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AAI's Shadow Unmanned Aircraft takes flight with new extended wing design

19th April 2010 - 11:00 by the Shephard News Team

AAI Corporation, an operating unit of Textron Systems announced today that it has begun deliveries of the new extended wing kit for its Shadow Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems (TUAS).

The US Army has ordered 100 extended wing kits for distribution to Army and Marine Corps units.

With this enhancement, the Shadow aircraft’s wingspan increases from 14 to 20 feet. This additional wingspan increases the size of the aircraft’s fuel cell, and also increases aircraft endurance from six to nearly nine hours.

“At nearly 500,000 total flight hours, Shadow TUAS are flying around the clock for our customers in the field,” says Division Vice President, Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems Russell Walker of AAI. “We are constantly on the lookout for ways that the system can provide even greater overall value. Increasing mission endurance will reduce the number of mission launches and recoveries in a given day, likewise reducing workload for our warfighters in the field.”

The redesigned wing also includes hard points for external stores. This modification dramatically increases the Shadow aircraft’s mission flexibility in theater, allowing it to not only gather and disseminate electro-optical and infrared full-motion video and metadata with its standard payload, but also to carry additional payloads.

AAI will use a fleet update program, which officially kicked off at the beginning of February, to install additional enhancements to the aircraft. Wiring harness and software modifications are designed to enable the Shadow aircraft to accept the new laser designator payload, another new capability being fielded to Shadow systems. In addition, a new electronic fuel injection engine and fuel system will increase the system’s reliability under the wide range of environmental conditions encountered by fielded Shadow systems.

“The Shadow aircraft fleet update program enables us to rapidly transition all of these technologies to the field,” says Vice President Unmanned Aircraft Systems Steven Reid of AAI. “Our team is dedicated to providing a seamless user experience, as well as continuous growth of Shadow system capabilities. AAI’s years of experience as the designer, manufacturer and systems integrator for Shadow TUAS, as well as our system maintenance, logistics and operations expertise, give us an unmatched ability to deliver a total value solution for our customers.”

Source: AAI Corporation

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