Aerosonde Mark 5 UAS makes first flight

AAI Corp. flies its newest unmanned aerial system for the first time in preparation for potential use by the U.S. military.

AAI Corp. (Hunt Valley, Md.), an operating unit of Textron Systems, a Textron Inc. company, announced on Jan. 5 that it has conducted a successful first flight of its new Aerosonde Mark 5 unmanned aircraft system (UAS) at Yuma Proving Grounds in Yuma, Ariz. This initial flight met or exceeded all test objectives and validated the aerodynamic capabilities of the new airframe. Future flight testing is planned to validate additional key performance parameters for this aircraft class, including new payload capabilities as they are integrated. This validation process was initiated in preparation for AAI's possible entry of the Aerosonde Mark 5 UAS in the upcoming U.S. Navy's Small Tactical UAS, or STUAS, program as well as the U.S. Marine Corps' Tier II UAS program.

While the Aerosonde Mark 5 aircraft has been under development for two years, this successful test flight validation program was started once the services confirmed their requirements for these programs. As such, AAI designed the aircraft's final configuration to comply with the objectives of these programs. In accordance with these requirements, the Aerosonde Mark 5 UAS builds on the best practices of AAI's more than 20 years designing, producing, fielding and sustaining UAS.

"We have incorporated the best features of our proven Aerosonde aircraft and Shadow(r) tactical UAS," explains Steven Reid, AAI's vice president of Unmanned Aircraft Systems. "The Aerosonde Mark 5 delivers impressive endurance with superior intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and target acquisition capabilities. Our experience and understanding of our military customers' needs uniquely position us to meet these Navy and Marine Corps requirements."