The A160 Turbine (A160T) Hummingbird is a multi-mission unmanned rotorcraft system that enables significant improvements in endurance and range over conventional technology.
Description and Purpose:
With its vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capability, the A160T is runway independent and can operate in austere land environments, at sea and in complex urban terrain. Its missions can include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; direct attack; communications relay; precision re-supply; and remote delivery of unmanned ground vehicles and unmanned ground sensors.
The A160T can reach higher altitudes, hover for longer periods of time, go greater distances and operate much more quietly than current helicopters. In May 2008, the A160T flew for 18.7 hours, setting a world record for endurance in its weight class for UAVs.
The aircraft's unique optimum speed rotor (OSR) system allows the blade rate-per-minute (RPM) to be tailored to flight conditions to significantly improve engine efficiency. This is a departure from conventional rotor systems, which tend to have a fixed rotor RPM that is set for a worst-case flight condition (e.g., takeoff at maximum weight) and is suboptimal under all other flight conditions. By varying the A160T's RPM to account for differences in weight, altitude and cruise speed, peak efficiency of its rotor system can be achieved throughout various flight regimes.
||5,500 to 6,500 lbs
|Maximum Cruise Ceiling:
||20,000 ft (limited by current engine certification)
|Max Cruise Speed:
||20+hours at 15,000 ft
||2,250+ nautical miles
The A160T joined Boeing's line of UAS vehicles in 2004 with the acquisition of Frontier Systems Inc., in Irvine, Calif.
Leading up to its record-setting 18.7-hour flight, the aircraft completed endurance tests of three, five, eight and 12 hours, all using a fraction of the A160T's maximum fuel capacity while carrying a variety of payloads. The A160T successfully completed a 142-knot speed test, while in low gear on the two-speed gearbox, and a 20,000-foot Hover-Out of-Ground-Effect (HOGE) flight. The A160T also has made more than 50 successful flights with the FORESTER foliage-penetrating radar.
In March 2010, the A160T successfully completed an autonomous cargo demonstration for the Marines. The simulated mission carried 1,250 pounds over two 150-nautical-mile round trips, with the A160T operating autonomously on a preprogrammed mission.
The A160T's predecessor, the gasoline-powered A160, flew for the first time in 2002. Earlier A160s were powered by four-cylinder and six-cylinder automobile engines.