PteroDynamics has successfully demonstrated the advanced capabilities of its automated Transwing® vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle system (UAS) at the U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet Hybrid Fleet Campaign Event (HFCE), on board the expeditionary fast transport USNS Burlington.
PteroDynamics demonstrated the unique capabilities of the Transwing aircraft to integrate UAS into the fleet for ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore logistics and critical maritime resupply missions. Over the course of six days starting October 8, 2023, Transwing aircraft flew nine autonomous launch and recovery demonstrations from USNS Burlington in Key West, Florida.
The Hybrid Fleet Campaign Event focused on the evaluation of combined unmanned and manned systems to allow the U.S. 4th Fleet to execute its larger operational missions. It provided an invaluable experimentation venue for multiple developers of the latest technologies to embark with the operational force, evaluate operational capabilities of new innovative systems in a real-world environment, and receive feedback from Sailors and Marines.
It also served as an opportunity for senior leaders to see for themselves the capabilities of systems that could support the hybrid fleet. In attendance at the Hybrid Fleet Campaign Event were Vice Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Lisa Franchetti and other distinguished representatives from the U.S. Navy, the Royal Navy, the Royal Australian Navy, the Royal Netherlands Navy, and the Swedish Navy.
“Participating in The Hybrid Fleet Campaign Event brought us closer to our goal of providing the U.S. Navy with a flexible and scalable shore-to-ship, ship-to-ship, and ship-to-shore automated cargo delivery capability,” said Tim Whitehand, PteroDynamics vice president of engineering.
“Flight testing on board the USNS Burlington gave us a unique and valuable opportunity to collect performance data on the Transwing system in an operational environment. The information gathered during the event will accelerate development and seed further innovation. We are grateful for the opportunity to participate in this important exercise and the support of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) and Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR).”
Transwing VTOL Aircraft System
PteroDynamics’ Transwing is a revolutionary VTOL aircraft system that overcomes the limitations inherent in other VTOL designs by combining the speed, range, and endurance of fixed-wing aircraft with superior VTOL performance in an efficient, highly automated platform.
The Transwing’s folded wing configuration enables a high degree of controllability and multicopter-like handling qualities, providing excellent gust tolerance and the ability to take off and land in turbulent winds and high sea states commonly encountered by vessels at sea. The aircraft folds its wings to transition seamlessly between vertical and winged horizontal flight, eliminating the extra weight and drag of multiple additional propulsors and their support structures.
The successful flight tests conducted from USNS Burlington provided critical data on key operational capabilities of the Transwing platform:
- Integration of the UAS with ship operations
- Autonomous takeoff and landing from a flight deck with computer vision
- Takeoff, landing, and transition from VTOL to cruise flight performance
- Navigation to and from a moving ship at sea