Today, Textron Systems Unmanned Systems, a Textron business, announced the completion of its inaugural customer demonstration of the AEROSONDE HQ, first unveiled in its new form at AUSA 2016. The AEROSONDE HQ combines the vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capabilities of a multi-rotor platform with the efficiency and speed of the AEROSONDE Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS) fixed-wing aircraft. The event comes just five months after the company first announced the HQ’s proof of concept demonstration.

The demonstration was witnessed by numerous military, civil and commercial customers from around the world. The demonstration showcased the system’s runway-independent vertical takeoff and transition to horizontal flight, followed by a landing without the need for any prepositioned personnel or recovery equipment. The demonstration took place at the new Textron Systems Unmanned Systems Service & Support Center.

Since announcing our development programme earlier this year, we have received great interest from numerous potential customers – including some who are already working with us on our fee-for-service programmes for the Aerosonde SUAS,” Textron Systems Unmanned Systems Senior Vice President and General Manager Bill Irby, said. “Since then, Textron Systems worked diligently to create an optimized prototype for the demonstration. It was rewarding to share these developments with our potential customers and hear their feedback. We believe this technology holds tremendous potential for our defense, as well as our civil and commercial customers.”

With the addition of VTOL capabilities, the system retains service proven capability within a smaller, more portable footprint. The AEROSONDE HQ features an eight-hour endurance and 10,000ft service ceiling. The system incorporates the purpose-built Lycoming EL-005 heavy fuel engine for reliability and performance.

The AEROSONDE SUAS has amassed more than 150,000 flight hours in commercial and military operations around the world, and is a multi-mission capable UAS that offers the ability to simultaneously support electro optical/infrared full motion video, communications relay, automatic identification systems, and intelligence payloads within a single flight. The system also supports a variety of sensors and payloads optimized for civil and commercial missions including survey and inspection.

The AEROSONDE HQ was first unveiled in its new form at AUSA 2016. The debut of the VTOL capability was made at AUVSI 2015. (Photo: Mönch/DPM)

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