First Mission Away From AZ Base
Raytheon's Cobra Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) conducted the
first official unmanned aircraft flight over North Dakota June 25.
The Cobra flew approved flight profiles through military restricted
airspace over Camp Grafton South, a National Guard training
facility 45 miles south of Devil's Lake, ND.
In addition to being the first unmanned aircraft to fly in North
Dakota airspace, these were also the Cobras' first flights away
from their home station in Tucson, AZ. During the three-day
deployment to the site, the Cobras completed nine flights and
executed completely autonomous takeoffs, landings and in-flight
navigation along pre-planned routes.
The flights were part of Raytheon's collaboration with the
University of North Dakota, John D. Odegard School of Aerospace
Sciences, the University of North Dakota School of Engineering and
Mines and the North Dakota National Guard.
In one of the planned missions from the Camp Grafton South
airfield, a Cobra UAS carried the PrecisionAg digital imaging
payload developed by the University of North Dakota Unmanned
Aircraft Engineering team. The PrecisionAg payload is
designed to take digital images of crops and rangeland for
monitoring vegetation health for North Dakota agribusiness
"With its ability to conduct completely autonomous flight
profiles and its FAA experimental airworthiness certification,
Cobra is positioned to be the preferred unmanned aircraft system
for the science, research and engineering communities," said Don
Newman, Raytheon director of Unmanned Systems. "Cobra can stay
aloft for more than three hours with a 25-pound payload, providing
researchers with an affordable, stable platform for an array of
sophisticated electronic equipment and sensors."
Cobra is a low-cost unmanned aircraft designed to support
Raytheon's development, integration and test of unmanned systems
technologies. The aircraft has a wingspan of 10 feet and is 9-feet
The Cobra UAS was designed by Raytheon to support the
development, test and demonstration of sensor systems; networked
command, control and communications systems; and unmanned aircraft
system architectural concepts.
The Cobra UAS integrates advanced systems and capabilities from
several Raytheon businesses, including Tucson-based Missile
Systems; Intelligence and Information Systems, based in Garland,
TX; Space and Airborne Systems in El Segundo, CA; and McKinney,
TX-based Network Centric Systems.
As ANN reported, during the
same timeframe as the Cobra deployment, the 119th Wing of the North
Dakota Air National Guard flew its first unmanned aerial vehicle
(UAV) mission from Fargo. The 119th Wing converted from flying
F-16A Fighting Falcons, to the new missions of the UAS and the
C-21A Lear Jet cargo aircraft, in January 2007.