PERTH, Australia, May 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Orbital is pleased to announce that it has been contracted to supply heavy fuel engines for use in AAI Unmanned Aircraft Systems' (AAI) Aerosonde® Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS). AAI Unmanned Aircraft Systems, an operating unit of Textron Systems, a Textron Inc. company, recently won significant military contracts from the U.S. Navy and Special Operations Command to provide SUAS fee-for-service operations utilising the newest configuration of its Aerosonde SUAS.
Orbital is contracted to supply engines up to a value of approximately $4.7 million throughout 2012.
This new engine and system uses Orbital's FlexDI ™ Engine Management system to enable spark ignition operation of heavy fuels such as JP5 (naval operations) and JP8 (land based operations) satisfying a US Department of Defence initiative to eliminate gasoline fuels for safety and logistic reasons – the "one fuel" policy.
The small but powerful engine package has been designed to be light weight, with size, weight and fuel efficiency being key factors to provide the required range and payload capability for this aircraft. One key advantage of the Orbital technology is extended range; the improved fuel efficiency can increase the range on a typical mission by 40% over current technology, or can allow AAI to increase the payload.Orbital's FlexDI ™ technology has been proven in more than 650,000 engine applications in the recreation, marine, motorcycle consumer markets. Mr Terry Stinson, CEO and Managing Director of Orbital comments: "New ground had to be broken with AAI to meet their aggressive SUAS engine requirements, and we have been able to successfully develop and supply the demonstration engines from our Perth facility. This success now leads to production supply of engine systems. This is good example of Australian innovation, and demonstrates Orbital's engineering and product development capabilities." "The small unmanned aerial systems market is an emerging market for Orbital and we look forward to realising this potential," added Mr Stinson.