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19 June 2015

Textron Systems’ Shadow of Tomorrow

At Paris Air Show 2015, Textron Systems business development manager for unmanned systems Brent J. Philson spoke to MT and explained how the SHADOW M2 has kept what he calls, “the goodness of the SHADOW,” with the new system building on, “a million hour legacy.” Providing 80% commonality with the older SHADOW, Textron Systems’ new tactical UAS is, “payload agnostic,” according to Philson and in comparison to its predecessor it has more space, which can be used to carry additional advanced sensor payloads, this due to an open internal bay in the centre of the aircraft. A second EO/IR FMV sensor, typically in a 10in turret, or SAR can be installed here. Alternatively, the bay can accommodate an auxiliary fuel tank, giving the air vehicle an endurance of 17 hours, or house some of the equipment that is normally fitted in the front of the aircraft. This might occur when SATCOM capability has to be added for BLOS operations. This capability is not found on any of the earlier SHADOW aircraft. A typical SHADOW M2 system would consist of four air vehicles, two of which could be equipped with SATCOM. Wing mounted pods are also available which can carry SIGINT, CBRN detection and other special purpose payloads. If the need arises, the SHADOW M2 can also be weaponised as Textron Systems’ FURY miniature PGM has been tested on both the SHADOW V2 and M2. For this, Textron Systems uses the same Harris (then Exelis) rack as found on the AT-6, now rebranded as WOLVERINE, and the SCORPION jet. Philson indicated that there is a lot of interest for FURY. However, it has not attracted any actual customers yet.

Textron Systems is this week conducting a live demonstration with its SHADOW M2 for the French procurement agency DGA. This is related to Textron Systems bid for the French Army requirement for a follow on to its current Sagem SPERWER tactical UAS. For the bid Textron Systems has joined forces with Airbus Defence & Space with the system being offered under the name ARTEMIS.

Several variants of the SHADOW are in use with the US Army which is right now in the process of deploying 88 V2 upgrade kits. According to Philson, the V2 upgrade includes an IFE (Increased Fuel Efficiency) engine, a rewing package, a TCDL and a high powered launcher.

The US Marine Corps (USMC) too operates the SHADOW and so does the military of Australia. In Sweden, Textron Systems joined forces with Saab. The Nordic country operates the SHADOW 200 with a rewing package. Italy has received the all digital SHADOW V2 and will soon get two more systems. Poland currently has a phased requirement for new UAS for which Textron Systems intends to offer the SHADOW M2 and the AEROSONDE Mk 4.7 small UAS. The latter can support both land based and seabased operations and is now also on offer to both the Netherlands and Denmark as these countries are seeking to recapitalise their tactical UAS inventories.
Pieter Bastiaans

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