Long-Endurance Runwayless Composite Aircraft (Orca) UAS

Award Information
Department of Defense
Air Force
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
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Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Hubzone Owned:
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator
 Tim Fofonoff
 Chief Engineer
 (781) 257-1405
Business Contact
 Ian Hunter
Title: President
Phone: (781) 257-1405
Email: ian@nucleusscientific.com
Research Institution
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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