Orbital to supply FlexDI engines to AAI

  • 29-May-2012 04:07 EDT

Aerosonde unmanned aerial vehicle, shown ready for take-off, demonstrates an endurance of more than 26 h with minimal payload and more than 10 h endurance with a full electro-optic/IR payload. (NASA)

Orbital has been contracted to supply heavy-fuel engines for use in AAI Unmanned Aircraft Systems' Aerosonde Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS). AAI recently won significant military contracts from the U.S. Navy and Special Operations Command to provide SUAS fee-for-service operations utilizing the newest configuration of its Aerosonde SUAS. Orbital, headquartered in Perth, Western Australia, is contracted to supply engines up to a value of approximately $4.7 million throughout 2012. This new engine and system uses Orbital's FlexDI Engine Management system to enable spark ignition operation of heavy fuels such as JP5 (naval operations) and JP8 (land-based operations) satisfying a U.S. Department of Defense initiative to eliminate gasoline fuels for safety and logistic reasons. One key advantage of the Orbital technology is extended range; the improved fuel efficiency can increase the range on a typical mission by 40% over current technology, or can allow AAI to increase the payload.

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