Textron Systems has completed a successful first flight and maritime integration of the Aerosonde Small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS) on a US Navy Guided Missile Destroyer (DDG).
The success of this first flight emphasizes the system’s ability to offer a mature, reliable aircraft to support ship-based missions being performed now, all within a small aviation footprint in a higher sea state environment.
The integration follows a September 2021 award by the US Navy of a multi-year Aerosonde task order for maritime Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) services aboard two DDGs.
Aerosonde offers multi-mission capability and, with over 550,000 flight hours, proven reliability and performance. Integrated into the ship’s combat systems, the Aerosonde is equipped to deliver day/night full-motion video, wide area surveillance, communications relay, signals intelligence and more. The expeditionary platform is powered by a heavy fuel engine and is capable of point takeoff and landing, minimizing impact to the ship’s operations.
“This flight for Aerosonde represents the expansion of the platform’s real-world maritime mission. Already operating on the expeditionary sea base ship USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams (ESB-4), we are excited to see Unmanned Systems contribute to the Navy’s critical missions across the globe,” said Wayne Prender, Senior Vice President of Air Systems. “The system’s long endurance capabilities make it an ideal platform for maritime ISR operations; search and rescue; and many other missions providing the US Navy with enhanced real-time situational awareness at any time, anywhere.”