The U.S. Air Force (USAF) has awarded a new $48 million contract to Aurora Flight Sciences for the continued development of the Orion Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS).
The Orion is a twin-engine high performance UAS that can stay aloft over 100 hours at a time with payloads in excess of 1,000 pounds.
Development of the Orion started in 2006 and its first flight was in August 2013.
In December 2014, the Orion established the current UAS world endurance record with an 80-hour, 2-minute and 52-second flight.
The Orion Medium-Altitude, Long-Endurance Unmanned Aircraft combines a highly efficient aerodynamic design with lightweight construction and efficient heavy fuel propulsion, enabling over three times the endurance and range of current ISR platforms.
This game-changing persistence enables a single aircraft to perform a continuous five day mission while carrying over 1,000 lbs of mission payloads, enabling a drastically extend area of coverage.
A single Orion UAS can perform two days of persistent surveillance when operating from bases over 3,000 miles away from the target of interest.
Orion Benefits Include:
- Reduces number of bases needed for worldwide ops
- Reduces forward footprint minimizing personnel in harm’s way
- Provides flexibility even when infrastructure or airfields are unavailable
- Previously unreachable areas of vast oceans are now reachable
- Medium-Altitude Aircraft
- 15,000-30,000 feet altitude
- 120+ hour endurance
- Up to 2800 lbs payload
The new contract funds the development of a certified version of Orion that will be suitable for deployment anywhere in the world.
The work will be performed in Columbus, Mississippi, and Manassas, Virginia.
Aurora Flight Sciences, which is a Boeing Company, is an innovative technology company which strives to create smarter aircraft through the development of versatile and intuitive autonomous systems.
Operating at the intersection of technology and robotic aviation, Aurora leverages the power of autonomy to make manned and unmanned flight safer and more efficient.