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RQ-16 T-Hawk UAV
The RQ-16 T-Hawk is a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) Micro UAV. Developed by Honeywell, the T-Hawk is operated by the U.S. Army as a reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition drone. Nicknamed the "Flying Beer Keg," the T-Hawk can be carried in a backpack and deployed and operated by one person. Its wiry legs and round body give it a distinctive appearance compared to aircraft-inspired UAVs. RQ-16 T-Hawk fills a role in hover and stare capabilities otherwise unavailable to the Army.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV): Honeywell RQ-16 T-Hawk Development
The RQ-16 T-Hawk was a result of the Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) program started by DARPA, originating from the Organic Air Vehicle (OAV) program. Honeywell Defense and Space Electronic Systems received a $40 million contact for a technology demonstration project in 2003. This project was moved to the U.S. Army Future Combat System (FCS) program for the purpose of developing a platoon-level drone.
The prototype of the T-Hawk made its first tethered flight in January 2005. Its first free flight took place in June. In May 2006, Honeywell received a $61 million contract to create an advanced MAV with greater endurance.
The T-Hawk uses a ducted fan gasoline-powered engine to achieve vertical takeoff and landing. The T-Hawk weighs less than 20 pounds, can fly for 40 minutes, and operate within a radius of approximately 6 nautical miles. Forward flight can be as fast as 70 knots, but control software limits its operational speed to 50 knots.
The onboard sensor package consists of one forward and one downward-looking daylight or infrared camera. The T-Hawk flies autonomously, but soldiers can update routes and targets as necessary. However, its flight characteristics have problems for the military, including producing too much noise.
The purpose of the MAV is to look ahead of where Army ground forces are operating, allowing mounted or dismounted soldiers to evaluate potential threats from a safe distance. The MAV can hover as well, making it useful for finding IEDs and other roadside hazards in places like Iraq. In 2007 the U.S. Navy contracted with Honeywell for 20 gasoline-engine MAVs (G-MAVs) for deployment in Iraq with EOD units.
Performance in Iraq exceeded expectations, and in January 2008 the Navy ordered 372 MAVs, designating the craft the RQ-16A T-Hawk. The name comes from "Tarantula hawk," a species of wasp. The "R" stands for reconnaissance, and "Q" is the designation for a UAV. The T-Hawk is deployed as a system, with two UAVs and one ground station comprising one system.
The total system weight is less than 51 pounds, including two air vehicles, control equipment, and ground support equipment. The system can be man-carried in two customized MOLLE packs.
RQ-16 T-Hawk Operational History
The U.S. Navy first deployed the RQ-16 in Iraq in 2007. The Army operates the T-Hawk as a Class I drone for use in rolling terrain or urban environments. The National Guard brought the T-Hawk to Iraq in 2008.
The T-Hawk has also attracted attention for civilian use. The Miami-Dade police department bought two T-Hawks from Honeywell, becoming the first local police force in the U.S. to operate UAVs in an urban setting.
Characteristics of the RQ-16 T-Hawk
Recommended Books about the RQ-16 T-Hawk and UAVs
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