Silent Falcon™ Small Unmanned Aircraft System, United States of America
Silent Falcon™ is a solar/electric-powered small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) jointly developed by Silent Falcon UAS Technologies, Bye Aerospace, and Ascent Solar. It can be used in commercial, public safety, law enforcement and military applications.
The sUAS is designed to carry out intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations in border / coastal / marine / large areas. It can also be deployed to conduct a range of missions such as search and rescue, environmental survey, wildlife monitoring, wildfire management, agricultural survey, mapping, and event security.
The Aeryon SkyRanger is a small unmanned aerial system (sUAS) with vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capabilities.
The unmanned air vehicle was launched in August 2012 at the AUVSI Unmanned Systems North America conference held in Las Vegas. The sUAS entered into low rate initial production (LRIP) phase in March 2014. The Silent Falcon production air system powered by Ascent Solar Technologies' photovoltaic modules successfully performed its maiden flight in May 2014.
Neah Power Systems and Silent Falcon announced their partnership for integration of formic acid reformer (Formira®)-based fuel cell technology into the aircraft system in October 2014.
Silent Falcon sUAS design and features
The Silent Falcon sUAS features modular, efficient aerodynamic, fixed-wing structure made of lightweight carbon fibre composite materials. The sophisticated aerodynamic design combined with superior Lift to Drag (L/D) ratio wings offer ultra long endurance. The air system can conduct safe and silent operations during day and night conditions.
The man portable unmanned aircraft is easy to transport, operate and maintain. It is launched by catapult and recovered using parachute. It can also be launched by a rocket and recovered using wheeled mechanism.
The sUAS is 2m long and can be fitted with small (SF-S) / medium (SF-M) / long (SF-L) interchangeable wing configurations. The wing surfaces in all the three configurations are covered with integrated thin film photovoltaic panels. The wingspans of SF-S, SF-M and SF-L are 2.7m, 4m and 5.1m respectively. The weights vary between 11kg and 11.5kg depending on the wing size.
The unmanned air system and its payloads are controlled by a Horizon Unified Ground Control Station (UGCS).
Payloads aboard the Silent Falcon
The lightweight Silent Falcon sUAS can be equipped with a variety of sensors and payloads to meet different mission needs. The payload systems include a Discoverer Mid Wave Infrared (MWIR) payload sensor for capturing high-resolution still imagery and video; an XCAM-A photogrammetric airborne camera system for providing georegistered imagery mosaics; and a FalconVision™ gimbal high-definition EO/IR sensor with high quality dual imager capabilities.
The tactical drone is also capable of carrying multi-spectral imager, hyper-spectral imager, LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) device and aeromagnetic sensor.
Navigation and communication systems
The unmanned aircraft system is mounted with MicroPilot MP 2128 g2 autopilot; Microhard Nano DDL 12Mpbs 2.4GHz data link; global positioning system (GPS); Cobham's airborne blade and 15dBi omni-directional antennae. Optional communication equipments that can be fitted include Mode S transponder with ADS-B Out; Gen 4 Wave Relay Mobile Ad Hoc Network data link; and various ground antennas.
Silent Falcon sUAS propulsion and performance
The Silent Falcon small UAS is powered by flexible, ultra-lightweight thin film photovoltaic modules from Ascent Solar Technologies. It is installed with high-density lithium ion / polymer batteries for storing solar energy. The propulsion system also integrates a six-bladed propeller.
The propulsion system provides speeds varying between 32km/h and 112km/h, and a range of 15km, which can be extended to more than 50km with optional base station antenna. The mission loiter speed is approximately 37.04km/h. The operating altitude of the sUAS is between 200ft above ground level and 20,000ft above mean sea level. Silent Falcon can endure airborne for five to 12 hours based on its wing configuration.