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Textron adds VTOL capability to Aerosonde unmanned aerial system

Textron Systems' Unmanned Systems business has successfully added a vertical takeoff-and-landing capability to the Aerosonde small unmanned aerial system.

By Richard Tomkins
Textron adds VTOL capability to Aerosonde unmanned aerial system
An Aerosonde SUAS being readied for flight. U.S. Army photo

HUNT VALLEY, Md., April 29 (UPI) -- Textron Systems Unmanned Systems says its Aerosonde Small Unmanned Aircraft System has successfully been flown with a hybrid quadrotor.

The hybrid quadrotor provided the SUAS with a vertical takeoff and landing capability for the test, which was a proof-of-concept demonstration.

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"With its size, endurance and power, as well as experience in harsh environments from desert heat to the Arctic air, the Aerosonde SUAS has already proven its multi-mission capabilities," said Vice President of Small/Medium Endurance Unmanned Aircraft Systems David Phillips. "Now, with the potential to add VTOL capabilities, the mission possibilities are almost endless. The system could be launched from the smallest operational areas -- adding an array of applications both on land and at sea."

The Aerosonde SUAS, currently launched by a catapult, is a multi-mission vehicle that simultaneously supports electro-optical/infrared full-motion video, communications relay, automatic identification systems, and intelligence payloads.

The aircraft has a speed of about 45 miles per hour and a service ceiling of about 15,000 feet. It uses a purpose-built Lycoming EL-005 Heavy Fuel Engine and has logged more than 130,000 flight hours in commercial and military operations.

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Textron said its proof-of-concept work to add a VTOL capability to the vehicle system has been performed with assistance from Latitude Engineering and Cloud Cap Technology.

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