Jet-powered drone tested by BAE Systems

By Richard Tomkins  |  Dec. 13, 2017 at 11:51 AM
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Dec. 13 (UPI) -- BAE Systems and The University of Manchester have conducted initial flight trials on a jet-powered unmanned aerial vehicle with a unique maneuvering system.

BAE's Magma UAV utilizes wing circulation control, which uses air from the aircraft engine and blows it supersonically through the trailing edge of the wing, to provide control for the aircraft and fluidic thrust vectoring for change of direction.

The maneuvering concept for the aircraft's controls removes the conventional need for mechanical moving parts used to move flaps that control the aircraft during flight, reducing weight and maintenance costs and allowing for lighter, stealthier, and faster flight, the company says.

"The technologies we are developing with The University of Manchester will make it possible to design cheaper, higher performance, next-generation aircraft," Clyde Warsop, an engineering fellow at BAE Systems, said in a press release. "Our investment in research and development drives continued technological improvements in our advanced military aircraft, helping to ensure UK aerospace remains at the forefront of the industry and that we retain the right skills to design and build the aircraft of the future."

BAE said additional technologies to improve the performance of the UAV are being explored in collaboration with the University of Arizona and NATO Science and Technology Organization.

"These trials are an important step forward in our efforts to explore adaptable airframes," said Bill Crowther, a senior academic and leader of the MAGMA project at the University of Manchester. "What we are seeking to do through this program is truly groundbreaking."

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