The EMT Luna series of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Luna X-2000) is billed as a short-range, all-weather airborne reconnaissance and surveillance platform and is currently in operational service with the German Army. Such UAV systems, while not armed to engage enemy forces, have proven vital cogs in the modern machinery of war for their providing of real-time information to commanders on the ground. These systems are able to track individual targets and further laser designate them for awaiting strike teams or vehicles on the ground. The Luna provides its operators with a very capable airborne "eye in the sky" and has already seen extensive operational service over the Balkans and Afghanistan through as many as 6,000 sorties to date. The system has proved itself a sound and highly capable UAV regardless of environment. Like most other UAVs in this class, the Luna is marketed as both a military-minded and civilian-minded UAV, adaptable for variable mission needs that go beyond reconnaissance and surveillance and can include search and rescue and monitoring of environmental effects such as wildfires and volcanic eruptions. The Luna is manufactured by the German concern of EMT Penzberg and the German military has made use of the EMT Luna since March of 2000. Total procured units to date is thought to be about 40 examples.
The external design of the Luna series is a mix of both highly conventional and unorthodox shapes when compared to other UAVs in this class. The fuselage is of a well-contoured, teardrop shape that bulges at the front and tapers at the rear. Payloads are contained in the lower forward portions of the fuselage design. The wings are straight appendages fitted to either side of the fuselage and each sport clipped wingtips. The empennage displays a traditional vertical tail fin (also clipped at its top) while the horizontal planes are set well aft and these exhibit additional, downward extending vertical tail fins. One of the more interesting design elements of the Luna is its mounting of the engine along the spine of the fuselage atop a root extension aft of the nose assembly. The Luna lacks anything in the way of a conventional undercarriage and is therefore launched into the air via a catapult and is recoverable via an integrated parachute to help retard its fall.
The engine powers a three-bladed propeller in a "pusher" configuration and is a 2-cylinder, 2-stroke installation. This allows the UAV to hit speeds of 43 miles per hour and reach altitudes of up to 11,500 feet with a mission endurance time between six and eight hours. The design manages a wingspan of 13.6 feet with a running length of 7.7 feet and - despite her rather "light" appearance in print - the Luna is an exceptionally large UAV system that requires many hands to lift. The Luna can be further broken down into key components for transport.
Like other modern UAVs, the heart and soul of the Luna system is her payload which usually consists of cameras and sensor equipment. To help speed up changes to mission parameters, Luna payload is specifically designed to be modular in its very nature assuring that ground personnel can quickly exchange any current payload for another arrangement within time. Beyond the conventional camera and infrared systems available, the Luna can be outfitted with specialized sensors to monitor the atmosphere for Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) contaminants or deliver data gathering for meteorological use. The Luna can also be given payloads designed to target enemy radio and radar transmissions which broadens its military applications for the modern warfighter.
Luna UAVs are designed to operate as far out as 62 miles from its control station (it is inherently a short-ranged system). It is fully autonomous in that it can fly to preset waypoints under its own control without input from the ground-based pilot. The actual pilot control station consists of a flight stick-type controller and keyboard with four full-color monitors to relay current mission details, in-flight data monitoring of onboard systems and the all-important camera feed - all delivered in real-time. The entire Luna system - including the UAV, crew and command station - can be airlifted to anywhere in the world via a medium-class military transport helicopter or similar.
EMT Penzberg began operations in 1978 and has served the military aviation community for decades. More recently, the firm has developed a series of unarmed micro-, small- and medium-sized fixed -wing and rotary-wing UAVs for military use.