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Arcturus T-20 - United States, 2009


Detailing the development and operational history of the Arcturus T-20 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).


 Entry last updated on 4/17/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

  Arcturus T-20  
Picture of Arcturus T-20
Picture of Arcturus T-20


Up to 160 units of the Arcturus T-20 are planned for United States Navy procurement.







The Arcturus T-20 was initially developed as a private venture by the Arcturus-UAV LLC concern of California, USA and furthered by the US Air Force Research Laboratory. Arcturus-UAV LLC, as its name suggests, is a developer of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) featured in both commercial and military applications. Today, the firm markets three distinct models of UAVs made up of the "T-15", "T-16" and - its largest UAV design to date - the "T-20". The T-20 is classified as a medium-range, reusable reconnaissance UAV which dictates a payload of advanced sensors, cameras and other applicable surveillance, tracking and monitoring equipment. First flight of the T-20 was recorded in 2008 while the United States military evaluated the system in early 2009. To date some 10 have been delivered while a full complement of 160 is ultimately expected.

Design of the T-20 is of a conventional aircraft nature with the airframe constructed largely of composites. Its design is characterized by its slab-sided fuselage capped with a nose-mounted engine installation and a traditional "T-style" tail assembly at the rear. Avionics are housed in the aft portion of the fuselage while fuel is stored throughout the wings. The empennage is made up of a single large vertical tail rudder completed with a horizontal tail surface at its extreme top. The main wing assemblies are shoulder-mounted which allow for strong lift capabilities (especially at launch) and good ground clearance overall (with four underwing hardpoints available for parachuting "drop pods"). Each wing is straight in their design and feature clipped wingtips. The internal fuselage bay can house up to 65lbs while a modular pallet system allows awaiting ground personnel the capability to replace existing payloads within minutes, getting the T-20 back airborne in the shortest amount of time possible. An onboard camera suite allows for real-time relay of the visual feed to the applicable ground station and offers an unobstructed 360-degree field-of-view (FOV). The T-20 is also completed with integrated electro-optical, infrared and target laser systems as well as a GPS-based autopilot which can autonomously navigate preset waypoints.






The T-20 airframe enjoys a full wingspan of 17.25 feet with a running length of 9.4 feet and is powered by a single fuel-injected, 4-stroke gasoline engine of 10 horsepower fitted to the nose, this managing a two-bladed propeller. Top listed speed is 104 miles per hour with a cruise speed of 63 miles per hour. The T-20s configuration allows for a mission endurance time of over 16 hours (this with a 35lb payload - up to 500 miles at altitudes of 15,000 feet). Empty weight is listed at 80lbs while a full mission load sees the T-20 weigh in at 165lbs.

While the T-20 lacks any integrated undercarriage facilities, the aircraft is allowed airborne via the included pneumatic portable catapult. This launch system is formally designated by Arcturus as the "Portable Launching System" (PLS) and can be set up for UAV operations from land or sea-based naval vessels - literally anywhere in the world where a flat landing surface can be found for the UAVs recovery. The Arcturus T-20 can land in one of two ways - via a prepared net arrangement or along its belly on a skid. This allows the T-20 to operate just about anywhere it has the space to both launch and be recovered and does not require the prepared runaway facilities of its larger, more expensive brethren.




Arcturus T-20 Specifications



Service Year: 2009
Type: Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)
National Origin: United States
Manufacturer(s): Arcturus-UAV LLC / Air Force Research Laboratory - USA
Total Production: 20


Structural (Crew, Dimensions, Weights)



Operating Crew (Typical): 0
Overall Length: 9.51 feet (2.9 meters)
Overall Width: 17.39 feet (5.30 meters)
Overall Height: 3.28 feet (1.00 meters)

Weight (Empty): 110 lb (50 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 187 lb (85 kg)

Power / Performance (Engine Type, Top Speed)



Engine: 1 x Aviation Gasoline AvGas 110LL 4-stroke engine developing 10 horsepower and driving a two-bladed propeller at the nose.

Maximum Speed: 76 knots (87 mph; 140 kph)
Maximum Range: 432 nautical miles (497 miles; 800 km)
Service Ceiling: 25,000 feet (7,620 meters; 4.73 miles)

Armament / Mission Payload



None. Modular payload of up to 65lb. 4 x underwing hardpoints for mission drop pods.

Global Operators (Customers, Users)



United States

Model Variants



T-20 - Base Series Designation
T-20 Block I - Carburetor equipped
T-20 Block II - Fuel-injection equipped
T-20A - Provision for underwing pods
T-20R - Research Variant


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