Today at Paris Air Show 2017, Textron Systems, a unit of Textron Inc., introduced a next-generation Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), offering what the company calls improved combat capability over its widely-used SHADOW UAS.
Textron says the new NIGHTWARDEN Group 3 Tactical UAS offers a maximum speed of 90 knots with a flight time of up to 15 hours and a payload capacity of 130lbs (via a new engine), alongside capabilities found in larger Group 4 medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAS.
The self-funded (internal research & development) drone is developed from experience from the US Army’s RQ-7BV2 SHADOW tactical UAS and is ready for production, says the company. It is designed to perform multiple mission types including intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), strike and electronic attack, and to carry multiple payloads. With a maximum takeoff weight of 750 lbs, NIGHTWARDEN can carry a payload of up to 130 pounds.
Textron is currently talking to potential customers in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the US, and has already conducted demonstrations as prototypes have flown more than 400 hours already. Production aircraft could be delivered within 12 months of a contract, according to the company.