Textron Systems unveiled the new Nightwarden tactical unmanned aerial system (TUAS) at the Paris Air Show on 19 June.
The Group 3 system has a payload of up to 59 kg, and a maximum take-off weight of 340 kg. According to Textron's Unmanned Systems senior vice-president and general manager Bill Irby, the payload capability allows the Nightwarden to carry equipment such as communication relay, sense-and-avoid, electronic attack, signals intelligence, and communications intelligence, with up to 2,000 watts available for powering onboard subsystems.
The Nightwarden is also capable of additional ISR systems, as well as a strike capability, such as the Textron Systems Fury - a 13 lb missile with multimode fuze settings that also utilises combined GPS/INS and semi-active laser terminal guidance.
"When we first announced the Shadow M2 in 2011, we had developed a concept, but had not yet settled on a detailed plan for the engine, avionics, datalinks, or payloads. Since then, we have invested our own money to develop these features while keeping in mind all of our customers' feedback and future requirements," Irby said.
The system currently claims to have 70% parts compatibility with the existing Shadow systems, allowing for a more affordable and simpler upgrade of systems for existing operators.
The Nightwarden is powered by a water-cooled UAV Engines Ltd AR801 N2 rotary engine that provides it with a reduced acoustic signature and a greater electrical output. As a result, the system has an endurance of 15 hours, a maximum speed of 90 kt, and a maximum service ceiling of 16,000 ft.
Operations can be carried out in a variety of environments and under a range of different control environments, with the system being able to undertake remote taxi , automated take-off and landing, and landing on unimproved surfaces. It is also equipped with an air-vehicle parachute for emergencies.
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