The US Air Force Research Laboratory is funding advanced technologies for Lockheed Martin’s Desert Hawk Extended Endurance and Range (DH EER) unmanned air vehicle, including upgrades that will allow maritime operations.
AFRL’s Advanced Power Technology Office awarded Lockheed the 1 August contract, which will focus on a technology demonstration but also include some development in the UAV’s propulsion system, power management system, and airframe structure, an AFRL spokeswoman tells FlightGlobal.
The contract will prepare the current DH ERR, a hand-launched, 8kg (18lb) UAV with a 10h endurnace, for an operational assessment. Development will continue through next May, followed by integration efforts and a final demonstration scheduled for November 2018.
Lockheed will make DH ERR fully waterproof and buoyant for water landing and retrieval, allowing employment in maritime environments, a Lockheed spokeswoman says.
The UAV could be used for several missions, including strike or intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, though the current demonstration UAV will be configured with an electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) gimbal camera, according to the USAF.