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Mon, Jul 09, 2007

Warrior Aero-Marine Presses Ahead With Development Of Gull UAV

Unmanned Seaplane Could Be Used In Variety Of Roles

There may soon be another unmanned aerial vehicle coming to the sky -- and sea -- near you. Warrior (Aero-Marine) Limited tells ANN the company has made steady progress in the development of its Gull UXV platform.

Using its experience in designing offshore racing multihulls and the Centaur six-seat manned seaplane, Warriot states it has successfully tested the Gull UXV platform in a wide range of sea and wind conditions. There have been no incidents, and so far the aircraft has proven docile and outstandingly seaworthy, according to company officials.

Combined with Warrior's ongoing tests of surface launch & recovery systems, the flight tests bring the objective of a practical UAV system suited for integration to ship, within close arms reach.

"As a result of attaching robust vessel capability to aircraft speed and range, Warrior is generating a  list of new ways to add value to unmanned systems," said James Labouchere, Managing Director of Warrior (Aero-Marine) Limited. "Gull extends the reach of maritime payloads. It will bring payloads to bear quicker, closer and more persistently. It will enable new and more effective Concepts of Operations (CONOPS) in using multiple payload modules and switching between air and water and relocating at high speed."

Labouchere adds the Gull can leave and approach a ship at speed, while on the surface. This enables simultaneous operation of UAVs and other aerial systems (i.e. aircraft, helicopters and munitions).

Once on station, the Gull is also able to switch between surface and airborne roles in only a few seconds -- and to relocate on the surface using aircraft speeds.

Warrior says it has focused on making the basic Gull platform as capable as conceivably possible, in terms of seaworthiness, performance and ease of use in the widest range of environments. The success has done much to remove the reliance on complex systems, though sensors and increasing intelligence will make the system increasingly robust and capable in severe conditions.

Thanks to a series of follow-on contracts from the Ministry of Defence's Defence Technology Council (DTC), Warrior has worked with Roke Manor Research with regard to sensing technologies to aid automated management on the surface in rough sea, and with Blue Bear Systems Research in developing the 'SNAP' Surveillance and Navigation Autopilot) and specialist robotics for the Gull.

The Gull 36 is expected to be the first of a series of seaplane UAVs for contrasting payload modules and range objectives. These payloads will extend from airborne and surface operated reconnaissance, to dipping and towed sonar, to releasable and recoverable payloads.

FMI: www.centaurseaplane.com/

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