The so-called Adaptable UAV would be designed to alternate between rotary wing and fixed wing flight.
Engineers from BAE Systems, together with students from Cranfield University, have revealed a new technology concept – named Adaptable UAVs – which can alternate between the two different flight modes in the same mission. When in rotary wing mode, the UAVs can be launched and recovered from battlefields and docked on a special pole.
According to a video on the company's website, the transition between the two modes is achieved by pivoting one of the vehicle's two propellers from puller to pusher configuration, causing the wing to rotate around a central hub.
The Adaptable UAVs would be a hybrid between fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, and would use adaptive flight control and advanced navigation and guidance software. The aircraft would benefit from the greater speed and range afforded to fixed-wing aircraft, before alternating to rotary-wing mode to hover and achieve vertical take-off and landing.
In the rotary wing mode of flight, the Adaptable UAVs can be easily and safely launched and recovered using a range of vehicles in dangerous environments. The pole system constrains the lateral or sideways movement of the UAV when being launched or recovered, e.g. when recovering a UAV to the aft of a ship or a land vehicle.