The Army Aviation and Missile Command has awarded a contract to perform engine retrofits on the RQ-7 Shadow UAV. The contract, awarded to AI of Hunt Valley, MD on Sept. 22, 2009, was for $49,185,103, a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract “over and above work for EFI,” the Army announcement said–that is, replacing the UAVs’ existing carbeurator-based Wankel rotary engines with electronic fuel injection Wankels.
The estimated completion date of the work is Oct. 31, 2009.
The Shadow is the descendant of the Pioneer UAV, jointly developed by AAI and Israeli Aircraft Industries — the “mother of all UAVs”. Iraqi soldiers surrendered to a Pioneer RPV off USS Wisconsin during the Gulf War, after a bombardment of their positions by the USS Missouri.
Full disclosure– I was tangentially involved in Pioneer testing aboard USS Iowa in the late 1980s, as a deck officer on that ship…mostly I stood ready with a motor whaleboat to recover the bits of the aircraft we were recovering if it splashed rather than getting caught between the “goalposts” (see image below).
The Shadow’s stats:
- Length: 11.2 ft in (3.41 m)
- Wingspan: 14 ft in (3.87 m)
- Height: 3.3 ft in (1 m)
- Empty weight: 186 lb (77 kg)
- Gross weight: 375 lb (170 kg)
- Powerplant: × 1 Wankel UAV Engine 741, 38 hp (28.5 kW) each
- Range: 68 miles (109.5 km)
- Endurance: 6 hours
- Service ceiling: 15,000 ft
The main sensor on the Shadow is an electro-optic/ infrared camera in a gimbaled ball on the underside of the UAV. The Army was reportedly investigating possible signals intelligence sensors for the Shadow in 2008.