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Israel's Urban Aeronautics is making progress testing its prototype Mule vertical take-off and landing unmanned cargo aircraft. The ducted rotors have run at nominal take-off power and a photograph on Urban's website shows the Mule, still tethered, getting "light on its skids". It may have actually lifted off, but Urban is saying nothing for now.Photo: Urban AeronauticsThe Israeli Defense Force is looking at the possibility of using the Mule to evacuate wounded soldiers from combat zones. Weighing in at 2,400lb, the vehicle has a useful load of up to 500lb and an endurance of 2-4h at speeds up to 100kt and altitudes up to 12,000ft. It's pretty big: 6.2m long, 3.5m wide and 2.3m tall.The Mule is powered by a 730shp Turbomeca Arriel 1D1 turboshaft that drives the front and rear ducted rotors and aft thrusters via a series of gearboxes and shafts that Urban says have presented "very few problems" so far in ground tests. Vanes above and below the ducts are designed to produce pure lateral forces for maneuvering in city streets.Concept: Urban Aeronautics
ar99, VTOL, UAV
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