Lockheed Micro-Quadcopter and Other Things AUVSI 2012

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The biggest unmanned-industry show of the year, AUVSI's Unmanned Systems North America 2012, has kicked off here at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas with Lockheed Martin joining the seemingly already-overcrowded quadcopter micro-UAV market.

Photo: Lockheed Martin

Procerus Technologies, a mini-UAV autopilot specialist that Lockheed acquired in January, has unveiled the 5lb battery-powered VTOL perch-and-stare UAV, which can fly for 40min and carry a gimballed EO/IR sensor with laser illuminator. Lockheed touts the UAV's quiet operation, day/night capability and "longer operating time than other VTOL platforms".


Photo: Elbit Systems

Also making a debut at AUVSI is Elbit Systems of America's hand-launched Skylark I-LE Block II. This has been developed in the US by UAS Dynamics, which Elbit purchased from co-owner General Dynamics in December after the joint venture failed to win the Navy's STUAS competition. The Block II bird has a more powerful electric motor driving a three-blade prop, 3-hr. endurance, and a new EO/IR sensor and datalink aimed at the US market.

Photo: Silent Falcon UAS Technologies

Another newcomer is the Silent Falcon, a solar-electric long-endurance tactical UAS developed by the eponymous Silent Falcon UAS Technologies and Bye Aerospace. The hand-launched Silent Falcon comes with three sizes of solar-cell-covered wing, giving it an endurance ranging from 6hr to 14hr. Deliveries are planned to begin early in 2103, according to the company's website.

Photo: MLB

And finally MLB is to build and fly an 8ft-wingspan version of its V-bat long-endurance VTOL tactical UAV under a Phase 2 Small Business Innovation Research contract from the US Air Force Research Laboratory. With a 55 lb. gross weight, the shrouded-fan taillsitter UAV will have an endurance of 10 hr. and cruise speed of 70 mph in wingborne flight. Brigham Young University with develop control algorithms and AAI will prepare the UAV for low-rate initial production.

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