The US Navy has successfully completed the first flight and maritime integration of a Textron Aerosonde drone aboard a guided missile destroyer.
The unmanned aircraft will enhance the maritime intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities of the US Navy.
According to Textron, the success of the first flight emphasized the company’s ability to offer a “mature, reliable aircraft” that can support various types of ship-based missions.
“This flight for Aerosonde represents the expansion of the platform’s real-world maritime mission,” company official Wayne Prender said in a press release. “We are excited to see unmanned systems contribute to the Navy’s critical missions across the globe.”
Textron is set to deploy another Aerosonde drone to a second US Navy destroyer later this year.
The Aerosonde Drone
Designed for expeditionary land- and sea-based operations, the Aerosonde small drone can deliver simultaneous day/night full-motion video, communications relay, signals intelligence, and a customer-selected payload in a single flight.
It is powered by a heavy fuel engine and is reportedly “field-proven” with more than 500,000 flight hours in the desert heat and Arctic cold.
Textron said that the drone can fly at a maximum speed of 65 knots (120 kilometers/74 miles per hour) at a range of up to 140 kilometers (87 miles).
Prender said that the Aerosonde’s long-endurance capabilities of more than 14 hours make it an “ideal platform” for maritime ISR operations, search and rescue, and other missions.
It can also provide the US Navy with enhanced real-time situational awareness at anytime and anywhere.