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New UK UAV to Fly By 2009!

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posted on Jun, 2 2006 @ 03:05 AM
Whilst reading through one of the engineering mags which pop through the door every month I noticed an article which mentioned a new british UAV being developed by british universities.

The UAV is called the the Flapless Air Vehicle Industrial Research or FLAVIIR and is intended as a proof of concept model which uses fluidic thrust vectoring ( direction of flight changed with secondary air flow ) and new software which will enable the airvehicle to fly autonomously without the need for any flaps or flying controls.

This sounds very much like some of the secret stuff which is possibly being operated out of Area 51, BAe Warton or the new airparc in Llanbedr but the intresting thing is that it is being developed by teams from numerous british Uni's and is being managed by Cranfield Uniiversity (the UK's MIT!!!) with a £6.2m budget.

The picture shown with the article looks very much like a BAe artwork of one of their UCAV's, i.e a triangle with a intake where the cockpit should have been, so I am not quite sure what it really will look like but at least it is something real to discuss and post about and not a fictional or virtual A/c which seem to get most of the attention on ATS these days........!


posted on Jun, 2 2006 @ 03:18 AM
I have read something about this before. I think its definately interesting especially since this form of thrust vectoring for control would be very stealthly as there are no edges on the control surfaces to reflect the radar waves.

Here is the official website but its not full of information.

There is this good photo though, apparently this is just a prototype but the real one will be based on this shape.

posted on Jun, 2 2006 @ 03:34 AM
Thanks for that GFAD the model shown has flying controls but as you said the prototype may be based on this platform.....looking at the shape of it it makes you wonder how many people have seen this or somethig similar flying about and, if not used to seeing aircraft flying about and not visually scaleing them correctly, have thought Aurora or HALO....!


posted on Jun, 2 2006 @ 05:12 AM
They have already flown a prototype version of this aircraft last year, it's a very interesting program.

Here is an article I've written about the program: FLAVIIR

posted on Jun, 2 2006 @ 11:28 AM
This topic is very interesting. Mike who sometimes posts here is very well informed on this subject.

The stealth implications should not go unnoticed.

A FLAVIIR air vehicle, a modified RC plane, has already flown at Manchester Uni as part of the project.

The Eclipse (the black UAV pictured in the original post) was made by Tasuma UK:

Interesting trivia: The white cap seen near the nose of the Eclipse appears to be the same as those used on other BAE Systems related UAVs such as the Corax and Raven. This helps with judging the size of the Corax/Raven:

(look at the rear fuselage, there are four white fuel caps).

[edit on 2-6-2006 by planeman]

posted on Jun, 2 2006 @ 01:25 PM
nice, yeah ive seen this project before something i'm looking forward to seeing

posted on Jun, 2 2006 @ 01:45 PM
Thanks for the vote of confidence planeman!

There’s a lot of confusion around the Eclipse vehicle mainly due to the fact that BAE doesn’t put captions underneath the pictures in there press releases. It’s been widely assumed that Eclipse is a FLAVIIR specific vehicle and that it flew with a flapless configuration since BAE put a picture of it with an article on FLAVIIR. This isn’t the case, Eclipse was built by a group of BAE Systems engineers as part of a course with Cranfield University; this was around 2001 IIRC. It does however, and as already has been said, form the basis of the final FLAVIIR vehicle. This doesn’t seem to fit with a few CG concepts of the final demonstrator I’ve seen though.

So far they’ve flown three demonstrators, one using circulation control, one using fluid thrust vectoring and a third combining the two. The former two were based on COTS model airplanes while the latter was a new build aircraft based on the X-45A planform, the reason this configuration was chosen was to demonstrate the technology on a vehicle designed for a real world mission, in this case a UCAV.

The following is an interesting article and includes a picture of, I think, a wind tunnel model of the third integrated demonstrator. Also includes a couple of little graphics explaining CC and FTV.

Also something I’ve literally just this minute noticed is that the cap on the Eclipse seems to be a new addition, if you look on older photos (sorry don’t have any on this computer) it isn’t there. Wonder why. By the way there’s a pic in planeman’s link.


[edit on 2-6-2006 by Mike_A]

posted on Jun, 2 2006 @ 03:56 PM
I don't know if there's a link here but Cranfield Aerospace built the X-48B BWB for Boeing.

posted on Jun, 2 2006 @ 06:58 PM
There isn't a link between that and FLAVIIR but that there is a pseudo link between that and another BAE funded UAV development programme. In addition to building the X-48B Cranfield was also a partner in the BAE Kestrel UAV which preceded Raven and Corax. The Kestrel, who's outer skin was built by Tasuma, was used by Cranfield to develop there understanding of BWB airframes for potential future airliners.

