S-Tec started manufacturing UAVs in the mid 1980s. The 11 ft wingspan, 250 lb gross weight Sentry UAV was manufactured for 15 years until the Sentry HP became the choice for customers in the year 2000. Like the Sentry, the Sentry HP is very aerodynamic, rugged, has modular carbon fiber construction, and easily repaired and serviced in the field, thus maintaining its versatility and simplicity as a tactical UAV.
The Sentry HP started with the Block 10 in 2001, then the Block 20 in 2003, and now the Block 30 in 2007. The Sentry HP is larger, with greater payload capacity and under-wing stores capability. The Block 10 and 20 UAS were 325 lb gross weight systems with a variant of fixed and retractable landing gear. The autopilot, avionics, subsystems, and components have been upgraded through each Block upgrade to the present Block 30 which has new data link radios, larger fuel injected engine, upgraded autopilot, and enhanced ground control stations.
The Sentry HP and Neptune UAS use a portable ground control station that provides a capability to perform mission planning, vehicle launch mission control and recovery. Through proven mission planning, a programmed flight can be performed with over 250 waypoints available. The system provides an in-flight updated capability of these waypoints, plus a direct control mode for the air vehicle and payload.
The Sentry Family has operated under field conditions as well as conducting numerous “first” in utilizing UAVs for weapons delivery. The Sentry was launched from a C-130 aircraft, flew to a target, provided target location to the C-130 which fired a Hellfire missile and destroyed the target. The Sentry then flew over the target area and provided target damage assessment back to the control station. The utilization of the Sentry UAS with a camera sensor allowed the manned C-130 to operate out the battlefield area in at a safe distance from the action.
The UAV Battle Lab selected DRS-UT to conduct the Textron BLU-108 Sensor Fuzed Weapon (SFW) anti-armor submunition using the Sentry HP. After release in the target area, the cylindrical SFW pops out a small parachute to orient itself and then fires out four “skeet” projectiles in four directions. The skeets have an infrared sensor to detect when they are flying over the top of an armored vehicle then the shaped charge copper plate forms a plasma jet that melts through the armor.
Sentry HP Specifications:
Overall length: 6.8ft
Wing area: 31.4sq.ft.
Speed: dash speed 110 knots; loiter: 111 km/h (65/75 knots)
Range: 150km (8 nm)
Propulsion: 2-stroke piston engine; 21kW ( 28 hp) Blocks 10 &20
Propulsion: 2-stroke piston engine; 28kW (38 hp) Block 30
Max Payload: 2cu.ft.
Payload Weight: 75lbs.
Another UAV by DRS-UT is the Neptune, which is specially suited for operations over water. The first flight occurred in 2002. Five Neptune I (RQ-15A) systems have been delivered. The Neptune UAV fills the current USSOCOM VCUAS POR requirement and is based on the Sentry architecture.