Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Ship and truck launched Australian Military UAV

In "Robots at war" I mentioned the Aerosonde UAV, which I got to hold some years ago in Melbourne (Australia). Just after writing that I picked up a copy of Defence Technology International (DTI, July/August 2009). This has two full page advertisements for the Aerosonde. One shows it being recovered with a net on the helicopter deck of a US Navy amphibious assault ship. The other advertisement shows the aircraft being launched from a truck mounted catapult and being recovered with a similar net to the one on the ship. The advertisements are from AAi Corp, part of Textron Systems.

What might be a useful capability for the US Marines and for smaller defence forces, such as Australia, would be a truck mounted system which could also be used on board ship. The truck mounted UAV system could be driven onto a transport ship (such as an amphibious assault ship) and operated while on-board. For a semi-permanent installation, the launch and recovery systems could be on pallets transported on a flatbed truck, such as the cargo variant of the Australian made Bushmaster. The pallets could be removed for mounting on the ship.

The Aerosonde was designed to be launched from the roof rack of a car driving on a runway and landed with a belly flop on grass (it has not wheels). This much more gentle than catapult launches and net recovery. The aircraft is made entirely of carbon fibre and so was probably strong enough.

But these advertisements should be treated with caution. Military companies frequently promote concepts as if they were proven products. It is not clear if the photos are of real working systems, or even if they are real photos or digital mock-ups.

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