BAE Systems Reports Successful Testing of VTOL Vehicle

September 05, 2005 by Jeff Shepard

BAE Systems Controls (Johnson City, NY), a developer of defense and aerospace systems, has achieved its first autonomous, untethered flight of its third-generation, ducted-fan, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The company's vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) air vehicle completed a course of 10 waypoints at BAE Systems' Southern California flight test facility. The 7-minute flight of the IAV2 vehicle demonstrated a pre-programmed flight plan that included automatic takeoff, waypoint navigation with multiple groundspeeds and altitudes, and loitering and automatic landing. The demonstration flight was achieved just 10 days after the air vehicle's first flight and was the 14th flight of the IAV2. Flights were conducted at temperatures of up to 109 °F, equating to density altitudes approaching 7,000 ft, in winds of nearly 15 knots.

BAE Systems developed the air vehicle as part of a company-funded research and development effort to design and demonstrate a family of ducted-fan VTOL UAVs. The IAV2 is currently undergoing payload integration for the future demonstration of a fully integrated system. The ducted-fan design shrouds the fan, making it suitable for company-level and platoon-level operations in which takeoffs and landings occur in close proximity to the war fighter. Using a 22-in diameter fan with a nominal outside diameter of 37 in, the UAV is about 5 ft tall and has flown with simulated payloads of up to 25 lbs.