Apr 03 2014
Bat, a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed for medium altitude, multi-mission work, developed by Northrop Grumman Corp. of Redondo Beach, Calif., recently got an added mission when the company demonstrated an internal miniature electronic attack payload for the UAV.
The demonstration was carried out during the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) event held at China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station in Ridgecrest, Calif. The Bat demonstration involved the jamming of radars, and the Bat flew a number of missions with manned fixed-wing aircraft and other unmanned platforms.
George Vardoulakis, the company’s vice president of medium-range tactical systems, says, “Bat continues to demonstrate capabilities that can normally only be achieved by larger, more expensive unmanned aircraft.”
The Bat can be configured with differently sized fuel tanks and sensor payloads to meet varied missions — intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), tactical, communications relay, or target acquisition. Its design allows payloads to be changed quickly for rapid, expeditionary, deployment.
The UAV has both 10-foot and 12-foot wingspan variants, and Northrop Grumman notes it has a 20-foot wingspan design under development. Because of its blended body design, the Bat is able to carry a payload volume of 3.2 cubic feet and up to 30 pounds.
An additional advantage to the Bat is it is launched from a pneumatic-hydraulic rail system so it doesn’t need a runway, meaning it can be launched from land or at sea.
Bat incorporates both a Hirth electronic fuel injection engine and a heavy fuel variant, which runs on a JP-8 variant, the most widely used fuel variant in the U.S. military. It has a 15 hour flight duration and a ceiling of 15,000 feet and can travel up to 70 mph.
Northrop Grumman reports Bat has been deployed to Afghanistan with the U.S. Special Operations Command for ISR work, as well as to perform IED detection for troops.
About the author: Alan M. Petrillo is a Tucson, Ariz., journalist who writes for national and regional magazines and newspapers. He’s also the author of the mystery, Full Moon, books on historical military small arms, and the nonfiction work, Ice Hockey in the Desert.