LOS ANGELES --- BAE Systems has achieved fully autonomous flight of its second-generation ducted-fan unmanned aerial vehicle. The vertical takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) aircraft took off and landed automatically in two flight tests, each time completing a course of 10 waypoints at Southern California's Hansen Field.
The autonomous tests followed more than 100 flights conducted with assisted takeoff and landing over the past several months.
BAE Systems has developed a family of ducted-fan UAVs in which mission requirements for payload weight, altitude, and endurance will determine the size of the platform. The ducted-fan design shrouds the fan, making it ideally suited for company- and platoon-level operations in which takeoffs and landings occur in close proximity to troops.
The concept features an inherently stable design that yields robust operation in windy conditions and in urban environments, with reduced reliance on complex flight control systems. It can operate in both hover and forward wing-borne flight modes, the latter providing increased operational range and fuel efficiency. The wings can be removed for urban operations that require increased maneuverability and a smaller airborne signature.
The vehicle has low visual and acoustic signatures to minimize the probability of detection at launch and when deployed behind enemy lines.
BAE Systems is an international company engaged in the development, delivery, and support of advanced defense and aerospace systems in the air, on land, at sea and in space. BAE Systems North America is one of America's foremost national security, aerospace, and information systems companies.