Aero Design & Development "Hornet"


Flight testing of the Israeli-developed Hornet vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned air vehicle (UAV) is under way. The Hornet is being developed by Aero Design and Development (AD&D).

Intended primarily for short-range operation, the UAV can also be used in a manned role as it shares components with the Hummingbird manned VTOL vehicle, including a virtually identical propulsion unit.

With the Hornet's mechanical and propulsion systems based on those of the more mature Hummingbird, most development work on the new vehicle is centred on software issues, to allow the UAV to fly autonomous missions with a variety of payloads.

Initial flight tests of the private-venture Hornet were tethered. The wires were removed after the the navigation elements of the autopilot were fitted.

Primary control is through the tilting of the propulsion unit and its duct relative to the payload enclosure, so that the thrust produces the desired moments around the vehicle's centre of gravity. When operated as a manned platform, the control is similar except that the electric actuators are replaced by the pilot's feet, with the pilot using his sense of balance to prevent overcontrol.

AD&D believes the Hornet's main advantage over other VTOL UAVs is its 2.2m (7ft) diameter in relation to its 115kg (255lb)payload. In addition, the shape of the payload bay (the cylinder on top of the propulsion duct) allows the installation of equipment with 360° coverage.

Ground monitoring is via an AD&D developed, suitcase-sized, ground-control station, with a data telemetry link and a real-time video link to the UAV.

AD&D general manager Rafi Yoeli says conversion of a Hornet to a manned Hummingbird configuration can be completed in the field by two people in under 1h, without the need for specialist tools. Maximum speed is 40kt (75km/h) while maximum hovering altitude is around 6,000ft.

AD&D's Hornet is flying untethered flight trials.

Flight International, 2000