Orbital Corporation has announced it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (‘MoU’) with Texas-based Skyways.
Under the terms of the MoU, Orbital UAV will deliver a pre-production, heavy fuel engine to Skyways for integration into the company’s next generation unmanned air system (UAS) and subsequent flight testing.
“Working with Skyways represents an exciting new development within the unmanned market for the Company,” said Todd Alder, CEO and Managing Director of Orbital UAV.Skyways has established itself at the forefront of unmanned cargo transportation for the US Navy – a growing and critical requirement within the service. Skyways continues to develop its platform to meet challenging requirements, including the platform’s ability to run efficiently on heavy fuel,” said Mr Alder.
Skyways has been selected by the US Navy’s Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) to provide a UAS prototype to demonstrate long-range naval ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore cargo transport.
The selection process required industry to demonstrate potentially viable commercial platforms that could autonomously transport a 20-pound (~9kg) payload to a moving ship 230 miles (~370km) away.
Skyways has been selected by US Navy to demonstrate long-range naval ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore cargo transport without refuelling. Of over 65 UAS platforms analysed, NAWCAD selected the Skyways Group-3 UAS platform for further testing and evaluation.
SHIP-TO-SHIP & SHORE-TO-SHIP UAV APPLICATIONS
The United States Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR)1 are investing in unmanned air systems capability and evaluating applications where naval cargo transport requires vehicles that can successfully operate through difficult environments that include heavy winds, open water and pitching vessels at sea. Historic data from US Navy casualty reports show that warships that move to non-mission capable or partially mission capable status often do so due to logistics-related issues like electronics parts or assemblies – 90 per cent of which are logistical deliveries weighing less than 50 pounds (~23kgs).
Transportation of these supplies is currently undertaken by tactical aircraft like the H-60 helicopter and V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft. UAS are seen as a more efficient and cost-effective solution.
“Since being selected by the US Navy last year, we’re continuing to develop our offering to ensure we meet the rigorous demands of ship-to-ship and shore-to-ship logistics,” said Charles Acknin, CEO and Founder of Skyways.
NEW ENGINE PRODUCTION OPPORTUNITY FOR ORBITAL UAV
Orbital UAV will deliver a heavy fuel pre-production engine to Skyways in the first quarter of calendar year 2022. The engine will be integrated by Skyways into the company’s next generation UAS for extensive flight testing, before being returned to Orbital UAV for evaluation.
While completion of the program, as specified in the MoU, will not have a material impact on Orbital UAV’s revenue for the current financial year, the partnership with Skyways represents another opportunity for Orbital UAV to diversify the Company’s customer base and potentially develop new future engine production lines.