Known by everyone as drones, the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) have become an increasingly important presence in military and civilian activities, as well as in scientific and economic activities. Without their existence the possibility of some complex aerial missions would be rather difficult or impossible. They are being used to perform a broad spectrum of tasks that can’t be performed using a large aircraft or humans without consequences. Briefly, in the civilian sector, UAS could be used to capture aerial photography, or employed for tasks as diverse as air quality assessment, crop spraying in agriculture, wildlife tracking, fire monitoring, etc. On the other side, in the military sector, UAS might support missions as: anti-air practice (target drones), surveillance, systems jamming and destruction, combat.
The UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System), seen as a system, includes several essential sub-systems (components): the UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), the payload, the navigation sub-systems, the control station, the UAV launch and recovery sub-systems, the communications sub-systems and support sub-systems (maintenance, transport, etc.).
The UAV can be classified according to their action range / altitude as a handheld UAV – 600 m altitude and the action range of about 5 km; close range UAV – 1,500 m altitude and the action range of about 10 km; NATO type UAV – 3,000 m altitude and the action range of about 50 km; tactical (TUAV) – 5,500 m altitude and the action range of about 160 km; a MALE type (Medium Altitude, Long Endurance) – up to 9,000 m altitude and the action range of about 200 km; HALE (High Altitude, Long Endurance) – above 9,000 m altitude and unlimited action range; Hypersonic type – high speed, supersonic (1 – 5 Mach) or hypersonic (above 5 Mach).
INCAS plays an essential role in introduction new technologies on military and civilian market. Through the whole of their activities, the scientists and engineers working at INCAS have brought an invaluable and outstanding contribution to the development of the economy, science and defense in Romania. INCAS is in a position to transfer a large system for situation awareness and special missions towards potential users in the civil and military sectors. This system is able to integrate in the unsegregated civil airspace.
In 1997 INCAS developed its first drone for training and aerial surveillance missions – the IAR-T model with tech composite structure and the first autopilot designed in Romania. A general description of IAR-T comprises the following characteristics: 20 kg weight, a two-stroke engine rated at 4.1 hp / 10,000 rpm, 180 km/h maximum speed and 30 minutes endurance, 5 kg of payload, transducers of state variables, shareholders flight control, PC board type ”all in one plate” + interface, a video system with transmission of a real time video images (via analog channel, from up to 10 km), a ground control desk, a boarded power subsystem, a telemetry System that allowed a real time data acquisition (speed, altitude) and other equipment as the ejection ramp, transmitter signal recovery and detection device.
The mission of the IAR-T covered aerial surveillance for civil and military destinations (aerial imagery), inflight scientific research (meteorology, hydrology, environment monitoring), microgravity test bed, military training (aerial targets), airborne laboratory (aerodynamics, flight dynamics, micro gravitation) and high-risk environment surveillance for civilian purposes (natural and ecological disasters).
In the recent years INCAS has built an RPAS – Clipped Wing Cub ARF 60%, used in the most important projects dedicated to Atmospheric Research. This UAV is a high performance prototype both in terms of accuracy and in terms of three-dimensional maneuvers. This airplane model is built of the best materials currently used in UAV industry, thus ensuring a maximum safety of flight.
INCAS increasingly approach the goal of becoming a leader in the UAS’ market. According to the new requirements and for a greater diversification of its products and services, as well as for a permanent increase of performance, the National Institute for Aerospace Research ”Elie Carafoli” – INCAS is currently developing new UAS technologies, most of these targeted for security and defense, but also for environmental monitoring activities. Thus, currently, through the National Programme – INCAS develops a project, entitled ”Development of Unmanned flight systems – UAS dedicated to advanced research missions”. Within this project INCAS will develop scientific research activities and technological design in order to create a UAS system of the MALE type to be used for aerial scientific experiments.
The main research activities and advanced innovation aim to optimize the target airplane shape; to investigate the aircraft control by implementing the ”morphing” concept; to build a complete digital mock up; to analyze the strength composite structure using NASTRAN-PATRAN; to formulate, develop and adapt the specifications and the architecture for the autopilot system, according to high-speed missions.
The project has a multidisciplinary pronounced character due to the complexity of the final product. Studies on the conception, definition, configuration and missions involve partners from different fields of competence.