Lockheed Martin’s Desert Hawk hand-launched UAV has been in British Army service since 2009, flying more than 30,000 hours in support of forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Originally procured under an urgent operational requirement, Desert Hawk is now being brought into the Core Defence Capability, and Lockheed Martin has received a six-year contract for ongoing support. The British Army’s Desert Hawk inventory has recently undergone a digital communications upgrade, and full operating capability with this modification has been declared.
In the meantime, Lockheed Martin (Stand S8-210) launched a new version of the small unmanned air system at DSEI yesterday. Designated Desert Hawk 3.1, the new version brings the benefits of the Desert Hawk 4, which was introduced in May to the Desert Hawk 3 family through modular kit updates involving the replacement of the tail and/ or nose sections.
Key benefits of the 3.1 include an increase in endurance from 60-90 minutes up to 150 minutes. The design is also able to fly in all weathers thanks to new water-proofing, and it is much easier to launch and recover. The in-service ‘DH 3’ requires a small run-up to launch, but the 3.1 has twice the launch power, allowing it to be released from a crouching or even prone position.
Whereas the ‘DH 3’ glides to a landing, in which the vehicle normally breaks up into sections to absorb the impact, the 3.1 has a deep-stall recovery method, dropping to the ground and staying intact. Landing positional accuracy is less than 2m.
Another advance concerns the sensor payload, which comprises an integrated electro-optical, infrared and laser pointer in place of separate units.
The UK is one of a number of nations already evaluating the Desert Hawk 3.1.