March 23, 2005 Looking for all the world like a flying shark, Schiebel's next-generation Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Camcopter S-100 was shown for the first time at the recent International Defence Expo. The Camcopter S-100 is a medium -range, medium endurance VTOL UAV system designed to provide a unique balance between advanced capabilities and operation in tactical environments. The remarkable potential in both civilian and military applications for unmanned autonomous helicopters was previously detailed in our Yamaha RMAX UAV story, though the Schiebel Camcopter's focus is primarily military.

Sophisticated composite structures and materials allow S-100's speed, endurance and payload capacity to rival that of its fixed-wing counterparts according to Schiebel. The advanced design enables operation from confined areas, without the performance tradeoffs typically associated with helicopters.

The S-100 retains the capability of autonomous flight from the earlier Camcopter 5.1 and its fully-redundant flight control system enables the helicopter to fly a programmed mission from takeoff to landing with no operator intervention. Programming for an autonomous mission is via a simple point-and-click graphical user interface. At any point during an autonomous mission, the operator can manually direct the S-100 to more closely inspect unknown objects or in reaction to opportunity targets.

In both autonomous and manual modes, the aerial vehicle is automatically stabilized via redundant Inertial Navigation Systems (INS). Navigation is accomplished using redundant Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers and the whole system is designed to minimize the need for operator training, and features integrated checklists and numerous fail-safe mechanisms to reduce the risk of damage due to operator error.

Camcopter S-100 has been designed as a platform for a wide variety of payloads, and therefore no standard payload is offered, rather they are integrated according to customer requirements. The S-100 features two payload bays, side hard points and an internal auxiliary electronics/avionics bay. The primary payload bay, located directly beneath the main rotor shaft, is capable of mounting payloads weighing up to 50 kg (100 lbs.). Fixed-mounted daylight and/or infrared cameras provide the operator with situational awareness and orientation. The S-100 fuselage is a carbon-fibre monocoque, which gives a superior strength/weight ratio, providing maximum capacity for a wide range of payload/endurance combinations. In a standard configuration, the S-100 is capable of carrying a 25 kg (55 lbs) payload for up to 6 hours. The S-100 is powered by an aviation-certified rotary engine.

The S-100 is also being developed for maritime applications, where, like its predecessor, it will be capable of landing on helicopter deck-equipped ships without the use of additional landing equipment.

S-100 represents a vast improvement in overall operational capabilities, boasting a larger payload capacity in addition to longer endurance and faster dash speed. The helicopter is capable of carrying a 25 kg payload aloft for up to six hours, and of dashing to a target area at over 100 knots, specifications that rival some fixed-wing platforms without the need for a runway or launch and recovery equipment.

The price of an S-100 Air vehicle alone is US$400,000 and the fuel system price including two air vehicles, the control station, payload, ground equipment, training, and logistics package will cost around US$2 million when production starts late in 2005.

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