Technology Driven ·  Warfighter Focused

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Manufacturing Technology for Affordable and Reliable Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Propulsion

U.S. ARMY MANTECH

Addresses manufacturing issues that are inherent to all types of Very Small Heavy Fuel Engines (VSHFE) as well as utilizing additive manufacturing techniques to enhance overall performance while reducing weight.

OBJECTIVE / SOLUTION

The goal of the program is to demonstrate an affordable Very Small Heavy/Multi Fuel Engine prototype viable for use in an operational system such as the Shadow and its upgrades. Currently, operational UAVs in the 30-80hp range use AVGAS or MOGAS and are not compliant with the “One-Fuel Forward” battlefi eld policy regarding heavy fuel application. Additionally, current propulsion systems have shown poor reliability and availability. This reliance on high-octane fuel has also been linked to a low Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) for gasoline engines that operate at high RPMs over a sustained period of time.
This program is addressing manufacturing issues that are inherent to all types of Very Small Heavy Fuel Engines (VSHFE) as well as utilizing additive manufacturing techniques to enhance overall performance while reducing weight.

ACHIEVEMENTS

• Demonstrate a heavy fuel engine for tactical UAVs capable of Operational Readiness Rates of ~95% while utilizing battlefield fuels
• Project results will contribute to meeting Readiness, Reliability, Maintainability and Commonality for Sustained Operational Tempo (FOC-09-04), Power and Energy compliant (FOC-09-03) and Supports Logistics under the Top Ten Warfighter Outcomes (WFO)
• Partnered with Air Force ManTech to leverage complementary additive manufacturing efforts
• Partnered with National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM) to evaluate and address manufacturing barriers

BENEFITS

• Mature critical manufacturing processes required to improve reliability, efficiency, and affordability of VSHFE in the 30 to 80hp class
• Address common technology issues inherent in these airbreathing compression engines to increase reliability, reduce attrition and decrease life cycle costs
• Program goals include increasing Mean Time Between Repair (MTBR) from 250 to 500 hours and reducing cost/hp from $750/hp to $700/hp, while maintaining or improving a cruise Brake Specific Fuel Consumption (BSFC) of 0.6 lbs/hp-hr

STATUS

• Conducted Block on Ring high performance coating tests through the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM) to evaluate internal component coatings
• Manufacturing process development for the fabrication of a Rotor Half Keystone Side Seal
• Identified superior materials and improved machining processes for eccentric shafts

WEAPON SYSTEMS / SECONDARY ITEMS IMPACTED

• The project will impact UAVs requiring a heavy fuel engine in the 30-80hp class (such as Shadow) as well as Auxiliary Power Units (APU) for air and ground vehicles

POTENTIAL COST AVOIDANCE

• Return on Investment of 8.2 to 1 with a cost benefi t of $101.9M

POC: Army ManTech Manager, U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command (RDECOM), Aviation Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC), Manufacturing Science & Technology Division, ATTN: RDMR-SEM, 5400 Fowler Road, Redstone Arsenal, AL 35898-5000

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