Honeywell has begun flight testing a 13-in. autonomous unmanned aerial surveillance aircraft designed to allow a foot soldier to carry it on his back. Honeywell is developing the aircraft, the Micro Air Vehicle, for the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency as part of its Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration program.
The gasoline-powered vehicle uses a vertically oriented propeller enclosed in a shroud. This ducted-fan design allows the vehicle to take off and land vertically using air thrust through the shroud. Development calls for a heavy-fuel engine variant of the Micro Air Vehicle to be available next year.
Flight tests are to continue through next month at Honeywell's facility in Albuquerque, N.M. The flight tests are set up to verify that the aircraft performs as designed and "will provide intelligence on enemy activity without risking the lives of human pilots or ground reconnaissance teams," Vaughn Fulton, Honeywell Unmanned Aerial Systems program manager, said.
In April, Honeywell is to start delivery of prototype systems to the Army for initial experimentation.
The vehicle may become part of the U.S. Army's Future Combat Systems program as the hover-and-stare Class I Unmanned Aerial Vehicle system. The vehicle is controlled using Honeywell's micro-electrical mechanical systems (MEM) electronic sensor technology. Honeywell is the prime contractor, with AAI Corp. the subcontractor for the airframe, AVID LCC the sub for modeling and simulation and Techsburg, Inc. the sub for testing and acoustics.