Bar­racuda: 10 years of de­vel­op­ment in un­manned flight tech


Cas­sid­ian looks back over what is now 10 years of test flight ex­pe­ri­ence with its Bar­racuda UAS demon­stra­tor, a time in which the com­pany gath­ered unique know-how. Bar­racuda forms one of the ele­ments of Cas­sid­ian’s com­pre­hen­sive UAS ca­pa­bil­i­ties, which make the com­pany the Euro­pean leader in this high-tech seg­ment.

“With this unique un­manned demon­stra­tor in Europe, Cas­sid­ian is in a po­si­tion to forge ahead with tech­no­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ment in un­manned aerial sys­tems,” ex­plains Rolf Wirtz, head of Cas­sid­ian’s Mis­sion Sys­tems unit and one of the ini­tia­tors of the Bar­racuda pro­gramme.

Bar­racuda al­lows Cas­sid­ian to ex­plore all of the key ques­tions of un­manned flight. This also in­cludes the de­vel­op­ment of the TCAS col­li­sion avoid­ance sys­tem for UAS and var­i­ous as­pects of au­to­ma­tion. To­day’s re­search ac­tiv­i­ties fo­cus mainly on two points: net­work-cen­tric op­er­a­tions and the in­te­gra­tion of un­manned aerial sys­tems into con­trolled airspace. Since the de­vel­op­ment of the demon­stra­tor be­gan in 2003, Bar­racuda has com­pleted more than 540 ground tests and 13 flight tests. And the re­sults from Bar­racuda test­ing are di­rectly in­cor­po­rated into the de­vel­op­ment of fu­ture UAS by Cas­sid­ian.

The Bar­racuda demon­stra­tor is over eight me­tres long, has a wing­span of more than seven me­tres and a max­i­mum take-off weight of around three tonnes. It is pro­pelled by a jet tur­bine from Pratt & Whit­ney Canada, which de­liv­ers 14 kN thrust, and op­er­ates en­tirely au­tonomously dur­ing the test flights, only be­ing mon­i­tored for flight safety pur­poses. The un­manned aerial ve­hi­cle’s struc­ture con­sists en­tirely of car­bon-fi­bre com­pos­ites (CFC). Apart from the land­ing gear, Bar­racuda is an in­no­va­tive “elec­tri­cal air­borne sys­tem” that, in con­trast to con­ven­tional air­craft, dis­penses with hy­draulic com­po­nents and uses elec­tro-me­chan­i­cal ac­tu­a­tors in­stead.

In May 2006, Bar­racuda took off for its maiden flight in Mur­cia, Spain. Since 2009, the flight tests have been car­ried out from the Cana­dian Goose Bay mil­i­tary air­port. In this con­text, Bar­racuda has been used for flights to test the Bun­deswehr’s un­manned flight pro­ce­dures as part of the re­search and de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme “Ag­ile UAV in Net­work Cen­tric En­vi­ron­ment” by the Ger­man Fed­eral Of­fice of Bun­deswehr Equip­ment, In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy and In-Ser­vice Sup­port (BAAINBw). Fur­ther cam­paigns are al­ready be­ing planned.

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