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Platform Aerospace offers VTOL-capable Vanilla Unmanned aircraft for US Army programmes

The Platform Aerospace Vanilla Unmanned Group 3 aircraft on display at the 2021 AUSA trade show in Washington, DC. The aircraft is displayed with Logos Technologies' RedKite electro-optical wide-area motion imagery pod (foreground) and BlackKite infrared WAMI pod (background). Platform Aerospace is adding VTOL rotors to the Vanilla for an unspecified Pentagon customer and offering the capability for US Army programmes. (Janes/Pat Host)

Platform Aerospace is offering a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) variant of its Vanilla Unmanned ultra-long endurance Group 3 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for US Army programmes, according to a company executive.

Greg Pappianou, company chief growth officer, told Janes on 22 October that these programmes do not include the Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System, which had VTOL UAVs such as the L3Harris FVR-90 hybrid quadcopter participate in a capstone rodeo in early 2021. Platform Aerospace wants to deliver this VTOL capability for a Pentagon customer, which Pappianou declined to specify, and then offer the Vanilla VTOL variant as an additional product offering.

Pappianou said adding rotors would allow the Vanilla to fly 24 hours in VTOL mode with 23 kg of payload capacity. While this would reduce the aircraft's endurance from eight days, the 24 hours of VTOL performance is several times greater than other UAVs, he said. The first flight for this unspecified Pentagon customer is scheduled for the first half of 2022, he added.

Platform Aerospace promotes the Vanilla as filling an unmet requirement for multiday surveillance and inspection operations at an attritable, or cost-effective, price point. The aircraft is capable of multimission beyond visual line-of-sight operations providing days of time-on-target or thousands of kilometres of search capacity on a single flight.

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