Indra announced on 11 January that it has reached a key milestone in the TARGUS optionally piloted vehicle (OPV) programme it is running with partner Gaerum – the start of simulated flight tests to validate design of the aircraft's critical systems. Specifically, they have begun studying the flight control, navigation and mission systems at the Rozas Center for Research and Experimentation (CIAR) in Castro de Rei. All of these are components that play a fundamental role in the safety and operability of the aircraft.
Indra uses an advanced simulation methodology known as Software-In-the-Loop/Hardware-In-the-Loop that makes aircraft systems ‘believe’ that they are actually in the air.
Engineers test the electronic systems’ behavior in an environment set up to be 100% realistic: the data feeding these components has been collected in real flights and perfectly replicates the situations the aircraft will face in a real environment. The results of previously conducted laboratory numerical simulations are thus fine-tuned and design decisions can be validated before moving on to the actual flight test phase, reducing costs and minimising risks associated with development and experimentation.
Once the correlation system behaviour in the simulator and in the air is confirmed with a flight test, all these simulation hours will be regarded as real flight hours. The deadlines for obtaining pertinent authorities’ flight certification are expedited in this way; a complex, demanding and totally unprecedented process for an aircraft with the characteristics of the TARGUS, which, at 1.2t and with an 11m wingspan, is the largest unmanned aircraft in Spain.
The use of simulation tools will shorten the aircraft’s time to market and reduce its eventual price, contributing to its success.
TARGUS is an optionally manned aircraft developed by Indra as part of the Civil UAVs Initiative promoted by the Xunta de Galicia. The TARGUS is equipped with the most advanced surveillance technology to conduct missions related to maritime surveillance; to bring support to salvage and rescue missions, forest surveillance and fire-fighting, and to monitor land use and historical heritage sites, among many other possible applications.