Piasecki Aircraft Corporation
Essington, Pennsylvania, USA
Piasecki Aircraft Corporation (PiAC) has made a next-generation Air Scout® which is a tandem ducted fan Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) Unmanned Air System (UAS) designed to operate as an organic asset (“organic asset” usually means specialized equipment which is a permanent part of a parent unit or larger unit) for small ground combat units for Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (RSTA), combat resupply, and other missions. The Air Scout® is a scaled down version of PiAC’s Air Geep ducted fan vehicle developed and field test for the U.S. Army.
Piasecki Aircraft Corporation plans to integrate the SNC—Kutta ground control station (a Ground Control Station that can handle a multitude of different UAS) in combination with long range communications and a Klear-Path™ sensor suite. Air Scout® is a Commercial Off-the Shelf (COTS) design to meet emerging cargo logistics requirements consistent with UAS Classification Group 3. Air Scout® is sized at 300 lbs (136 kg), with payload potential of 50-150 lbs (23-68 kg). Piasecki Aircraft Corporation anticipates developmental testing beginning in early 2019.
The empty weight of each unit is light enough that two people can lift the aircraft on the back of a pick-up truck or a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV; colloquial: Humvee). The Air Scout® is designed for maintainability in the field with an open access platform and Line Replaceable Unit (LRU) component design. Payloads can be hard mounted on the top, side or bottom of the vehicle, or as a slung load underneath.
The Air Scout® was originally developed for and selected by the Army as the best value solution for the FCS Class II UAS requirement. The ducts augment rotor lift and provide a protective barrier for ground personnel or the risk of collision with hazards operating in a near earth complex terrain. The Air Scout® has up to a 140 lbs (63 kg) useful load capability. Multiple units can be coupled together to provide increased payload as and when required.
The Air Scout® has an autonomous flight control system for take-off, way point navigation, and landing, and a hand-held tablet control with simplified user interface for the operator. Options for integration of collision avoidance sensors are available. Current development efforts focus on the integration and testing of non-gasoline all electric, hybrid, Jet-A and heavy fuel propulsion system options.
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