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Goldeneye-50 Completes Its 100th Flight

The GoldenEye-50 unmanned aerial system.
by Staff Writers
Manassas VA (SPX) Mar 30, 2006
Aurora Flight Sciences announced that its GoldenEye-50 unmanned aerial system (UAS) completed its 100th flight during a 22-minute flight at the company's flight test facility earlier this month. Aurora's GoldenEye team is now focused on transforming the aircraft into a ruggedized platform that can operate in both land and marine environments.

GoldenEye-50 is unique among current ducted fan UAS because it is able to take off vertically, autonomously transition to high-speed wingborne flight and then return to hover flight in the target area to collect imagery and sensor readings.

GoldenEye-50 was designed as a technology development platform for Aurora's larger ducted fan aircraft, the GoldenEye-OAV. GoldenEye-50 was instrumental in the development of the flight control system and acoustic signature reduction for Aurora's GoldenEye-OAV program.

"The GoldenEye-50 has done a tremendous job as the technology pathfinder for our OAV entry," said Aurora president John S. Langford. "There has been significant interest in the GoldenEye-50 as a stand-alone product and we now plan to pursue that. GoldenEye-50 will offer advanced capability to units smaller than the company-sized units GoldenEye-OAV is designed to accompany."

The upgraded vehicle, known as GoldenEye-50 Block II, will have many common traits with the Block I aircraft, but will feature several upgrades including an advanced imagery suite, an enhanced engine, increased endurance and compatibility with General Dynamics Robotic Systems Soldier Machine Interface.

GoldenEye-50 made its first flight in July of 2004 and made its first autonomous transition to and from horizontal flight in April of 2005. Since April, the rapidly maturing system has demonstrated superior acoustic performance that surpasses DARPA's OAV-II requirement and the ability to perform high-speed banked turns during wingborne flight. During the summer of 2005, GoldenEye demonstrated its capabilities to Army Ranger, Cavalry and Artillery and the forces of a NATO country. Aurora plans to deliver Block II production units by early 2007.

The GoldenEye family consists of the GoldenEye-50 and the larger GoldenEye-OAV. Both share common flight control algorithms, aerodynamics, low observability features, and compatibility with the GDRS soldier-machine interface. The GoldenEye-50 uses a small gasoline engine, while the GoldenEye OAV uses a heavy fuel engine. GoldenEye-OAV also carries an advanced collision avoidance system, which will allow it to operate at low altitudes and in urban environments. Both GoldenEye versions can be carried in the back of an unmodified HMMW and requires neither launch nor recovery equipment. GoldenEye has greater range than similarly sized VTOL UAS because GoldenEye's wings enable high-speed flight and allow it to cover more territory while burning less fuel than wingless VTOL UAS that must hover toward the target area.

Related Links
Aurora Flight Sciences

ESA Invites Designs For Mars UAV
Noordwijk the Netherlands (SPX) Mar 29, 2006
ESA has invited aerospace students to submit ideas for an unmanned aerial vehicle suitable for exploring Mars. The agency said the best entries will win a place at the Euroavia Design Workshop to be held at the agency's Erasmus User Centre this July.

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