HV-911 Eagle Eye VTOL Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VUAV)
The Bell Eagle Eye HV-911 has the appearance of a conventional aircraft with tilt rotors at the end of each wing that allow it to maneuver up or down and hover. Bell Helicopter Textron Incorporation (BHTI) became involved with the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) program by taking the wind tunnel V-22 model, using off the shelf helicopter parts, i.e., engine, drive shafts, gear boxes, etc. and built the Eagle Eye tilt rotor UAV.
The Eagle Eye has a wing span of 15.2 ft, is 17.9 ft in length, is 5.7 ft high, and weighs around 2,000 pounds (depending on payload). The first flight test (hover only) were conducted at BHTI facility in Dallas, Texas during the winter/spring of 1992.
After successful hover flight tests, the government and contractor teams moved to Yuma Proving Grounds (YPG) for flight test during the third quarter of 1993. The flight tests were very successful and the Eagle Eye flew in helicopter mode, converted through the transition mode to aircraft mode. 35 flights were conducted with a total flight time of 15 hours. Average flight hour per sortie was .43 hrs/flt. Maximum airspeed attained was 159 knots at an operating altitude of 1,550 feet above Mean Sea Level (MSL).
The government had no further Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) requirements and concluded all VTOL demonstration/development contract actions. BHTI continued to develop the Eagle Eye with in house R&D dollars.
In the spring of 1998 the government once again wanted a demonstration of VTOL air vehicle capabilities and contracted BHTI to demonstrate the flying qualities and performance characteristics of the Eagle Eye. This became a two Phase program. Phase I was a land based flight demonstration and Phase II will be sea based flight demonstration. Phase I was accomplished in April 1998. The aircraft has flown more than 43 times, exceeding 55.5 flight hours and achieving airspeed of more than 200 knots, with an altitude of 14,600 feet during the demonstration at Yuma Proving Ground.
Phase II of the program is scheduled for the last quarter of FY99 and will be conducted aboard a small Naval combatant.
In February 2003, Bell Helicopter, Textron Inc., was awarded a contract to commence concept and preliminary design work for its Eagle Eye tiltrotor, Veritical Takeoff and Landing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VUAV) for us in the Coast Gaurd Integrated Deep Water System. The VUAV is a short-range, low maintenance shipboard deployable unmanned aircraft. The VUAV will allow the Coast Guard to extend the surveillance, classification and identification capability of its major cutters through its speed, range, and endurance and at a lower cost. This asset will be used for maritime homeland security, search and rescue missions, enforcement of laws and treaties including illegal drug interdiction, marine environmental protection, and military preparedness. The Eagle Eye will be an interoperable asset integrated with supporting command, control, computers, communication, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) technology.
The quantity of VUAVs will be a smaller component of the Deepwater system to reflect a more efficient use of VUAVs per operational flight decks. The VUAV will receive Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive Detection and Defense (CBR D&D) capabilities that will allow for an unmanned standoff detection and monitoring capability. The VUAV will receive an air-to-air and air-to-surface multimode radar that will improve the Common Operational Picture/MDA to a range of 100NM from the flight deck-equipped cutter.
According to the Coast Guard, evolving technological developments and the corresponding amount of funding provided in fiscal year 2006 have delayed the delivery of the Vertical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle [VUAV] by 6 years-from 2007 to 2013. As a result, the Coast Guard adjusted the VUAV development plan. The fiscal year 2008 DHS congressional budget justification indicated that the Coast Guard did not plan to request funding for the VUAV through fiscal year 2012. Coast Guard originally intended on matching the NSC and VUAV delivery dates so that the VUAV could be launched from the NSC to provide surveillance capabilities beyond the cutter's visual range or sensors. However, with the delay in the VUAV's development schedule, it no longer aligns with the NSC's initial deployment schedule.
In 2007 Coast Guard officials stated that the VUAV will not be integrated with the NSC before fiscal year 2013, 6 years later than planned. Coast Guard officials stated that they were discussing how to address the operational impacts of having the NSC operate without the VUAV. In addition, Coast Guard officials explained that since the time of the original contract award, the Department of Defense has progressed in developing a different unmanned aerial vehicle - the Fire Scout - that Coast Guard officials said is more closely aligned with Coast Guard needs. Coast Guard has issued a contract to an independent third party to compare the capabilities of its planned VUAV to the Fire Scout.
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