Orbital delivers new engine prototypes to Textron Systems for evaluation

Image credit: Orbital, Textron Systems

Perth-based Orbital Corporation has delivered the first new engine prototypes for the second engine program with Textron Systems, one of the world’s largest suppliers of tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (TUAVs).

In an ASX announcement, Orbital said it was contracted by Textron Systems for the development of modifications to existing engines for the company’s Aerosonde unmanned aircraft system (UAS). 

The upgrades have been made to boost take-off power and improved real-time engine health monitoring and diagnostics capability.

“Having identified and agreed the optimal upgrade pathway for the engine program, we are pleased to provide these initial prototype engines for evaluation,” said Todd Alder, CEO and managing director of Orbital UAV.

Alder said the team is quite delighted that Textron Systems chose Orbital UAV to carry out this upgrade program because the Aerosonde platform is one of the most recognisable UAS currently in use.

According to the ASX-listed company, Textron Systems’ Aerosonde UAS is field-tested with more than 600,000 flight hours.

The Aerosonde UAS is also outfitted to carry customer-selected payloads in a single flight, day-and-night full-motion video, communications relay, signals intelligence, and ISR capabilities for land and maritime missions.

Currently, Textron Systems is evaluating the prototype engines.

The program is anticipated to go into production in the first half of the fiscal year 2024, subject to customer acceptance and demand.

In addition to this engine improvement program, Orbital UAV said it is also moving forwards with the installation of a new engine design with the company’s exclusive fuel and control systems into Textron Systems’ Aerosonde Hybrid Quad UAS.