Testing Use Of Jet Fuel In Unmanned Aircraft
Insitu, Inc. announced this week the company recently flew Heavy
Fuel Engine (HFE) equipped ScanEagles in Iraq. This was the first
demonstration of HFE technology in a real-world environment and was
conducted in cooperation with the US Navy.
The HFE-equipped ScanEagles have flown more than 350 hours,
including flying 12+ hour missions in both land and maritime
scenarios. Insitu is developing long-range, autonomous unmanned
aircraft systems (UAS) and advanced tools for intelligence,
surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR).
Heavy fuel refers to the kerosene-based fuel used in diesel
and/or jet aircraft engines such as JP5, JP8, or Jet-A. Military
planners have put the development of a heavy-fuel capability for
unmanned aircraft as a high-priority to satisfy the safety concerns
of naval operations and to streamline and simplify the logistics
for remote deployments. ScanEagles flying in Iraq are using
Insitu, in partnership with Boeing and Sonex Research, Inc.
developed the HFE to satisfy the needs of warfighters. The system
offers significant enhancements to the end user including simple
starting and operation, a wider weather envelope, improved
reliability, and increased endurance. The effort took two years of
development that resulted in more than 2000 hours of testing.
During that time, ScanEagle set a new endurance record of 28
hours, 44 minutes in flight using JP5.
"Real-world testing is imperative in preparing a heavy fuel
engine for full deployment," said Charlie Guthrie, Insitu Chief
Technology Officer. "These test flights clearly demonstrate the
HFE's operability, maintainability, and reliability to the end
user. Our team is working hard to further refine the technology to
provide a capable asset for our troops."
ScanEagle is developed in partnership with Boeing, and is used
to provide services for the US Marine Corps, US Navy, US Air Force,
and Australian Defence Forces. ScanEagle has logged more than
80,000 hours of flight time since it was first deployed with the
Marines in 2004 and with the Navy in 2005, including more than
1,000 shipboard launch-recovery cycles from Navy ships.