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Tactical Weather Drone Under Development for US Air Force

By Mike Ball / 24 Apr 2020

Black Swift tactical weather drone

Black Swift Technologies has been awarded a contract by the United States Air Force (USAF) for the development of an unmanned aerial system (UAS) that will autonomously conduct atmospheric profiling missions. Accurate local weather forecasting is important for successful support of a variety of Air Force, Army and Special Operations Forces (SOF) operation, including supply cargo drops.

The new unmanned aircraft platform, called the Black Swift S0 (S-zero), is a compact, rugged drone designed to be hand-launched and quickly climb up to 15,000 feet. Its unique tail design allows deep-stall landing with near vertical descent and 10-foot accuracy. The rapid ascent and descent allow the S0 to quickly and accurately capture 3D wind profiles at various altitudes.

The S0 has been designed for flight in extreme atmospheric conditions, including hurricane deployments, and has a flight endurance of 90 minutes. Its advanced avionics enable fully autonomous operation with minimal training. It can be operated as a launch-and-forget platform, carrying out rapid atmospheric profiling with automated sampling patterns and scripting.

The modular design of the system allows for rapid integration of new sensors and capabilities. Onboard Multi-Hole Probe (MHP) measurements are tightly coupled with the aircraft’s control algorithms, allowing significant improvement in measurement accuracy, while its data formatting and transmission seamlessly integrate with existing Air Force systems.

Jack Elston, Ph.D., CEO of Black Swift Technologies, commented: “The S0 is a new and unique technology for the Air Force. Not only is the S0 simple and easy to use, resulting in a dramatic reduction in training time, but through volume sales to both the commercial and defense markets, the Air Force will be getting this advanced technology at commercial prices, not DOD prices, which in the long run will be very valuable, if for no other reason, simply the cost savings.”

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Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact