Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles|
Appendix 2: Modern UAVs
|Copyright © 2004-2005 Andreas Parsch|
The Shadow 200 short-range TUAV (Tactical UAV) was developed by AAI Corp. in the 1990s. When the RQ-6 Outrider TUAV ran into continued troubles in the 1997/98 time frame, the U.S. Army decided to conduct a competitive evaluation between the Outrider and Shadow 200 TUAV systems in 1999. The latter was declared winner of this competition, and AAI subsequently received a first LRIP (Low-Rate Initial Production) contract to provide Shadow 200 systems for further testing and evaluation. The UAV itself was officially designated RQ-7A. Between April 2001 and late 2002, the IOT&E (Initial Operational Test & Evaluation) phase of the program was conducted successfully, and in October 2002 the Shadow 200 was approved for full-rate production.
The RQ-7A is of the same twin-boom pusher layout as several other battlefield UAVs, like e.g. the RQ-2 Pioneer and the RQ-5 Hunter. It is powered by a UEL AR-741 rotary engine, and has a non-retractable tricycle landing gear for conventional wheeled take-off and landing. The RQ-7A can also be launched from a catapult and has a tailhook to catch arresting cables for a shorter landing run. A Shadow 200 system consists of four RQ-7A air vehicles and the associated equipment. The latter includes two GCSs (Ground Control Stations), from where the operators have full control over the UAVs and their sensors. Both LOS (Line-Of-Sight) and non-LOS datalinks are provided for command uplink and sensor data downlink. The Shadow 200 UAV can be equipped with a GPS-based navigation system for fully autonomous operations. The UAV's tasks include day/night reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition and BDA (Bomb Damage Assessment). The primary mission payload for the initial (Block 1) RQ-7A production vehicles is an IAI Tamam POP (Plug-In Optronic Payload) IR/EO (Infrared/Electro-Optical) sensor turret, but Block 2 vehicles are planned to use an improved Wescam EO/IR sensor. Other payloads are also under consideration, including a SAR/MTI (Synthetic Aperture Radar/Moving Target Indicator) unit.
|Photo: U.S. Army|
By March 2004, the U.S. Army has ordered 33 Shadow 200 systems (4 aircraft each) plus a number of additional air vehicles as attrition replacements. 20 systems have been delivered, and current procurement plans call for a total of up to 88 systems.
In August 2004, the improved RQ-7B air vehicle began to roll off from AAI's production line. The RQ-7B has larger wings with a more efficient airfoil and increased fuel capacity, allowing an endurance of up to 7 hours. Additionally, the vehicle has an enlarged tail, upgraded avionics (including an improved flight controller with an IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) and increased computing power), and new payload options. The RQ-7B will also be fitted with the Army's Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL).
Note: Data given by several sources show slight variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!
Data for RQ-7A/B:
|Length||3.40 m (11 ft 2 in)|
|Wingspan||3.89 m (12 ft 9 in)||4.27 m (14 ft)|
|Height||0.91 m (3 ft 0 in)|
|Weight||max: 149 kg (328 lb); empty: 75 kg (165 lb)||max: 170 kg (375 lb)|
|Speed||max: 204 km/h (110 knots); loiter: 130 km/h (70 knots)||max: 194 km/h (105 knots); loiter: 111 km/h (60 knots)|
|Ceiling||4270 m (14000 ft)||4570 m (15000 ft)|
|Range||125 km (67 nm)|
|Endurance||5 h||7 h|
|Propulsion||UEL AR-741 rotary engine; 28.3 kW (38 hp)|
 Kenneth Munson (ed.): "Jane's Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Targets, Issue 15", Jane's, 2000
 Tom Kaminski: "The Future is Here", article in Combat Aircraft Vol. 4, No. 6, 2003
 AAI Corp. Website
 PR Newswire Story, 4 August 2004
 "Unmanned Aircraft Systems Roadmap, 2005-2030", Office of the Secretary of Defense, August 2005
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