A Defense Technology Blog
See All Posts
  • Exclusive: Aurora Flies VTOL Excalibur
    Posted by Graham Warwick 8:28 PM on Jul 17, 2009

    Aurora Flight Sciences has flown its Excalibur experimental vertical takeoff and landing unmanned combat aircraft. The subscale proof-of-principle aircraft made its first hover at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland on June 24 and Aviation Week has the story, with exclusive pictures and video (here).

    blog post photo

    blog post photo

    blog post photo
    Photos: Aurora Flight Sciences

    The 13ft-long, 10ft-span Excalibur is a half-scale version of a VTOL UCAV designed to carry a 400lb weapons payload - four Hellfires - at speeds up to 400kt. The aircraft is the testbed for a hybrid turbine-electric propulsion system which combines a tilting 700lb thrust-class turbojet and three 12kW battery-powered lift fans.

    blog post photo
    Full-size UCAV (Concept: Aurora)

    Aurora had hoped to fly Excalibur last last year, but diverted resources to completing development of its GoldenEye 80 ducted-fan VTOL tactical UAV. Although AATD and ONR have supported the program, Aurora conducted the first hover flight on its own funds.

    The company plans to complete initial hover-phase testing at speeds up 20kt, but is looking for funding to modify the vehicle for medium-speed flights up to 40kt, which will involve making the aerodynamic control surfaces active. If it can secure funds, Aurora plans to build a second demonstrator for high-speed testing - one that can retract the lift fans, retract the gear and tilt the engine down.

    blog post photo
    Art: Aurora

    Tags: ar99, Aurora, VTOL, UCAV

  • Recommend
  • Report Abuse

Comments on Blog Post