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Aeronautics adds VTOL capability to Orbiter 4

Concept image of Aeronautics Orbiter 4 UAS fitted with the new VTOL kit, which the company says is designed to provide flexibility to operators. (Aeronautics)

Aeronautics has developed an applique vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) kit for its Orbiter 4 unmanned aircraft system (UAS), the company has announced.

The VTOL kit takes the form of two nacelles, one positioned on each wing, and which feature two rotor blades. Matan Perry, Aeronautics Group's chief marketing officer and vice-president of sales, told Janes that the rotor blades have electric motors and are powered by a battery pack, rather than drawing from the onboard system.

In order to accommodate the VTOL kit, the Orbiter 4's airframe needs to undergo modification, after which users can fit or remove the kit in the field, Perry said. The rotor blades are only engaged during take-off and landing.

In its standard configuration, the aircraft is launched from a rail unit and recovered via a parachute system and an airbag. The VTOL capability has been introduced to provide flexibility to operators, Perry added.

According to Aeronautics, the aircraft has an endurance of up to 24 hours. However, the addition of the VTOL kit reduces the endurance. The company would not disclose by how much the endurance is reduced when the kit is fitted nor if it impacts the payload capacity, which is stated as 12 kg.

Perry said that the development of the VTOL kit is part of a continuing process to introduce enhancements to the Orbiter 4 that has been under way for the past several years.

The new VTOL configuration has been trialled with military users, Perry said. However, he was unable to disclose who these users were.

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