RQ-16 T-Hawk / Tarantula Hawk
The YRQ-16 Tarantula Hawk uses a gasoline powered engine to produce thrust, which was then ducted through an intricate system of blades to maneuver the UAS. Much like the Raven, it uses an autopilot system that allows operators to simply point and click waypoints into software and the vehicle will takeoff, fly the route, and land autonomously.
While time-on-station performance will always favor a fixed-wing air vehicles, small UAVs capable of vertical take off and landing fill a critical need to provide a highly controllable persistent sensor orientation and field of regard for military areas of interest. Small ducted fan systems offer a safe vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) UAV solution with the ability to hover in very close proximity to buildings, which may be very useful in urban combat. Soldier safety was a key driver for pursuing this technical approach in lieu of an open rotor approach.
The USN was responsible for the RQ-16 initial production when in 2008 it purchased 372 for future use in support of combat operations. The T-Hawk was used by Explosive Ordnance Disposal Teams (EOD) in Afghanistan to search congested urban areas for IEDs. Unlike some other models of UAVs, the T-Hawk can take off and land vertically, which makes it useful in areas with obstructions like buildings or mountains where other UAVs cannot operate. The ability to land vertically also allows the operators to land the T-Hawk within 15 feet of their location, limiting their exposure while on patrol.
The T-Hawk’s gasoline engine produces much more noise than a battery operated SUAS. This makes it impractical for covert ISR at low altitudes as the ducted fan and engine noise would alert anyone in the vicinity of its presence, but the vehicle has been very useful in situations where the operators do not care if the enemy has knowledge of the robot’s presence near the target. An example of this would be a roadside bomb which has been discovered and requires EOD to evaluate and disarm it. There were very few elements of surprise associated with a stopped U.S. convoy attempting to disarm an IED. Situations that require very precise video feeds of much greater resolution and detail, free from turbulence or motion, were perfect for the T-Hawk.
|User Service||initially DARPA and Army, then Navy|
|Inventory|| 25 Systems Delivered/90 Systems Planned |
372 purchased by USN 
|Status||POR; Under Evaluation |
|Engine Type||Heavy fuel piston|
|Wingspan||13-in duct diameter|
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