Sign-up to receive weekly Defense email updates with news, commentary, photos, videos and more!
Focusing on the critical interplay of programs, policy, funding and operations to provide integrated intelligence and global perspective to defense and government leaders worldwide.
Aerospace Daily & Defense Report is relied upon for the latest, critical intelligence on programs, budgets and policies in defense, as well as military and civil space.
Unmanned Horizons is a dedicated section of AviationWeek.com's defense coverage of unmanned systems.
Access news, blog posts, videos, photos and other exclusive unmanned systems-related defense content.
Aviation Week is proud to announce its new Innovation Special Topic page supported by Booz Allen Hamilton.
Check out articles, white papers, interactive features and more related to aviation, aerospace and defense innovation.
Join defense leaders for the annual event focused on improving program performance!
With such strong interest in persistent ISR coming out of operations in Iraq, and now Afghanistan, it's not surprising there is a wide range of unmanned aircraft options on the table, offering different combinations of endurance, altitude and payload capability.Aurora Flight Sciences has for some time been working on the Orion, a hydrogen-fuelled, 100h-endurance, 65,000ft-altitude, 400lb-payload UAV, supported by congressionally earmarked funding. But recently there has been talk of a change in direction, and Aurora has unveiled a new version of the Orion here at AFA.Concept: Aurora Flight SciencesThis is a medium-altitude bird, designed to fly for five days at 15,000-20,000ft, cruising at around 70kt and carrying a 1,000b payload. Whereas the high-altitude Orion was being looked at mainly for missile defense, the medium-altitude version is targeted at persistent ISR.In place of a single modified automotive engine burning liquid-hydrogen, the new design has a pair of conventional general-aviation piston engines. Size is essentially unchanged, but gross weight goes up about 1,000lb, to around 8,000lb. A 1,000lb payload capability allows the new Orion to carry a multi-camera wide-area airborne surveillance sensor, or a combination of EO/IR and SIGINT payloads to allow cross-cueing of sensors. In effect, the aircraft could be seen as a persistent, unmanned follow-on to the Air Force's manned Project Liberty MC-12W King Airs. Aurora has struggled to keep the original Orion alive on annual earmarks, but the medium-altitude version is a candidate for a three-year joint concept technology demonstration (JCTD). The company won't comment, but the NRO website lists Orion as a candidate for a Fiscal 2010 immediate-start JCTD, with a decision expected within weeks.
ar99, afa09, Aurora, UAV
Copyright © 2013, Aviation Week, a division of McGraw Hill Financial.