Air Platforms

UMS Skeldar enhances R-350, undertakes trials

23 November 2017
Improvements to the R-350 include to the powerplant. Source: UMS Skeldar

UMS Skeldar has undertaken a week-long flight demonstration programme of its newly configured R-350 rotary-wing unmanned aircraft system (UAS) with Germany’s Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information technology, and In-Service Support (BAAINBw).

The demonstration saw the R-350 used as an unmanned mission avionics test (UMAT) platform and equipped with two specialised payloads from UMS Skeldar’s partner, ESG. The systems comprised a light detection and ranging (LIDAR) unit and a gyro-stabilised electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) camera.

The air vehicle was flown with a maximum take-off weight of 150 kg, of which 27 kg was accounted for by the payloads.

The flights were conducted at the Bundeswehr Technical Center for Aircraft and Aeronautical Equipment in Manching, and demonstrated the R-350’s ability to evaluate sensors and algorithms and undertake automatic landing site recognition for manned helicopters beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS).

The R-350 is a tactical level platform and the most significant changes brought in the latest iteration are focused on improvements to the powerplant. According to the company, the modifications enable the complete propulsion unit to be swapped out in less than 45 minutes, and the jet turbine element alone in under 15 minutes.

A company spokesperson told Jane’s that the propulsion system is an in-house design and that it is currently being updated from version 8 to 9, with the jet turbine component considered to be “within industrialisation”. The spokesperson noted that the engine control unit (ECU) software and control algorithms have been completely overhauled, along with a number of other subsystems, including the fuel pump. The engine can run on Jet A1 and JP8 heavy fuels, making it suitable for maritime operations.

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