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US Army is looking for possible Shadow drone replacement

For nearly three decades, every aspect of drone technology has seen some improvement, including materials used, sensors to communication hardware and software, and even the batteries that power those computers and sensors. The US Army has also seen the limitations of what it can and cannot do with a drone that has to either operate from a runway or be launched from a rail and caught on a hook. Into this mix of requirements and new possibility flies the Resolute Eagle, made by PAE ISR, complete with an ad hoc network system from Persistent Systems. The US Army is looking at a range of drones for possible Shadow replacement, and Resolute Eagle will have to provide what it takes.

US Army is looking for possible Shadow replacement
Launch of a Shadow drone (Picture source: U.S. Army / Staff Sgt. Jeremy Ganz)

The Resolute Eagle has a VTOL model, which essentially grafts booms with rotors to the drone’s wings, allowing it to take off and land like a quadcopter. The VTOL configuration is listed as having 12 hours of endurance, compared to 18 hours for the purely fixed-wing version, and the booms are detachable, giving some flexibility when forward deployed.

Besides military customers, PAE ISR is targeting the Resolute Eagle at a broad range of law enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security, humanitarian and commercial missions, according to Beach. Its ISR abilities could be used for pipeline and railway inspection, as well as evaluating the area after a natural disaster and looking for people in search and rescue. Key to this is an ability to operate beyond line of sight through satellite communications.

Relying on satellites may be correct for civilian applications going forward, but across the Pentagon people are looking for other ways to retain or set up communications networks on the battlefield in the event that the satellite communication becomes untenable. The solution by the Resolute Eagle comes in the form of Persistent Systems’ MPU5 Wave Relay mobile ad hoc networking (MANET). This MANET is platform agnostic, and could operate not just from the Resolute Eagle drones, but from multiple drones, ground robots, and in systems carried by people on foot. To keep the communication secure, MPU5 radio operates with AES 256-bit Suite B encryption, ensuring that only those with the right decryption tools (or the proper key) can access it.


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