Lockheed Martin’s Fury, the expeditionary, runway-independent, unmanned air vehicle (UAV), now has engine updates that will further increase its flight endurance.
Fury has undergone multiple demonstrations to prove it is capable of more than 12-h endurance with the prior 1802 engine configuration, while simultaneously operating 100 lb of payload including electro-optical/IR surveillance systems, voice communications relays, SATCOM links, and multiple signals intelligence payloads.
With the integration of the 1803 engine into the platform, Kevin Westfall, Director of Unmanned Systems at Lockheed Martin, says that engineering ground tests performed by the company indicate that Fury will be able to stay in the air for 15 continuous hours based on analyzing fuel burn rates, making it “one of the highest endurance unmanned systems in its class.”
Fury is considered a Group 3 unmanned air system (UAS) and weighs 210 lb empty without payload and 430 lb gross takeoff weight (GTOW), for a useful load of 220 lb to be distributed between payload and fuel as required by the mission/customer.
The 1803 has relatively the same footprint requiring no changes to the aircraft fairings. However, Westfall says it utilizes “a much improved mounting structure and cooling architecture.” The engine weight decreased by 4 lb during the update and is now 42 lb when assembled.
Overall, “changes were kept small to retain the fundamental system maturity and pedigree that has been demonstrated to date and to retain the ability to run off heavy fuels with a high power density form factor,” he said. “But while the changes are small, the effect on mission performance is remarkable. With only incremental enhancements, significant reliability, maintainability and fuel burn improvements could be realized.”
He says the core of the engine remains the same but the sensor suite, control architecture, and integration with the air vehicle has been modified for efficiency, durability, and reliability. Engine change times are improved to minutes, and the engine continues to run on heavy fuels like Jet A.
Westfall believes the 1803 is “an evolutionary step in a highly optimized system.” Much of the technology advances involve operation on military specified fuels as well as packaging. Fury utilizes a tight rear cowling coupled with integrated engine design features to achieve its optimized aerodynamic shape as well as low visual profile. This helps achieve lower in-flight power requirements that reduces acoustic detectability, and it narrows the cross section to reduce visual detectability.
Fury is not currently deployed but Lockheed Martin has production plans in place to meet customer demand and is ready to deliver Fury to their customers. To see the Fury in action, click here.