I wonder whether Cranfield will be privy to the result of the X-48 test flights.

posted on Jun, 2 2006 @ 07:16 PM
is this 'uav kestrel' i keep hearing about?? (more pictures here but too bad the links are dead).

if so, i now know, kestrel/corax/raven/herti/project churchill/FLAVIIR

but how many of these ucav/uav's will come into service? 1/2/3 or all of them??

still new to this aircraft business so not sure how all this stuff works

posted on Jun, 2 2006 @ 10:17 PM
Different Kestral. The BAE Systems Kestral:

posted on Jun, 3 2006 @ 05:23 AM
niceone cheers mate, ive been waiting to see pictures of that

so what is that other one then, is the one ive posted a british project?

posted on Jun, 3 2006 @ 07:13 AM
Yeah that one's British as well, though the UAV version is called Lancer. Kestrel is the manned aircraft.

Interesting fact about the BAE Kestrel, despite it being classified it's been known about for years as Tasuma has had a picture of it on there site ever since they built it in around 2002; just no one thought to ask about it.

Edit - to answer your other questions, none of the BAE UAVs are expected to come into UK service at the minute and none will be made available to customers. However a production version of HERTI is being developed and should be available by the end of 2006, there's a little bit of speculation that Saudi Arabia might be the first export customer.

Corax might form the basis of a new HALE ISTAR system that is being considered as part of the Dabinett project which aims to provide a long range persistent ISTAR capability, space based assets are also under consideration and the Qinetiq TopSat might play a part. HERTI could also find a use here, it is known that the UK was interested in buying a few Predators but this fell through, given that HERTI is in the same kind of capability bracket I think there could certainly be some interest.

Raven is forming the basis of the technology demonstrator being developed as part of SUAV(E), though BAE and it’s team (Qinetiq, Smiths and RR) have begun work towards this a contract to begin development is to be signed this year, it’s fairly likely that this will happen at Farnborough.

Kestrel is pretty much retired as far as I know but I wouldn’t be surprised if Cranfield still uses it.

Project Churchill is something completely different. It is not a technology programme and will not result in any new UAV being developed. It’s being conducted with the US as part of SUAV(E), the aim is to develop a better understanding of the associated issues surrounding UCAVs operated in a coalition environment. The project will culminate in 2009 with live demonstrations using UK and US manned and unmanned assets, this might include the Boeing X-45A, Northrop X-47A(B?) and the BAE Raven. The other side of SUAV(E) is the technology development work, the two won’t be mixed and the UK will not be transferring any technology to the US though it may, through ETAP, transfer some information to European nations. Perhaps this is a result of the recent F-35 problems.


[edit on 3-6-2006 by Mike_A]

posted on Jun, 5 2006 @ 09:46 AM
It looks to me like an ever cheaper way to make a UCAV so 'exotic' that it /can't/ compete with conventional airframes.

Flap blowing has been around since Methuselah suckled teat and Coanda differentials have also been experimented with on various (F/A-18 HARV and X-29 followon testing) platforms for quite awhile.

Myself, it's always wiser to go mechanical when you can afford to because the control vector is a constant based on mechanical displacement rather than a scalar variable of fluid flows across a dynamic wing environment.

And we are edging rapidly towards single integrated control packages (actuator, regenerative pump and signaling agencies) if not outright electric flight control.

Other than he fact that it is amazingly like a YF-23 for planform and LEX configuration, I cannot understand why anybody would want to put the inlet that far back over a delta wing, nor why it has residual hints as a cockpit and radome.

Something smells of 'unmanned for manned followon' testbedding here.

The only truly interesting element for me is the buildup of the mold form. Because even if the wing must be more or less solid cast (fluidic control pipes, fuel and spars/stringers all inaccessible once cast) the ability to wrap the airframe's body around prepackaged and eminently replaceable MEP/Powerplant/Weapons/Auxilliaries 'rafts' will go a HUGE ways towards reinventing a stanardized system of aircraft design which is both readily expandable and cannibalistically harvestable in terms of running a limited life'd airframe until it falls dead on the ramp and then shifting the bits to replacement systems or as a 'shopless' form of maintenance.

Of course these are just scaled demonstrators and you would still need /some/ kind of depot level equipment handling on a 1:1 unit. But the novel idea of no more reversible control rod connections, no more liquid seals, no more cable routing and and and as a conventional 'flashlights and foul words' feeding of X through Y until something scrapes out the other end or the Sergeant screams you're messing up Z' type repairs is a good one.

Modern aircraft should fly like cars. Kick the tires, turn the key and away we go.

That they /don't/ is typically representative of 'human error' somewhere in the system. Starting at the cockpit and heading aft.


FATE/ICE We've been playing around with Improved Control Effectors for a LONG time.

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