31 Mar 16. Alpha Design to Assemble Hermes in India. Elbit Systems and Alpha Design company of India announced Wednesday an agreement to build Hermes 900 and Hermes 450 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in India, for domestic customers and for export. The two companies are likely to offer the Israeli UAV solution for the Indian Army requirement for tactical drones, missions currently fulfilled by IAI Searcher MK I and MK II and DRDO Nishant systems. Hermes 900 and Hermes 450 share many common attributes, both on the platform and ground operations and support infrastructure. The fleet of Hermes drones has a track record of over 500,000 accumulated flight hours. Among the key capabilities offered by the Hermes 900 are longer endurance, flight altitude of 30,000 ft. and a large payload capacity (up to 350kg). A unique 2.5 meter long internal payload bay is provided, capable of accommodating up to 250 kg and allowing quick modular payload installation and replacement, as well as additional payload installation capacity including four hard points under the wings. The UAS includes innovative avionics and electronic systems, a low noise engine, as well as solutions that can be offered for sense and avoid capabilities and safe integration of the UAS into the relevant air space. (Source: UAS VISION/Defense Update)
29 Mar 16. China reveals data on VD200 flying-wing VTUAV. China’s Chengdu Aircraft Research and Design Institute (CARDI) revealed more details about its VD200 flying-wing vertical take-off unmanned aerial vehicle (VTUAV) on Chinese state television on 22 March.
A flying-wing configuration offers storage and performance advantages over similarly sized helicopter-configured VTUAVs. Propelled by twin 2 m diameter rotors, the flying wing design allows the UAV to take off and land vertically, transitioning into and out of horizontal flight. The VD200 was first seen in model form at an October 2013 international trade fair in Chengdu, China. The latest television coverage shows what may be a scaled-down prototype under construction in a Chengdu Aircraft Corporation hanger. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
29 Mar 16. FIDAE 2016: Insitu touts tactical UAS portfolio for regional requirements. US company and Boeing subsidiary Insitu is using the occasion of the FIDAE Airshow 2016 to tout its range of tactical unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) to Chile and the wider Latin American region.
The Oregon-based company is showcasing its ScanEagle and Integrator (designated RQ-21A Blackjack in US Marine Corps service) at the Latin American aerospace defence event running at Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport from 29 March to 3 April.
IHS Jane’s Markets Forecast projects a future Latin American requirement of 249 tactical-class UASs out to 2025, valued at approximately USD139m.
Latin America as a region has a string military and civil requirement for UASs of all classes, but in particular for the smaller tactical platforms that are cheaper to procure and easier to operate and sustain.
These are needed for such roles as border and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) surveillance, search and rescue, humanitarian and disaster relief (HDR), and counter-narcotics among others.
In terms of its portfolio, Insitu’s ScanEagle is very much the class leader with 16 operators worldwide (plus a reverse-engineered version fielded by the Iranians). It is 1.2m long, has a wingspan of 3m and is launched using a pneumatic wedge catapult. It has a service ceiling of 10,000ft, an endurance in excess of 20 hours, and is equipped with electro-optical / infrared (EO/IR) and high-resolution video cameras that allow the operator to track both stationary and moving targets. For retrieval, the UAV snags a rope attached to a 15m pole, known as the Skyhook system.
Currently in its Block 2 configuration, the Integrator is essentially a larger and more capable version of the ScanEagle. It is 2.2m in length and with a wingspan of 4.8m, and can cruise for 24 hours