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On 19 November, FLIR Systems announced the launch of its StormCaster range of UAS payloads, delivering high-performance multi-sensor capabilities for the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), overwatch, force protection and search and rescue missions.

The new line, intended for the company’s SkyRanger R70 and SkyRaider R80D platforms, launches with two multi-sensor products: StormCaster-T, which delivers continuous zoom and longwave infrared (LWIR) imaging; and StormCaster-L, which provides ultra-low-light imaging, tracking, and mapping.

StormCaster represents FLIR Systems’ next-generation payload family for the company’s own UAS airframes, gained through the acquisition of Aeryon Labs in February. The new line reflects a leap forward in scalable performance, offering a seven-fold improvement in line-of-sight stabilisation, enhanced range of motion and greater geolocation accuracy – all in a rugged package.

Interoperability across the StormCaster family enables users to quickly and easily change modules and will leverage continuing improvements in aircraft performance, providing small units with the organic capability to conduct increasingly demanding missions such as ISR.

StormCaster-L and –T are just the beginning of this new line of advanced, high-performance payloads for our small, tactical UAS platforms,” said David Ray, President of the Government and Defence Business Unit at FLIR. “For mission needs ranging from force protection and border security to clandestine operations, FLIR StormCaster will provide heightened situational awareness, bolstered by our aircraft’s onboard, real-time artificial intelligence […] We will develop more multi-sensor payloads through 2020 that deliver on our promise to offer capabilities at the individual operator level that previously required larger, more expensive UAS.”

The StormCaster-T features a FLIR Boson thermal camera to support detection, recognition, identification and target acquisition day or night, with maximum range and time-on-station. Its continuous zoom lens, with a 75mm maximum focal length, permits long distance ISR while providing clear, actionable imagery. The StormCaster-L ultra-low-light imaging camera offers superior ISR and mapping performance during twilight and night-time operations. Key features include 4K recorded video and full-colour night vision in low-light conditions.

Developed for US defence and federal agencies, the R80D SkyRaider delivers a range of versatile Group 2 and 3 payload capabilities with the agility and single-operator deployment footprint of a proven Group 1 Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft. SkyRaider can carry and deliver multiple payloads up to 4.4lbs and features an open architecture, plus one of the most powerful embedded AI computing devices available on a sUAS. Similar in capabilities to the R80D but for non-US military customers, the SkyRanger R70 was designed for the most demanding UAS operators within the global defence, security and public safety markets.

The StormCaster in operational mode. (Photo: FLIR Systems)

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