Xawk 5 UAS, SN 001

Program Overview:

At conception, the primary objectives for the Xawk 5 UAS program aimed at improving surveillance system technology, manufacturing techniques of the flight vehicle, and part sustainability to further fulfill the spirit of the overall competition’s mission simulation.

The Xawk 5 airframe design features only minor changes from X-4.  Some of the highlights include: an aerodynamic nosecone to reduce aircraft drag, a better shock-absorbing nose landing gear design, and a custom fabricated C-channel spar to replace the commercial-of-the-shelf tube spar.  The aircraft was also upgraded to the 12-HP Desert Aircraft DA120 powerplant, for its improved reliability, performance, and weight reduction.

The onboard avionics package was completely overhauled with the Xawk 5.  The autopilot was upgraded to a Piccolo SL autopilot from Cloud Cap Technology, which increases the number of I/O data lines that can be operated through the autopilot.  The surveillance system was gutted, retaining only the wireless transmission bridge.  Moving away from the retrofitted pan/tilt conference cameras used in the past, Xipiter fabricated a custom two-axis gimbal-mount for a new Imperx Bobcat IGV-B4820 16-MP high-definition camera. The IGV-B4820 is currently used in other military applications.  An on-board PC104 computer from Versalogic (dubbed, Xocelot) was also added integrated in Xawk 5 to provide image processing and storage prior to transmission to the groundstation.

The name Xawk 5 differs from our other systems, dropping the “X-” nomenclature and symbolizing system stability.

Operational Success:

Due to a last minute software glitch, Xawk 5 was unable to be demonstrated within the alotted timeframe at the 2011 AUVSI Student Competition; however the UAS has completed more flight tests than any other Xipiter-built system.  The aircraft is now used as the primary test platform and backup aircraft for Xipiter.  Further and more advanced testing will take place throughout the fall.

Despite remaining grounded, the team still won $1,300, which was reinvested into further team research.

Random Trivia:

We get asked many times about why we chose the blue/orange/white paint schema for SN 001. It is actually a tribute to our sponsor, Raspet Flight Research Laboratory, who provides us with facility space to build our aircraft. The colors and patterning matches an early color pencil render of the XV-11 MARVEL, which was one of the lab’s first major pioneering research projects.


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