Monday, November 29, 2021

Australian engineering company wins contract to supply new engine for pilotless military aircraft

by Kevin Gomez

An Australian engineering company has won a major contract to supply a new engine for a pilotless military aircraft, breaking new ground to overcome some of the limitations of other engines currently used in so-called ‘drones’.

Perth-based Orbital Corporation has been contracted to supply its Heavy Fuel Engine (HFE) – nicknamed internally as ‘the Redback’ by Orbital staff – to American unmanned aircraft systems manufacturer AAI, a Textron company.

The engine will be fitted to a Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS) developed with AAI’s Australian division, Aerosonde, which will see service with the US Navy and Special Operations Command.

The contract, worth up to $4.7 million throughout 2012, is the result of a two-year effort by Orbital to perfect a tiny two-stroke engine that can run reliably on military specified heavy fuels while meeting aggressive fuel economy, weight and noise reduction targets.