BAE to fly T-650 heavy-lift UAS in drive to electric propulsion

by Gareth Jennings

Seen at its unveiling at the DSEI exhibition in late 2021, the T-650 heavy-lift UAS should fly for the first time in the coming weeks. (Janes/Richard Fowler)

BAE Systems plans to fly the T-650 all-electric heavy-lift unmanned aircraft system (UAS) that it first unveiled in September 2021 in the coming weeks, a company official said on 24 May.

Neil Appleton, head of Electric Products, BAE systems, told Janes and other defence media that it will fly a demonstrator version of the T-650 that it is developing with Malloy Aeronautics before the end of the third quarter of 2022.

First showcased at the 2021 DSEI exhibition in London, the T-650 is an electrically powered heavy-lift UAS capable of lifting 650 lb (295 kg) out to a range of 30 km (or a radius of 15 km), at 140 km/h. As Appleton noted, BAE envisages a range of applications for the UAS, including automated resupply, casualty evacuation, anti-submarine warfare using the Sting Ray torpedo, maritime mine countermeasures using the Archerfish expendable mine clearance ordnance, maritime search and rescue, surveillance tasks, and close air support.

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US Navy selects Textron King Air 260 trainer to replace T-44s

by Zach Rosenberg

A Beechcraft T-44C Pegasus, pictured in 2021. (US Navy)

The US Navy (USN) has selected the Textron King Air 260 to replace the Beechcraft King Air 90 (designated T-44 Pegasus) multi-engine trainer. The initial contract award announced on 25 January orders 10 T-54s for USD113 million, with options for up to 64 of the aircraft, which will be designated T-54A Multi Engine Training System (METS).

Deliveries are expected to run from 2024 through 2026. T-44 retirements will begin six months after the first T-54 delivery, the USN told Janes . The T-54s will be equipped with ‘glass' multifunction displays, automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) transponders, weather radar, and other modern systems that the ageing T-44s lack.

“The new METS aircraft will give us the ability to train pilots across the services with an advanced platform that better represents fleet aircraft,” said Captain Holly Shoger, the USN programme manager. “The T-54A will include the latest avionics and navigational updates, such as virtual reality and augmented reality devices.”

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DARPA selects General Atomics and Aurora Flight Sciences to design wing-in-ground effect lifters

by Zach Rosenberg

Aurora Flight Sciences' Liberty Lifter concept. (Aurora Flight Sciences)

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) on 1 February selected two companies to design wing-in-ground effect (WIG) concepts for Phase 1 of the Liberty Lifter programme.

The 18-month contract is intended to advance designs from both General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) and Aurora Flight Sciences through preliminary design review (PDR), plus an additional three months for presentation and manufacturing planning.

The Liberty Lifter is intended to result in designs capable of flying 6,500 n mile with six standard cargo containers or two US Marine Corps (USMC) Amphibious Assault Vehicles, handling waves up to 13 ft high (Sea State 5) and flying up to a 10,000 ft altitude.

“The two teams have taken distinctly different design approaches that will enable us to explore a relatively large design space during Phase 1,” said Christopher Kent, DARPA programme manager.

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Swiss Air Force receives first two Hermes 900 UAVs

by Gareth Jennings

The Swiss Air Force is flying operational testing sorties on two of its planned six Elbit Hermes 900 unmanned aircraft. (Armasuisse)

The Swiss Air Force has received the first two of six Elbit Systems Hermes 900 Heavy Fuel Engine (HFE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that were ordered under the Reconnaissance Drone System 15 (ADS 15) requirement.

The Swiss Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection, and Sport (VBS) announced the milestone on 30 January, approximately nine months after Israel delivered the aircraft to the Swiss Federal Office for Armaments (Armasuisse) for in-country flight trials.

“The military aviation authority has issued the necessary certification. This means that the air force can now start building up the operational capabilities for the ADS 15 reconnaissance drone system,” the VBS said.

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BAE Systems plans to fly the T-650 all-electric heavy-lift unmanned aircraft system (UAS) that it fi...

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