01/03/11 By Gayle Putrich Flight International
A budget crisis in Congress has caused Aurora Flight Sciences' Orion unmanned air system to stall out before it even leaves the ground. Officially unveiled in November 2010, Orion was selected by the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in late August to meet the objectives of the medium altitude global ISR and Ccommunications (Magic) Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD). The programme's goal is to demonstrate a five-day flight of the Orion at 20,000ft with a 453kg (1,000lb) intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance payload. Before the contract announcement, the company had hoped to make a first flight with the UAV in late October 2010 but agreed to slow the schedule for further evaluation of payload options, concepts of operations and requirements by the air force, Aurora says.