Its mission focus is targeted towards communications relay; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); laser designation; and border security. The Tactical Unmanned Aircraft (TUAS) is the developed and production-ready version of the 2012 Shadow M2 drone.
“Since first announcing the Shadow M2, we’ve made significant improvements and enhancements to the system—so much in fact, that there are many differences between the two platforms,” says Bill Irby, Unmanned Systems Senior Vice President & General Manager.
Those improvements include increased flexibility, combat capability, enhanced command-and-control, and beyond line-of-sight satellite communications (SATCOM).
If users receive the optional SATCOM package, the Nightwarden’s systems acquire capabilities known to the much larger Group IV Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) platforms. Communication relay, sense-and-avoid equipment, signal or communication intelligence, and electronic attack are available due to the open architecture and dual-payload bay.
The Nightwarden can achieve a top speed of 90 knots (103 mph) and has an endurance capacity of up to 15 hours. Users can add a maximum payload of 130 pounds to the system without compromising functionality.
Texron System’s upgraded TUAS platform also boasts increased propulsion, greater electrical output, and a water-cooled rotary engine. With over 400 hours of flight tests, the Nightwarden demonstrated runway-independence by successfully landing on unimproved terrain, enhanced landing gear, remote taxi, and an air vehicle parachute for emergency situations.
Watch the Nightwarden’s introduction in the video below.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense