Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sea Avenger wing passes wind tunnel test

SOURCE ADMIN The Sea Avenger, a carrier-based, jet-powered, unmanned aircraft, has completed key wind tunnel testing, says manufacturer General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA ASI).
The wind tunnel tests, conducted with a model, validated the low-speed characteristics of a new wing, designed for higher endurance, lower approach speeds and increased aircraft dash speeds, the company says.
Sea Avenger is GA ASI's offering to meet the US Navy requirement known as the unmanned carrier launched airborne surveillance and strike (UCLASS). The first land-based Avenger has been flying since April 2009, and has demonstrated the ability to go from hangar to launch in 45min or less, the company says. Weapons systems integration is complete. GA ASI plans to test-drop GBU-16s in March with the first demonstrator aircraft. Tail 2 is expected to be complete by summer.

 © General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.
The 90hr, eight-day wind-tunnel test was conducted at the San Diego Air and Space Technology Center, validating the low-speed characteristics of an updated wing in the approach, launch, and cruise configurations. The proprietary wing design must balance the requirements for high-speed flight in cruise and low-speed handling qualities for carrier landings, the company says.
Designed for fully autonomous launch and recovery from both Nimitz- and Ford-class carriers, Sea Avenger would provide long-endurance, multi-mission intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities for navy missions. The service has listed a 11 to 14h endurance requirement for UCLASS.
It shares features already flying on 440 turboprop-powered Predator- and Reaper-series aircraft, including servos, flight control systems and surveillance and strike payloads.
But Sea Avenger also would include several modifications including folding wing-tips, stronger landing gear and marinised electronics, the company says. The biggest difference, however, is the propulsion system. GA-ASI has adapted the 21.3kN (4,800lbf) Pratt & Whitney PW545B turbofan for Cessna business jets to the navy's high-altitude surveillance and strike mission.

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