U.S. Navy has announced that it conducts tests of newest and revolutionary unmanned aircraft, called the V-BAT, at the flight deck of the Military Sealift Command expeditionary fast transport vessel USNS Spearhead (T-EPF 1).
Spearhead sailed in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Key West, Fla., to conduct fleet experiments with multiple unmanned aerial and undersea systems, to include the V-BAT vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle, according to a news release put out by the U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. Fourth Fleet.
Some of the experiments conducted included testing the operating the V-BAT unmanned aircraft to provide improved detection and monitoring to support counter-narcotics missions in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific and testing position, navigation and timing (PNT) system for navigation in GPS denied/degraded environments.
According to the current information, V-BAT is a long endurance VTOL design ideal for shipboard and confined area operation. A ducted fan design maximizes operational safety by eliminating exposed rotors. The aircraft is launched and recovered in a 20 x 20 ft clearing and can fly for up to 8+ hours with a 8+ lb payload.
The combination of VTOL operational convenience, with the safety of a shrouded fan and fixed-wing duration in a small UAV system, will revolutionize the availability of UAV operations from confined areas, bridging a critical mission gap at the tactical level where it is needed the most.
In addition to the U.S. Navy, a new unmanned aircraft is also being eyeing by the Army and Coast Guard.