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How Did They Think of That? - RAeS Heathrow Lecture

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How Did They Think of That? - RAeS Heathrow Lecture

Old 9th Jan 2007, 11:10
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Exclamation How Did They Think of That? - RAeS Heathrow Lecture

11th January

'How Did They Think of That?'

Including BAE SYSTEMS UAV developments

Chris Clarkson
(Technical Director, BAE SYSTEMS - Air Systems)

Chris will concentrate on developments that have occurred during his career and contrast today's pioneering culture with that of previous generations. He will also consider innovation in Aerospace, especially aerodynamics, and explore whether an innovative culture/approach is still alive and well in the modern day aerospace industry.
Chris will look at inventiveness in the concept design phase of projects, and examine originality in service on current platforms and our ability to be ground-breaking on current development prgrammes. BAE SYSTEMS UAV developments will be used as an example of continued innovation in aerospace design.

Lecture starts at 18:15 in British Airways theatre, Waterside, Harmondsworth.
For details, to arrange entry, etc., contact the Branch Secretary, Adrian Constable on
0208 738 7299 or e-mail Adrian Constable :- [email protected]
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Old 19th Jan 2007, 12:03
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Dr Clarkson began with some of the previous innovations from BAE Systems. When an undercarriage is not being used, it is dead weight. Various designers have looked at doing away with an undercarriage for this reason. Early trials in 1945 involved landing a De Haviland Vampire wheels up, on an aircraft carrier with a rubber deck ! This was done by Captain Eric "Winkle" Brown, CBE, DSC, AFC, FRAeS, RN a Royal Navy officer and test pilot who has flown more types of aircraft than anyone else in history. He is also the Fleet Air Arm's most decorated pilot. During the 1980's the Skyhook was trialled using a Harrier VSTOL fighter aircraft. The idea being that the aircraft could be deployed from a Frigate and the lack of undercarriage would increase payload/range. The Skyhook was a stabilised crane on the side of the ship. The idea never went ahead for various reasons but worked well in trials. Sadly development of the Sea Harrier has now stopped but continues with land based variants. The F-35 JSF or 'Joint Strike Fighter' is due to replace the Harrier, albeit at enourmous cost. It incorporates stealthy design and is supersonic unlike the Harrier. By comparison the Harrier is simple and reliable, and a lot cheaper.
Dr Clarkson then moved onto the main part of the lecture which was BAE's reseach into UAV's (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles). The semi-autonomous 'Kestrel', designed with a blended-wing body made of advanced low-cost composites. In March 2003, the Kestrel became the first jet-powered UAV to fly in the UK. There were difficulties controlling the Kestrel so the design team looked to exploring fully autonomous flight. The next vehicle, the Raven, a more agile and stealthy machine was tested in secret in Australia.

BAE then turned to producing the HERTI (High Endurance Rapid Technology Insertion), It can navigate itself without the need of a human controlling it through a joy stick. The HERTI is also a fully autonomous all-composite UAV. It has a 12 metre wingspan and has been adapted from a Polish motor-glider airframe, powered by a Rotax 914 engine and equipped with a sensor turret containing two fixed wide angle cameras and one steerable camera for a narrow field of view. The HERTI can fly for more than 24 hours at up to 20,000 feet. One of the problems with the human operation of searching can be the boredom factor i.e. searching miles and miles of sea. This is no problem for HERTI as it has a mind of it's own. If it sees something of interest it will take a high resolution photo of it. On trials it has picked out a floating lobster pot buoy that could well have been a human head. A human observer may well have missed it. Computers and sensing systems are good at repetitive tasks that humans often find tedious. On trials in Australia HERTI decided that a certain situation would be of interest so it took a photo. It was of some cattle using the shadow of a barn to stay cool. It could well have been a group of terrorists. BAE Systems are keen to market HERTI for civilian use as well as military. It is affordable and effective. If your coutry has trouble with terrorists or insurgents, HERTI could well spot them and bring you back a photo. As yet ,unlike the American Predator, which is remotely controlled, HERTI does not have an on board offensive weapons system, but for sniffing out trouble, HERTI could be the affordable option.

The stealthy jet-powered Taranis is the next stage of development. It will utilise more than ten years of research into UAV's and their accompanying systems.

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Old 19th Jan 2007, 14:06
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As I recall, the flight trials associated with Skyhook consisted of hovering a Harrier beneath the jib of a crane, and demonstrating that it was possible to maintain a spot on the wing centre-section within a 10ft cube of sky - the theoretical 'capture window' for the hook. There was never any hardware to connect the crane to the aircraft, much less recover or launch it.
Perhaps a bit of a stretch, then, to say that it worked well in trials, not that it wasn't a good idea. The person who thought of it was Dunsfold TP Heinz Frick.
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