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15 December 2021

Transwing Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) UAS, US

The Transwing vertical take-off and landing UAS is designed to meet the maritime resupply requirements of the US Navy.
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The Transwing vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) is manufactured by PteroDynamics, a venture-backed unmanned aircraft manufacturer based in the US. It features a patented VTOL design, offering greater agility and payload capacity as well as higher endurance.

The <a href=”https://www.naval-technology.com/news/kbr-secures-new-aircrew-services-contract-from-navair/”>Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division</a> (NAWCAD) signed a contract with PteroDynamics for three VTOL prototypes under the Blue Water Maritime Logistics UAS (BWUAS) programme in August 2021. The programme aims to develop an autonomous aircraft to meet the logistics demands of the US Navy.
<h2>Transwing VTOL development details</h2>
The Military Sealift Command and Fleet Forces Command identified the requirement to develop autonomous cargo delivery capability for the US Navy in 2018. PteroDynamics received its first US patent for the Transwing design in April 2019, while the second and third patents were granted for the Transwing UAS in February 2020 and April 2021, respectively.

NAWCAD acquired a UAS prototype in October 2020 for the evaluation of long-range ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore cargo delivery capabilities. The tests were conducted at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River. NAWCAD engineers, testers and military test pilots evaluated the commercial vehicle and tailored it to meet the requirements of the navy. The UAS programme was named Blue Water Maritime Logistics UAS.

The Naval Air Force Atlantic conducted a test to demonstrate the cargo transport capability of a prototype in February 2021. The test evaluated its capability to typically operate in heavy winds over open water as well as land on pitching vessels at sea. The UAS successfully transported lightweight logistics equipment from the Mid Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC) to the USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78).

In March 2021, the MARMC evaluated the capabilities of the UAS to transport parts for repairs to the forward-deployed ships. The tests were conducted in collaboration with the USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) Beach Detachment and the Blue Water team.
<h2>Transwing VTOL design and features</h2>
Transwing UAS’ clean aerodynamic shape enables it to fly at a higher speed and for longer ranges than its competitors. Its patented VTOL design enables transition between multirotor and fixed-wing configurations. It flies in fixed-wing configuration during flight, with its wings folded after take-off. The transition from rotorcraft to fixed-wing mode can take place almost immediately after take-off. The cruise flight efficiency of the fixed-wing aircraft is about five times that of the VTOL configuration.

The transverse folding wing design helps to achieve higher efficiency for vertical lift and a longer horizontal flight, which increases the range of the UAS. It can also increase the aircraft’s overall endurance and payload carrying capabilities.

The length of the <a href=”https://www.naval-technology.com/projects/high-eye-hef-32-unmanned-aerial-system/”>VTOL unmanned aircraft</a> is approximately 6.2m (20.4ft.) while the wingspan is 11.6m (38ft). The landing area required for the VTOL aircraft is almost one-third of that needed by similar UASs with the same wingspan.

The time spent on take-off or landing is minimal, and the user can also opt for high-aspect wings that increase the in-flight time. An optional higher wing loading can further increase the cruise speeds.
<h2>Payload carrying capabilities</h2>
The UAS has internal and external cargo-carrying capacities as well as an automatic surveillance-broadcast identification system. The payload carrying capacity of the aircraft is about 20% higher than similar unmanned aircraft in its class.
<h2>Transwing UAS propulsion</h2>
The Transwing UAS is equipped with a dual-fuel <a href=”https://www.naval-technology.com/contractors/propulsion/”>propulsion</a> system, which can be powered by electricity and JP-5 fuel. The propulsors are rigidly attached to the wing, and the propulsion system eliminates drag on the wings during take-off, cruise and landing.

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