Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation is developing Excalibur, a purpose-built armed, tactical, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The Excalibur technology demonstrator aircraft is scheduled for flight in late 2008 under contract to the Army's Aviation Applied Technology Directorate. It is designed to fill a gap between current weaponized UAVs and manned strike platforms.
Excalibur is capable of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) thanks to its hybrid propulsion system which is turbine-electric. The aircraft has two available modes; short take-off and landing (STOL) as well as short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL), depending on the mission duration. Excalibur can achieve both high-speed flight (in excess of 400 knots), and low speed loiter (100 knots).
The aircraft enables the operators to focus mainly on the mission at hand, as it operates with a high level of autonomy thanks to its advanced flight control system. In order for Excalibur to assume the attack role, it will be compatible with small, precision-guided munitions such as Hellfire, APKWS, Viper Strike, and more.
TFOT covered an innovative prototype of an autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) dubbed "Voyeur", which can be used for military applications such as surveillance and target acquisition, as well as locating and detonating improvised explosive devices. TFOT also covered a unique aircraft developed by the Israeli firm “Paralight Aviation” and designed to take aerial photographs under remote control, as well as a bat-inspired spy plane and the “L15” airship that is fully optimized for surveillance missions.
More information about Excalibur can be found at Aurora's official website.