Boeing’s unmanned Little Bird H-6U takes flight
August 8, 2012 By Carey Fredericks
Aug. 8, 2012, Chicago, Il. - Boeing has reported that its Unmanned Little Bird H-6U - a variant of the MD-500 series - successfully performed 14 autonomous takeoffs and landings from a ship during flight tests in July.
For the tests, conducted from a private ship off the coast of Florida, Boeing integrated a commercial-off-the-shelf takeoff-and-landing system with Unmanned Little Bird's automated flight control system. Two safety pilots were aboard the optionally piloted aircraft to maintain situational awareness and take control of the aircraft if it had been needed. It accumulated 20 flight hours with 100 percent availability.
"Unmanned Little Bird performed flawlessly, proving not only its reliability as a mature platform but its adaptability for various missions and continued innovation," said Debbie Rub, Boeing vice president and general manager of Missiles and Unmanned Airborne Systems. "By successfully demonstrating this maritime capability, we are able to provide warfighters with a critical unmanned solution to meet their missions."
Introduced in 2004, Unmanned Little Bird benefits from the MD-500's legacy of 14 million flight hours over five decades, demonstrating numerous capabilities on a platform that Boeing says is affordable to own, operate and maintain.
The aircraft's missions include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; precision cargo resupply; weapons delivery; and manned-unmanned teaming. In addition, Unmanned Little Bird continues to be used as a technology demonstrator, prototyping new capabilities for multiple platforms. U
Boeing is spotlighting Unmanned Little Bird and other unmanned systems through Aug. 9 at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) Unmanned Systems North America 2012 conference and exhibition in Las Vegas.