Orbital UAV has been selected by Northrop Grumman Corporation to develop a hybrid propulsion system for a Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The system will combine an electric motor with Orbital’s flight-proven heavy fuel UAV engine, in order to provide a high-performance, reliable solution for VTOL unmanned aircraft.
Orbital UAV will initially develop, supply and support two prototypes of the new hybrid propulsion systems for integration into Northrop Grumman’s sUAS (small unmanned aerial system) development platform. This work will be performed at Orbital’s production and design facility in Perth, Western Australia. Delivery of these prototypes is anticipated to occur during 2021. If successful, this initial stage of the project may develop into additional commercial production opportunities.
Todd Alder, CEO and Managing Director of Orbital UAV, commented: “This new contract of work represents another opportunity for Orbital UAV to expand its customer base of global defence prime contractors and further develop our range of products to meet the evolving needs of the tactical UAV market.”
Keith Hirschman, Orbital UAV’s Vice-President for Global Growth, said: “The integration of our heavy fuel engine technology with a hybrid propulsion system represents a significant technological step forward for the tactical UAV industry. A hybrid propulsion system will address the growing demand for greater payload power.”
Rob Sova, director of the Autonomous Systems operating unit at Northrop Grumman, stated: “Northrop Grumman is developing the next generation of VTOL UAVs. Orbital UAV will help augment our research and development initiatives in anticipation and support of our customers’ needs.”