Flying silent, seeing more, unmanned Silent Falcon makes debut

August 13, 2012 by Nancy Owano report

( -- Silent Falcon UAS Technologies of Albuquerque, New Mexico earlier this week took the wraps off the solar-powered Silent Falcon. The Silent Falcon is designed to be a man-portable small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) for long-duration surveillance and reconnaissance. It is light enough to be carried and hand launched, while rocket launching is an option. It has a top speed of 112 km/h. and an operational flying altitude from 100 feet (30.5 m) to 20,000 feet (6096 m) and a range of 25 km (15.5 mi).

The company’s motto for this solar electric model, “Flies Silent, Flies Longer and Sees More,” is an accurate explanation of why the Silent is an attractive newcomer. The Silent Falcon’s power comes from thin film photovoltaic panels built into the wings with lithium polymer batteries for storage. Falcon has an endurance of up to 14 hours in the sky, whereas it can fly up to six hours running on battery power at night. The Silent Falcon system, built of lightweight carbon composites, is also billed as very quiet with low thermal signature to reduce detection.

The system was built in collaboration with Bye Aerospace, which provided research and engineering support.

Shown at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) conference in Las Vegas, one of the promotional talking points was its ability to provide superior imagery and data at higher altitudes of lengthy flight endurance missions. The Silent Falcon carries an electro-optical imaging system called FalconVision with night vision capability, a laser pointer, an onboard HD video processor, all inertially stabilized. The system can identify and track targets and perform geo-location and geo-tracking operations.

Another feature is that the Silent Falcon is modular. Three interchangeable wing configurations are provided so that the Silent Falcon can adapt to mission endurance requirements. The company’s products target several markets -- defense, domestic public safety, and private security contractors. Commercial production on the Silent Falcon starts next year.

At the conference in Vegas, Vice Adm. William R. Burke, deputy chief of Naval Operations Warfare Systems for the U.S. Navy, told his audience how the Navy was changing the way it thinks about unmanned systems capabilities. Now, he says, the Navy works to evolve with the speed of technology, instead of with a traditional seven- to 15-year platform timeline.

Lt. Gen. Mary Legere of the U.S. Army said UAS would continue to be essential enablers for the Army but their capabilities and operability must evolve. Legere said she would like to see multi-intelligence payloads for UAS and plug and play, “iPad easy” controls for soldiers who use the systems.

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1 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2012
5 / 5 (6) Aug 13, 2012
He's obviously not watching you very closely. Otherwise he would have notified you that your caps lock key is stuck.
2 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2012
OK here's the perfect plane to search for Big Foot or the Yeti, quite, long range, and good optics. Lets go find us a Big Foot, yeah, LOL
3 / 5 (2) Aug 13, 2012
OK here's the perfect plane to search for Big Foot or the Yeti, quite, long range, and good optics.

Maybe it's not the optics that are the problem.

To quote Mitch Hedberg:
I think Bigfoot is blurry, that's the problem. There's a large out-of-focus monster roaming the countryside.
not rated yet Aug 13, 2012
I've got a bit of a problem with the numbers. If it can fly for 14 hours in the sun and 6 hours at night off the batteries and has a top speed of 112 kph, its range has to be much more than 25 km.
1 / 5 (4) Aug 13, 2012
i agree dschlink, somethings not quite adding up...

i'd like to have one to fly at my local sports field.
1 / 5 (2) Aug 13, 2012
I've got a bit of a problem with the numbers. If it can fly for 14 hours in the sun and 6 hours at night off the batteries and has a top speed of 112 kph, its range has to be much more than 25 km.

What kind of control signal are they using? 25km might be the signal range.
not rated yet Aug 13, 2012
From the specs (which can be downloaded from the second lin k in the article) I gather that it requires a ground control system (so it's not autonomous). That would probably make the 25km the control range.

I like how they euphemistically put "closer look" in parentheses. I think we all know what a "closer look" means on a military type vehicle.

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