The NightWarden is a new Unmanned Air System (UAS) offering presented by Textron Systems. The vehicle is based upon the framework of the proven, existing Shadow (B-model, Version 2) Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (TUAS) with increased performance and capabilities (it shares up to 70% commonality of parts with the Shadow). It was debuted at Paris Air Show 2017 with an announcement that the product completed prototype-testing and was ready for serial manufacture with delivery possible within twelve months.
As a Class 3 UAV, the NightWarden exhibits capabilities common to Class 4 types but broadens its Class 3 categorization by providing a "multi-mission" approach, able to tackle general Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) roles as well as direct-attack roles. The latter is made possible by underwing hardpoints fitted to carry current-generation Air-to-Surface Missiles (ASMs) (Hellfire assumed) and a precision delivery system. The NightWarden boasts lower noise signatures than its competitors and can carry a dual-nature payload up to 130lb (or 60lb through the SATCOM variant).
The platform's endurance is listed at 15 hours with an increase to over 18 hours with the installation of an auxiliary fuel tank. The wingspan reaches 22.8 feet. Operational ranges (through the available SATCOM configuration) is 1,100 kilometers. Take-off and landing (as well as taxiing) actions can be fully autonomous. The compact size of the NightWarden allows it to fit comfortably in the belly of a Lockheed C-130 Hercules fixed-wing transport (or similar).
Outwardly, the NightWarden showcases a conventional UAV design layout with straight, fixed wing mainplanes. The fuselage contains the pertinent operational and mission-specific systems including the chin-mounted optics fit, avionics, engine, fuel and payload. A conventionally-powered engine is featured at the rear and drives a multi-bladed propeller unit in pusher configuration. This unit is set between a pair of thin booms leading aft to form the empennage. These are capped by inward-canted vertical tail fins. The undercarriage is wheeled and fixed during flight.
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