AAI's Shadow 200 TUAV System ScoresFirst Successful Automatic Landings
(Source : AAI Corp. ; issued Nov. 1, 2000)
ABERDEEN, Md.---AAI Corporation today reported that its Shadow 200 Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (TUAV) system recently achieved a significant milestone in developmental testing, when it successfully completed a series of fully automatic landings during the first trial of its TUAV Automatic Landing System (TALS).
The initial TALS landings took place on Sunday, Oct. 22, during a 1.8-hour flight test at the Philips Army Airfield at Aberdeen Proving Ground. TALS enables hands-off automatic landings of the Shadow 200 air vehicles, eliminating the need for an external pilot.
The first in a new generation of tactical UAV systems, the Shadow 200 TUAV system is being developed to provide battlefield and peacekeeping mission intelligence for U.S. Army brigade commanders. Crucial reconnaissance, surveillance, and battlefield damage intelligence will be delivered efficiently from the air vehicle's electronic payloads directly to key tactical command centers.
Led by prime contractor AAI Corporation, a Maryland-based company with 15 years of UAV systems design, production, and deployment experience, the Shadow 200 team includes Raytheon, United Defense, Camber Corporation, and D.P. Associates. The Shadow 200 is being developed from a heritage of technically mature and operationally proven UAVs, including Pioneer UAV system and its AAI's Shadow 200, 400, and 600 UAV systems.
"The Shadow air vehicle and ground control systems accomplished three 'touch and go' landings and one final automatic landing during the touch down phase of the extensive automatic landing system trials,'' said Steve Reid, the Shadow 200 program manager for AAI Corporation. "The landings were all very smooth and accurate, and we were elated to see the system perform so successfully.''
Continued testing of TALS is taking place this week at the U.S. Army Test Center at Aberdeen as the Shadow 200 system concludes its three-month initial integration and flight test program.
In November, 2000, the flight test team and test systems, including air vehicles and ground control equipment, will relocate to the U.S. Army's electronic proving grounds at Ft. Huachuca, Ariz., to begin a 10-week joint government/contractor test series program, Reid announced.
"We're entering into the second phase of flight testing in Arizona with a lot of momentum,'' the AAI program manager noted. "We've had an excellent run of tests at Aberdeen, and we've accomplished everything that we set out to do and more. The team, including the U.S. Army, is very satisfied with the progress of the system.
"Our goal in the initial phase was to accomplish risk reduction flight testing of the Shadow 200 payload, TALS, and data link systems and components. That's been done during this Aberdeen testing phase,'' Reid said.
Reid said the program team plans to meet a set of specific goals in the next phase of flight training and systems development -- called Test Series 300 (TS 300) -- at Ft. Huachuca.
"One of the most important objectives of TS 300 in Arizona will be verifying the performance of our initial production TUAV systems to ensure that they are ready for initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) scheduled to take place next spring,'' said Reid. "Also, concurrent with TS 300, we will train the soldiers who will later perform the IOT&E.''
AAI will manufacture and provide support for four low-rate initial production TUAV systems (Block I), which the Army will put through initial operational test and evaluation. AAI is on schedule to deliver the first of the four systems in November. After that, the Army has options to purchase between six and 10 additional production systems. Currently, the Army plans to have a total inventory of 44 TUAV systems. Full-rate production is expected to be authorized in the fall of 2001.
A Block I Shadow 200 system is comprised of three air vehicles with payloads, two ground control stations, one portable ground control station, one air vehicle transport vehicle, launch/recovery equipment (a hydraulic launcher, arresting gear, and automatic landing system), one troop carrier for personnel and equipment, and logistics support elements for system deployment.
AAI UAVs have accumulated well over 20,000 flight hours with the vast majority having been operational. Pioneer UAVs provided key intelligence and targeting support to the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Army during Desert Shield/Desert Storm. The company has delivered more than 230 UAVs that have been fielded by customers worldwide.
AAI, a subsidiary of United Industrial Corporation this year is celebrating 50 years as a leader in the development and production of innovative high technology electronic and mechanical products and services for military, government and commercial customers in domestic and international markets.