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AAI's Shadow Tactical UAS Flies 100,000th Mission

Among current upgrades is a new lithium battery designed to provide power in the event of generator failure, giving the aircraft more than an hour and a half of additional flight time to land safely on base without necessitating an emergency parachute recovery.
by Staff Writers
Hunt Valley MD (SPX) Nov 04, 2009
AAI Corporation has announced that its Shadow Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems (TUAS) have completed 100,000 missions. With 113 systems ordered and 87 delivered, Shadow systems are deployed with the U.S. Army, Army National Guard, Army Special Forces and Marine Corps.

These systems have amassed more than 445,000 flight hours, the majority of which have been in support of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ongoing system upgrades have been critical to enhancing the system's performance and reliability, enabling customers to evolve and expand mission profiles.

While initially utilized as a day/night reconnaissance platform, AAI is now adding the capability to acquire and designate a target to its Shadow TUAS. In addition, deployed Shadow aircraft also are being equipped with a Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System, or SINCGARS, communications relay.

"The Shadow aircraft's mission set continues to expand through our ongoing enhancement activities," says Vice President of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Steven Reid.

"We are fortunate to have several touch points with our users, from focus groups to direct feedback received by our field service representatives who work alongside deployed Shadow units. This valuable feedback keeps us connected to our customers' ever-changing mission needs so we can deliver system upgrades that meet those needs or anticipate new ones."

Among current upgrades is a new lithium battery designed to provide power in the event of generator failure, giving the aircraft more than an hour and a half of additional flight time to land safely on base without necessitating an emergency parachute recovery.

AAI also is integrating a new electronic fuel injection engine and a new fuel delivery system, which together are expected to bolster system reliability. The new battery, electronic fuel injection engine and fuel delivery system are expected to be fielded starting in late 2009.

AAI's interoperable ground control technologies also are growing in maturity to deliver a wider range of user capabilities. The company's new Universal Ground Control Station, or UGCS, builds on the successful One System Ground Control Station with greater operational flexibility and scalability, as well as enhanced features for command and control, joint services interoperability, information exchange and user ergonomics.

"The Shadow system of today is not the Shadow system of six years ago, when it was first deployed into combat operations," says Reid.

"Its capabilities, reliability and user friendliness have grown exponentially. What won't change is the teamwork AAI employees display to keep these valuable assets in the field with more than 95 percent availability, our commitment to developing the most robust system possible, and our responsiveness to existing and future user needs."

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