Royal Navy Selects Animal Dynamics Parafoil Drone for Heavy Lift Challenge
The Royal Navy has selected Animal Dynamics’ parafoil drone for the next round of the Uncrewed Aerial Systems Heavy Lift Challenge (UASHLC).
The Stork STM uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) beat out competitors in the pre-selection flying competition last year, demonstrating “significant” payload carrying capacity “over a large distance,” the company said in a press statement.
Heavy Lift Challenge
The UASHLC Phase 2 will explore uncrewed technologies for logistics supply roles in maritime environments to possibly free up manned platforms such as helicopters for “more specialized tasks.”
The challenge seeks technologies to deliver “supplies and equipment intra-theatre (ship-to-ship) and inter-theatre (ship-to-shore and vice versa),” the firm explained.
“We are very excited to have won a place in the UASHLC through our performance in the fly-offs against strong competition from established UAV and aerospace companies,” Animal Dynamics CEO Adrian Thomas said.
“We look forward to the next stage of flight trials when we can demonstrate the continuing performance and capability enhancements of the Stork STM and the clear path to commercialization.”
The UAV can fly up to 400 kilometers (248 miles) carrying 135 kilograms (297 pounds) of payload and 800 kilometers (1,764 miles) at 100 kilograms (220 pounds).
The drone can carry a range of payloads according to the task, such as refrigeration for blood transport, fuel, sensors, and retardant.
According to the manufacturer, the UAV has five times the range of an average quadcopter and could take off from 50 meters (164 feet) of unprepared ground.
In addition, the UAV can fly autonomously beyond the line of sight and operate in contested environments without GPS or communications.
Additional Features for Maritime Role
As part of the next round of testing, Animal Dynamics will “marinize” the Stork by integrating secure satellite communications, ensuring around-the-world operation.
The drone will also be fitted with a sonobuoy dispenser to demonstrate its capacity to carry a range of payloads. It will also go through “additional wing development work,” including a retraction capability for safe deck operations.