NAVMAR and UAVT plan to demonstrate turboprop engine for drones

April 24, 2017  - By

Navmar Applied Sciences Corp. (NASC) and UAV Turbines Inc. (UAVT) have announced plans for a joint flight demonstration of NASC’s TigerShark aircraft with a UAVT micro-turboprop propulsion system.

First flights are scheduled before the end of the year. This will mark the first time that a Group 3 UAV (medium endurance and size) is powered by a micro-turboprop engine with a new recuperator design that significantly increases engine efficiency, the companies said.

CAD Representation of the UAVT UTP50R Turbobrop Propulsion system to be demonstrated in flight in the NASC TigerShark XP. (Credit: UAV Turbines, Inc.)

CAD Representation of the UAVT UTP50R Turbobrop Propulsion system to be demonstrated in flight in the NASC TigerShark XP. (Credit: UAV Turbines Inc.)

“We are delighted to partner with one of the leading UAV aircraft system developers and be able to access their expertise on these first flights of our proprietary micro-turboprop propulsion technology,” said UAVT President Kirk Warshaw. “The opportunity to work with NASC’s TigerShark speeds development significantly, and we look forward to the time when the technology itself becomes the standard propulsion system for Group 3 and 4 UAVs.”

“Where many major companies have tried and failed, we were pleasantly surprised at the significant engineering milestones achieved by the UAVT team, technical coordination between our teams and the ability to monitor UAVT’s prototypes in operation during the past year were instrumental in giving us confidence to participate in the flight demonstration program using the TigerShark aircraft,” said NASC president Tom Fenerty. “This first step is a big one, but as micro-turbine technology becomes the standard for UAVs, the missions will change and the support provided to our warfighters will be greatly enhanced.”

“The benefits of turbines were clear to the air transport industry when turbojets first came into service in 1958, and they quickly dominated the industry,” Warshaw said. “The same advantages of high reliability, long life, smooth quiet operation, and the use of safe heavy JP fuel have long made turbine propulsion desirable for UAVs, although no one until now has produced a viable system. Development of turboprops for UAVs presented extreme challenges due to the high temperatures and physical forces involved in obtaining sufficient power from very small systems. UAVT has spent seventeen years and tens of millions of dollars to overcome these challenges and achieve reliable solutions.”

Both Navmar Applied Sciences Corporation and UAV Turbines Inc. are privately held. This joint project is funded by NASC and UAVT outside of any government program or agency affiliation.