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European manufacturer AgustaWestland is to fly an unmanned helicopter demonstrator based on the light single-turbine SW-4 manufactured by its Polish subsidiary PZL-Swidnik.Concept: AgustaWestland"We will build an RUAV [rotorcraft unmanned aerial vehicle] prototype based on the SW-4 to demonstrate autonomous capability," said CEO Guiseppe Orsi at the Heli-Expo show in Orlando. First manned flight will be early in 2012 and first unmanned in mid-2012.The SW-4 joins a lengthening line of commercial helicopters adapted to unmanned use, including the Sikorsky S-333 for the MQ-8B Fire Scout and now the Bell 407 for the planned MQ-8C version, which Northrop Grumman and the US Navy plan to develop to meet an urgent special-forces requirement for a maritime VTOL UAV with more endurance and payload than the current Fire Scout.Like the Fire Scout, the unmanned version of the SW-4 is shown operating in a maritime environment. The RUAV program is likely to tap the UAV expertise of Selex Galileo, AgustaWestland's sister company within Finmeccanica and manufacturer of the Falcon tactical fixed-wing UAV.
ar99, unmanned, heli11, rotorcraft
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