The latest issue of Outpost announced that unmanned tiger shark aircraft were being tested at the Yuma Proving Ground, the U.S. Army’s premier test center.
Navmar Applied Sciences Corporation’s (NASC) TigerShark is a proven unmanned fixed-wing aircraft that has endured thousands of missions without fail. Its robust design and low cost make it ideal for applications ranging from UAV flight training to complex payload integration for operational purposes and scientific research.
“The autopilot in this airframe is amazing,” said Troy Rodriguez, YPG test coordinator. “It is a reliable workhorse that is very precise when it comes to the flight profile programmed into it.
Today’s tiger shark flies many miles from its ground controller, delivering high quality video for more than eight hours day and night while lounging quietly over its head. It has a laser radar that can see through obstacles like leaves and camouflage to produce three-dimensional images of an object. All of these features have been built into the platform over the past 15 years, and the vast majority of testing for each subsequent improvement has been done at YPG.
“Today’s tiger shark is just the beginning,” said David Reed, Navair electronics engineer. “When we started it was basically a big remote controlled toy. Now it is a fully developed UAV system.
The tiger shark was a workhorse for surveillance and reconnaissance operations in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2006 and 2014 and is still being tested at YPG today.
“We completed over 10,000 combat missions and 75,000 hours of flight time in the theater,” said Reed. “We’re not currently in the theater, but we’re testing new development payloads for other recording programs.”
“YPG’s clear, stable air and extremely dry climate, as well as extensive knowledge of institutional UAS tests, make it an attractive location for this type of work. Also important to the mission is the test site’s robust workload in testing sensors and the ability to control a large portion of the radio frequency (RF) spectrum. YPG has more than 500 permanent radio frequencies and several thousand temporary ones in any given month. “The weather is phenomenal and YPG has a tremendous amount of restricted airspace,” said Reed. “We have at least 330 days of good flying weather every year.”
The long range and large airspace allow testers to easily evaluate things like fuel economy and the ability to smoothly pass control of the vehicle between controls in multiple ground control stations.
“We were able to. The tiger shark was known for its reliability in Southwest Asia, which testers attribute to extensive ratings at YPG.
“We were able to test in a similarly dry, very hot desert environment,” said Reed. “Our electrical and motor systems were really up to date from the tests we ran here.”