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BAE Systems unveils the latest generation of autonomous air vehicles

30 Mar 2006

BAE Systems engineers and technologists in the UK and Australia have developed new, unmanned, fully autonomous air vehicles that are set to push the boundaries of autonomous flight and mission management.

BAE Systems has developed three prototype UAV concept demonstrators Corax, Raven and HERTI, the latest generation of autonomous systems. The company implemented novel rapid engineering processes to achieve paper to flight in only months, not years. This was greatly assisted by the high level of co-operation between the UK and Australian arms of the business

BAE Systems Australia was an integral part of the rapid prototyping project team during the entire project and led the development of the ground control station and airborne Vehicle Management System.

Brad Yelland, capability manager for Integrated Autonomous Systems in Melbourne, Victoria said: The ground control station used to fly all three UAV variants is based on BAE Systems Australias Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Management System, or IMS, which we are developing for Air 7000 and other future Australian Autonomous Systems programs.

IMS offers an open architecture that allows a wide range of interoperable management software applications to be easily combined, said Brad.

The airborne Vehicle Management System (VMS) which provides the autonomous capability to the UAVs, is based on the VMS currently flown in the Kingfisher UAV, another UAV designed and developed by BAE Systems Australia.

The Corax and Raven prototypes have been built to investigate the stability, control and performance of the design, which is said to maximise all-round survivability. Modularity, re-use and commonality were significant aspects of the design approach. According to Jane's International Defence Review, work on these vehicles "indicated a new direction in [unmanned] air vehicles for the UK's armed forces".

The Utility UAV Demonstrator, HERTI, was flown on a fully-autonomous mission from -Cambletown Airport, Scotland on 18 August 2005, becoming the first UAV to be flown fully autonomously in UK airspace, with full UK CAA approval and without special segregation.
BAE Systems Australia will continue to support the UK activities.

BAE Systems Australia has invested heavily in R&D for the past seven years. Its 40 full time staff have generated in-house expertise in UAV platform and control operations. They have developed a unique Australian industry capability whose importance is set to grow in the years to come, in line with the rapidly expanding UAV market.


BAE Systems is the premier transatlantic defence and aerospace company delivering a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, information technology solutions and customer support services. With more than 100,000 employees worldwide, BAE Systems sales exceeded GB 15.4 billion (US$28 billion) in 2005.

For further information, please contact:

Shelley Mearns, BAE Systems Australia
Tel: +61 8 8480 7211
Mob: +61 (0) 402 890 760

Jo-Anne Marshall, BAE Systems Australia
Tel: +61 8 8480 7842

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