Orbital announces UAV engine contract
Orbital will develop a next-generation unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) engine for an unnamed customer in the US under a new contract announced on 31 July. The initial $4.5 million contract will see the engine designed, developed and validated throughout 2013 and 2014.
Under the contract, the company will develop a small engine package that is durable, fuel-efficient and lightweight for the customer’s land and maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
Orbital will design the new engine around its Orbital FlexDI Engine Management System (EMS), which has been developed to provide advanced fuel preparation with very small fuel droplet size. This enables a small spark ignition engine to run on heavy fuels such as JP5 for naval operations, and JP8 for land-based operations; and satisfies the US Department of Defense ‘one fuel’ policy initiative to eliminate gasoline fuels for safety and logistics reasons.
FlexDI also satisfies stringent cold start and other environmental conditions required for SUAS applications, without the need for any fuel pre-heating or conditioning. Orbital will also seek to provide extended range and increased payload capacity for the engine, as well as deliver improved fuel-efficiencies.
The engines will be delivered from the company’s Balcatta SUAS engine manufacturing facility in Western Australia.
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