Airbus has successfully tested an unmanned jet-propelled demonstrator with the project name Sagitta.
The UAV flew autonomously for around seven minutes over the test site in Overberg, South Africa, on a pre-programmed course. The flying-wing construction demonstrated flight characteristics during the test. This flight marked the completion of the first test phase, which also comprised a series of ground tests, the company said in a statement Tuesday.
The demonstrator is the product of the ‘Open Innovation’ / Sagitta national initiative launched by Airbus in 2010. The project sees Airbus working together with institutes from the technical universities of Munich and Chemnitz, the University of the Federal Armed Forces (Universität der Bundeswehr) in Munich, the Ingolstadt University of Applied Sciences and the German Aerospace Centre DLR to jointly develop advanced technologies for unmanned flight. The project started with a feasibility study of the flying-wing configuration.
Criteria for the design included a high degree of autonomy, variable mission profiles and low levels of perceptibility. To achieve this, the inter-institutional research team adopted approaches from academic and industrial research, developed these further and incorporated them into solutions for industrial application. Airbus facilitated the continuous exchange between experts, doctoral students and developers during the development stage. In addition, the Company provided the industrial facilities required for integrating the technologies in the demonstrator at Airbus Defence and Space’s Military Air Systems Centre in Manching, Germany.