Sept. 17, 2013 by Craig Hoyle – FG
London - Cranfield Aerospace and Raytheon UK are testing a new lightweight unmanned air system, which is now being promoted to potential buyers.
Aimed at the military intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance market, but also potentially suitable for a range of civilian applications, Cassius features a high level of autonomy, says Cranfield business adviser Keith Marshall.
"The operator just has to check if the weather conditions are within launch tolerance and find the wind direction, then after launch all they have to do is 'fly' the sensor," Marshall says.
First flown around two months ago and exhibited for the first time at the 10-13 September DSEi show in London, Cassius has a maximum take-off weight of 8.75kg (19.3lb), including a Raytheon-sourced electro-optical/infrared sensor payload. Flight endurance is in excess of 3h, and service ceiling above 5,000ft (1,520m).
"We have had a lot of interest, including with international customers," Marshall says. Civilian applications could include performing border or environmental monitoring tasks, he adds.
Flight-testing with the system is continuing, with the partners seeking to complete an initial 50h of activity.
"In the not too distant future there will be more UAS," says Phil Nettleship, chief of engineering at Raytheon UK's Airborne Solutions unit. "As a group, we have an interest in this sector."