American Dynamics Flight Systems, a US-based company that focuses on the development of innovative aerospace and defense systems, has recently unveiled its “AD-150” – a novel Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), capable of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL). According to the company, the UAV’s unique design, combined with the vehicle’s high-speed capabilities, makes it an ideal choice for both land and sea-based operations.
AD-150’s development was initiated due to an increased interest in maritime capable VTOL UAV’s by the United States Department of Defense. The vehicle is currently considered a potential candidate for the United States Marine Corps’ Tier III VUAS program, in accordance with, which it should be capable of, operating alongside Bell’a MV-22 Osprey tilt rotor transports and Lockheed Martin’s F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighters in a broad range of expeditionary operations. According to a statement released by the US Navy, the minimum speed required for the qualifying UAV is 200kt (230 mph), although 240kt (276 mph) will be highly preferred – ADFS engineers say AD-150 easily passes this requirement, reportedly reaching maximum speed of 300kt (345 mph).
Among the vehicle’s most notable features is ADFS’ High Torque Aerial Lift (HTAL) implementation, which according to the company, maximizes the vehicle’s control during hover and transition to forward flight. AD-150 sports a modular mission payload design, with internal bays and external stores located in the vehicle’s center of gravity – according to the company, such a versatile payload bay configuration allows the AD-150 to support “the most demanding payload systems and missions.” A released AD-150 specifications document states that the vehicle’s maximum takeoff weight currently stands on 2,250 lbs, while its payload capacity is 500 lbs.
The UAV features a composite airframe, which was constructed using carbon fiber and Kevlar materials – ADFS engineers say the design was fully validated through the use of reputable computational fluid dynamics (CFD). “American Dynamics Flight Systems’ CFD tool suite allows the company’s engineers to model and simulate virtually any type of aerodynamic and thermodynamic physical operating condition that the AD-150 aircraft may encounter. This capability not only allows the company to internally validate designs, but also to accurately predict aircraft and system performance in different operating environments,” say the inventors.
Additional features of the AD-150 include a high-performance Pratt and Whitney Canada PW200 Turboshaft engine, as well as advanced interoperable data links and Ground Control Station (GSC) interfaces. One of the first full-scale models of the AD-150 was on display at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International’s (AUVSI) Unmanned Systems North America exhibition in Washington D.C. on August 7th, 2007.
TFOT has previously covered a number of innovative unmanned aerial systems, including the DraganFlyer X6 helicopter, which was designed specifically for remote controlled digital photography and digital video streams. TFOT also covered Northrop Grumman’s X-47B drone – a mostly autonomous UAV which was designed to take off from and land on an aircraft carrier and support mid-air refueling.
More information on the AD-150, including a sample mission scenario video of the UAV, can be found here.
Sarah is a Computer Science and Business Management student at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Currently she is spending most of her time either at the university laboratories or tutoring at MEET - Middle East Education through Technology project, where she works as a programming instructor