June 12, 2008 UK based marine aircraft developer Warrior (Aero-Marine) has commenced flying its GULL 36 amphibious UAV over the English Channel. Demonstrating the company's wave-piercing stepless hull, the 4-meter wide craft is designed to cleave through choppy water, handle large waves and overcome strong winds and high tow.
“Both the hull and configuration contribute to the GULL working effectively in common sea conditions. The wave-piercing ability enables useful taxi speeds for surface operations and the GULL uses wave profiles to its advantage for take-off,” says Warrior CEO James Labouchere.
The amphibious capabilities of the GULL 36 also allow it to conduct surface work at high speed and give it an enhanced surveillance capacity, range and efficiency while reducing costs according to Warrior. Its applications include tracking and observation of surface and subsuface targets; and the insertion and extraction of smaller unmanned vessels.
The versatility of the craft's combined air and surface functionality mean it can handle operations that traditionally require a number of vessels with a sophisticated communications network and undertake work that neither VTOL or ramp-launched systems can tackle.
The GULL uses a towed-sled Launch and Recovery System named SledLARS, which can be cast off and retrieved from a parent vessel at high speed and on any point of wind. The SledLARS sysem can be launched from the beam or stern of a vessel, and automatically releases and recovers seaplane UAVs. This set-up also enables the UAV to work in conjunction with ships without taking up valuable space and resources on deck or interfering with the operation of other aircraft.
Warrior is developing the GULL and other platforms such as the manned Centaur amphibious flying boat for open market licensing or partnering with system providers in both commercial and defence applications.
Images courtesy of Warrior.