Long-Endurance Runwayless Composite Aircraft (Orca) UAS

Award Information
Agency:
Department of Defense
Branch
n/a
Amount:
$150,000.00
Award Year:
2011
Program:
SBIR
Phase:
Phase I
Contract:
FA8650-11-M-3146
Award Id:
n/a
Agency Tracking Number:
F112-006-1350
Solicitation Year:
2011
Solicitation Topic Code:
AF112-006
Solicitation Number:
2011.2
Small Business Information
6 OAKDALE LANE, LINCOLN, MA, -
Hubzone Owned:
N
Minority Owned:
N
Woman Owned:
N
Duns:
967229183
Principal Investigator:
Tim Fofonoff
Chief Engineer
(781) 257-1405
tim@nucleusscientific.com
Business Contact:
Ian Hunter
President
(781) 257-1405
ian@nucleusscientific.com
Research Institute:
Stub




Abstract
ABSTRACT: A persistent presence above the battlefield provides for distinct advantages in areas of operation. Aerial platforms can suspend surveillance, SIGINT and C3 payloads aloft for the use of operators and observers. These resources have proven extremely effective when deployed in the field by personnel near the operating area. Such is the case when operating UAVs from forward positions. The Nucleus Scientific team proposes to develop a long endurance UAV capable of operating from forward operating bases, in close proximity to personnel and equipment, by utilizing a hybrid VTOL/LE (Vertical Take-Off and Landing/Long Endurance) engine. The VTOL/LE system integrates with a low-drag airframe, providing launch and recovery without a runway and increased time on-station. The Phase I effort includes conceptual aircraft design, integration of the VTOL/LE system, flight simulation and performance analysis. The Phase I development path positions the effort for a Phase II prototype build and test. Design criteria include: vertical take-off and landing, +5 hours of flight endurance, autonomous operation and integration of modular payloads. The resulting system will launch vertically, transit to the mission area, support the payload for +5 hours of operation, return home and land vertically with limited risk of injury to ground personnel and equipment. BENEFIT: The proposed long endurance VTOL UAV will allow the Air Force to operate larger airframes from areas that may not have an available landing strip, typically required for Tier 2 sized vehicles. The fielding of larger airframes from forward positions will allow for more sophisticated payload packages to be operated for longer periods of time, closer to target areas. This advantage precludes transit time to target location and gives commanders and ground forces better information on a more persistent basis. The anticipated benefits of the long endurance Tier 2 VTOL UAV are: launch and recovery without an airfield; endurance comparable to CTOL UAVs; modular payload systems for multi-mission flexibility; and minimal ground support footprint for launch, recovery and maintenance operations. The technology required to develop a long endurance VTOL UAV has direct commercial applicability for future aerospace systems. The Navy and Coast Guard would have particular interest in an aerial platform that can take-off and land from the deck of a ship to provide aerial coverage. Current military platforms that are capable of landing without runways are helicopters and a handful of jet powered aircraft. These systems are plagued by short operating ranges, short endurances and extremely heavy propulsion systems, all of which limit payload and overall effectiveness. The development of a viable alternative using the proposed integrated VTOL/LE UAV engine could have cascading effects for future unmanned platforms operated by the DoD. As agencies such as the FBI, Homeland Security, police and similar federal, state and local agencies continue to experiment with UAS, and as costs decrease, these systems will proliferate outside of the military into broader commercial markets. This SBIR effort can further the development and operation of highly capable VTOL UAS, thus expanding the market and decreasing future costs. This benefit will be future platforms that can compactly store and operate from marine vehicles used by the Coast Guard and/or similar UAS that launch from automobiles for police agencies.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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