Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
12 Sep 22. Protector Completes Acceptance Test Procedures. Acceptance Test Procedures (ATP) for the first Protector RG Mk1 Remotely Piloted Aircraft system was completed on Aug. 26, 2022. Completion of ATP allows for the official hand-over of the aircraft to the UK Royal Air Force, the launch customer of the MQ-9B RPA system developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc..
Protector is a specially configured model of MQ-9B, designed to meet the unique requirements of the RAF.
The aircraft was formally accepted by Air Vice Marshal Simon Ellard, Director Combat Air at Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), the procurement arm of the UK Ministry of Defence.
“It is a great pleasure to accept the official handover of the first Protector aircraft on behalf of the MOD, following the successful completion of Acceptance Test Procedures. We now look forward to the first delivery of this highly capable aircraft type to RAF Waddington during 2023,” he said.
RAF Air Commodore Alex Hicks said: “The acceptance of the first Protector aircraft is a significant and exciting milestone in the delivery of this world-class capability to the Royal Air Force. The aircraft will be used to train RAF technicians how to maintain the capability, prior to the arrival of the first aircraft in the UK next year.”
ATP was performed jointly by the UK Ministry of Defence and GA-ASI following the completion of the aircraft production and acceptance procedures. ATP includes all inspections and tests performed on the hardware in operation for the aircraft and in conformance with the functional specification and technical requirements. Over the past two months, ATP has been performed at GA-ASI’s Desert Horizon flight operations facility in El Mirage, Calif. The aircraft will remain in the U.S. to support maintenance and pilot training.
ATP was also completed on the first two sets of Portable Pre-flight and Post-flight Equipment (P3Es). P3E is ground support equipment that replaces the legacy Ruggedized Aircraft Maintenance Test Station (RAMTS) used to support MQ-9A. It is used for ground testing and maintenance operations with a direct-connect to the aircraft.
“This is another major milestone for MQ-9B and the Protector program,” said GA-ASI President David R. Alexander. “The Royal Air Force has been a great partner for General Atomics, and we’re thrilled to see ATP completed for this first customer aircraft.”
MQ-9B represents the next generation of RPA systems, having demonstrated airborne endurance of more than 40 hours in certain configurations, automatic takeoffs and landings under SATCOM-only control, as well as a GA-ASI developed Detect and Avoid system. Its development is the result of a company-funded effort to deliver an RPA that can meet the stringent airworthiness certification requirements of various military and civil authorities.
MQ-9B has garnered significant interest from customers throughout the world. After the UK Ministry of Defence selected MQ-9B SkyGuardian® for its Protector program, the Belgian Ministry of Defense signed a contract for SkyGuardian. Later this year, the Japan Coast Guard will begin operations using the MQ-9B in the SeaGuardian configuration. (Source: UAS VISION)
13 Sep 22. AeroVironment Introduces Next-Generation All-Electric VAPOR 55 MX Helicopter Unmanned Aircraft System, Built for Heavier Payloads and Longer Distances.
- Next-generation VAPOR 55 delivers more simplified, modular design with performance improvements that optimize user experience
- Redesigned for increased levels of operational efficiency with 25 percent increased endurance and 20 percent increased payload capacity
- New payload interface and tool-free quick rail mount enables quick and easy field integration of both current and future payloads for increased mission flexibility
AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV), a global leader in intelligent, multi-domain robotic systems, today announced the launch of the next-generation VAPOR® Helicopter unmanned aircraft system (UAS), VAPOR 55 MX. Delivering new levels of operational performance with a completely redesigned modular autonomy framework, VAPOR 55 MX enables increased endurance and expanded payload capacity to meet current and emerging needs of defense, commercial and industrial customers.
“The new VAPOR 55 MX is an easy-to-maintain system that incorporates a highly versatile modular architecture and tool-free rail system for simple, efficient integration of third-party or custom payloads, allowing users to adapt to multi-sensor, multi-mission requirements including utility inspection, aerial surveying, public safety and defense applications,” said Trace Stevenson, AeroVironment vice president and product line general manager for small UAS.
Built on the class-leading endurance and payload weight performance of its predecessor, VAPOR 55 MX features a new sleek and efficient low-profile design that enables the helicopter UAS to stay in the air 25 percent longer and operate in all weather. VAPOR 55 MX is heavy-lift capable and its increased usable payload capacity allows users to choose from single or multiple payload configurations.
This expansive modular payload bay can carry up to 12 pounds of payload with more than 70 minutes of flight endurance while still maintaining the 55-pound gross take-off weight (GTOW) restricted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for commercial customers. For military customers that require more take-off weight, VAPOR 55 MX is capable of a 65-pound GTOW and can carry up to 22 pounds of usable payloads with a reduced endurance trade-off, nearing the edge of Group 3 weight class.
To learn more about the all-electric VAPOR 55 MX Helicopter UAS, visit www.avinc.com/uas/vapor. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
The British Robotics Seed Fund is the first SEIS-qualifying investment fund specialising in UK-based robotics businesses. The focus of the fund is to deliver superior returns to investors by making targeted investments in a mixed basket of the most innovative and disruptive businesses that are exploiting the new generation of robotics technologies in defence and other sector applications.
Automation and robotisation are beginning to drive significant productivity improvements in the global economy heralding a new industrial revolution. The fund allows investors to benefit from this exciting opportunity, whilst also delivering the extremely attractive tax reliefs offered by the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). For many private investors, the amount of specialist knowledge required to assess investments in robotics is not practical and hence investing through a fund structure makes good sense.
The fund appoints expert mentors to work with each investee company to further maximise the chance of success for investors. Further details are available on request.