High Eye looking to win future small helicopter drone contract
Dutch UAV innovator High Eye recently achieved another milestone in the testing and verification of the HEF32 VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) drone in South Korean waters. The air vehicle completed successful trials from a Korean Coast Guard vessel in proximity to the Chinese border, the company told on Wednesday. For that mission, the unmanned helicopter was fitted with a multifunctional payload, including AIS (automatic identification system), IFF (identification friend or foe), and an electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor turret to track down illegal fishery vessels within South Korean territory.
The rotary-wing drone has been developed over a period of more than five years while rigorous testing was undertaken in several continents under the most adverse environmental conditions. The heart of the system is centrered around the gearbox and flight controls, based on a modular layout. The entire airframe is constructed from carbon fibre parts. High Eye confirmed that it plans to introduce an improved variant of the 1,75m long HEF32 model that will allow customers to select different engine options, encompassing a JP-5 or JP-8 hevay fuel option.
The current version uses a 32cc two-stroke petrol engine. Fuel is supplied via a five litre fuel tank and a simple gravity-feed system, backed-up by a fuel pump. The company also noted that, “other improvements have been made to provide full redundancy on the communications suite, increase flight endurance, (…) and allow GPS-denied navigation.”
The current variant offers an endurance of more than four hours plus a radio-range of 50 kilometres, without requiring any infrastructure except a small landing zone and whilst retaining man-portability. High Eye said the system copes with several Mil-specs, and is, “capable of enduring the toughest conditions without affecting its capabilities.”
Dr. Stefan NItschke