Vector electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) reconnaissance UAV was developed by Quantum-Systems and ESG Defence + Public Security for military and security missions.
The UAV was unveiled in June 2019 within the framework of the forum ‘Unmanned Systems’ of the German Society for Defence Technology (Studiengesellschaft DWT).
The UAV is suitable for a range of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) applications such as battlefield surveillance, border patrol, and search and rescue.
Other mission capabilities of the unmanned aircraft include convoy protection, criminal pursuit, traffic investigation, as well as protection of harbours, facilities, and assets.
Vector eVTOL UAV design and features
Vector eVTOL UAV comprises an electrically operated unmanned aerial vehicle, ground control station, autopilot, and a data link. The entire system can be transported by a single person in either an IP67-certified transport case or an all-terrain backpack.
Weighing less than 6kg, the UAV features a fixed-wing design with a 2.8m wingspan. It has a honeycomb sandwich airframe, which is reinforced with glass and Kevlar fibre to provide durability and high strength in adverse weather conditions.
Each main wing is installed with a two-blade highly efficient hover propeller, while the tail section features a two-blade cruise propeller. The wings also feature actuators with built-in CAN bus control to provide advanced flight control.
A sophisticated cooling system is installed beneath the fuselage for data link and electronics. The shock-absorbing landing gear with two legs is designed to ensure a smooth aircraft landing.
The flexible design of the UAV allows it to switch to a conventional copter, which is known as Scorpion configuration, by removing the wings and attaching a set of copter arms.
The Vector eVTOL UAV is outfitted with a modular electro-optical / infrared (EO/IR) gimbal below the front section of the fuselage. The payload is integrated with high-value sensors and advanced optics to provide relevant intelligence.
The UAV is compatible with two payload configurations, namely an EO/IR system with laser illuminator, an infrared laser rangefinder and a 10× optical zoom camera for capturing imagery and video, and a 21MP Sony UMC10 camera for tactical mapping sensor package.
The 10× optical zoom camera is capable of producing 720p EO video and 480p IR video.
The aerial vehicle carries an autopilot developed by Quantum-Systems for autonomously executing a predefined flight path.
A water and dust-resistant airspeed indicator is attached on top of the fuselage to ensure safe operation of the UAV within its speed limits.
The fuselage also carries four 100Wh UN 38.3 certified heated lithium-ion batteries to support missions under cold temperatures.
Command and control
A handheld unit on the ground control station (GCS) or sector antennae are used to provide command and control (C2) to the UAV through a military-encrypted mesh IP link.
Mission planning and execution can be performed by a single person using QBase 3D C2 mission software, which automatically produces flight paths and records the mission data on the GCS. The software also allows the operator to modify the mission plan before the flight, either during or after the mission.
The data link is integrated into the QBase 3D software and transmits imagery and video streams captured by the on-board payloads to the handheld ground control unit. It enables data transmission at a rate of 10Mbps up to a range of 15km. The use of sector antennae increases the command and control range to 25km.
The data is encrypted with a 128b/256b AES standard to ensure safety.
Vector eVTOL UAV performance
The Vector eVTOL reconnaissance UAV can attain cruise speeds of up to 25m/s and is capable of withstanding wind speeds of 12m/s.
It offers a maximum flight time of two hours and can operate in temperatures ranging between -20°C and 45°C.