Poland-based AgustaWestland subsidiary PZL-Swidnik SA introduced its SW-4 “Solo” helicopter program on Tuesday during the 20th International Defence Industry Exhibition (MSPO) in Europe. The prototype is what the company calls a “Rotorcraft Unmanned Air System/Optionally Piloted Helicopter” (RUAS/OPH). The company plans to market the aircraft—designed for both land and maritime missions—as a multi-role platform capable of a wide variety of homeland and battlefield missions.
In the manned pilot mode, the light, single-engine RUAS/OPH can transport a pilot and four passengers, the same as its manned-only predecessor the SW-4 Maluch. In unmanned mode, Swidnik reports that it can perform surveillance, target acquisition, reconnaissance, environment monitoring, ground survey, and cargo-carrying missions.
Both Boeing Aircraft and Kaman Helicopter have optionally manned aircraft flying. Boeing's Little Bird, based on the MD Helicopters design, is well into its flight testing stage, while a pair of Kaman K-Max unmanned aerial trucks (UATs) are currently flying missions with the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan.
Swidnik says its RUAS/OPH prototype will make its maiden flight with a pilot onboard in the coming months, and be flown remotely sometime in 2013.
Related: Unmanned News
Photo courtesy of AgustaWestland