Aerosonde UAV Takes Off from Independence-class LCS

Aerosonde UAV Takes Off from Independence-class LCS

A contract was awarded to Textron by the NAVAIR for Aerosonde UAVs in 2023. The UAVs will be used on one Freedom-class and two Independence-class LCS. The UAVs boarding the USS Savannah mark the fifth warship class and the seventh ship.

Aerosonde UAVs will be used on the LCS of the U.S. Navy to boost maritime security and intelligence capabilities. The UAV can be fitted with electro-optical systems, electronic warfare systems and synthetic aperture radars.

The UAV features two configurations for different platform requirements. The first one is a catapult-launched fixed-wing configuration recovered by a net system. The second one is a VTOL with four electrically-driven propellers for confined launch sections.

As expected, VTOL configuration has drawbacks such as reduced payload and endurance. The endurance is reduced to eight hours from 14+ hours of the fixed-wing configuration.

Using UAVs with long endurance on warships provides a remote sensor, which can be helpful in littorals. For example, where a ship’s optical capabilities are limited to the horizon, the UAVs can conduct observation at longer ranges with broader coverage. This can be especially useful against threats like small boats, which are hard to detect with the ship.

Large hangar and helipad of Independence-class LCS can potentially host multiple UAVs fitted for different missions.