×
Aircraft / Aviation Vehicles & Artillery Infantry Arms Warships & Submarines Military Pay Scale Military Ranks
HOME
AIRCRAFT / AVIATION
MODERN AIR FORCES
COUNTRIES
MANUFACTURERS
COMPARE
BY CONFLICT
BY TYPE
BY DECADE
MODERN AIRCRAFT
DRONE TECHNOLOGY

Boeing MQ-18 Hummingbird (A160)


Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Helicopter (2012)


Aviation / Aerospace

1 / 4
High angled top front right side view of the Boeing Hummingbird UAV in flight
2 / 4
Underside left view of the Boeing Hummingbird UAV in flight
3 / 4
Front view of an incoming Boeing Hummingbird UAV helicopter in flight
4 / 4
Left side profile view of the Boeing Hummingbird UAV helicopter at rest

Jump-to: Specifications

The Boeing Hummingbird UAV helicopter project was dropped by the United States Army in December of 2012, bringing an end to its flying days.



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 10/30/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.
The A160 Hummingbird is a rotary-winged unmanned aerial vehicle that supplies the benefits of conventional UAV systems with that of modern battlefield helicopters. The Hummingbird projects a smaller target, enhanced speed, improved engine efficiency and provides capabilities beyond that of current-generation, full-sized rotary-wing systems. Additionally, as a UAV system, the Hummingbird keeps her flight crew safely away from combat and can provide pinpoint delivery of various payloads to forces in need along a front. Beyond her cargo-carrying capabilities, the Hummingbird promotes versatility and can tackle sorties involving intelligence gathering, reconnaissance and surveillance of the enemy or battlefield (in real-time), act as a mobile aerial communications relay for ground forces and provide target acquisition as needed. It is said that the Hummingbird also maintains a largely autonomous presence on the battlefield, negating much of the human interaction inherent in other UAVs, programmed to make "decisions" during its flight in finding the best avenue for completing a given objective.

The A160's origins lay in Frontier Systems, Incorporated development of their Maverick UAV, a converted form of their Robinson R22 two-seat, manned civilian helicopter product and forerunner to the A160 UAV. The Maverick achieved its first unmanned flight in 1998, just one year after the program had officially started. Internal systems developed for the Maverick UAV were later utilized in the upcoming A160. The Maverick was then acquired by the American military with at least four having served (or possibly still serving) with the US Navy in an unknown capacity.

First flight of the A160 was recorded in January of 2002 and early examples were fitted with an automobile-type, gasoline-fueled engine of 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder breeds tied to a three-bladed rotor assembly. In 2003, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded Frontier Systems a contract worth $75 million dollars to produce and test up to four A160 prototypes. However, Boeing absorbed Frontier Systems in 2004 and, in effect, added the Hummingbird to their burgeoning UAV product line. The Hummingbird served, for a time, under the Boeing Phantom Works banner and, later, fell under Boeing's Advanced Systems, a component of Boeing's Integrated Defense Systems.

The revised and improved A160T ("T" to indicate its new turbine powerplant) began flight testing in June of 2007 and, in 2008, she set an endurance world record for a UAV in this weight class, amassing 18.7 total hours of flight time. On September 27th, 2007, one of the A160T prototypes was lost in a crash when a sensor data ceased responding with the flight computer. In March of 2010, the Hummingbird completed an evaluation for the US Marines of her cargo-carrying capabilities when delivering some 2,500lbs in two 150-nautical mile sorties between a pair of simulated Forward Operating Bases (FOB). What made this test wholly unique was that the Hummingbird operated through its preprogrammed mission settings and was more or less completely autonomous. On July 28th, 2010, another A160T prototype crashed after losing control. In August of 2010, a pair of Hummingbirds, fitted with the new "Forrester" radar system, was flight tested in Belize. The radar, also currently development, was being tested for its ability to scan through dense foliage. However, these flight tests resulted in yet another crash of an A160T and thusly ending the tropical evaluation prematurely.
Despite the setbacks, production is reported to have already begun at Boeing's Mesa, Arizona facility as of March 2010. Its formal US military designation will be "YMQ-18A" and the powerplant will be a Pratt & Whitney PW207D turboshaft engine.

Externally, the Hummingbird fields the same appearance as a conventional manned helicopter thanks to its largely unchanged shape from her Robinson R22 helicopter/Maverick UAV origins. The fuselage is smooth, tapered sharply at the front to form a nose cone and elegantly streamlined aft to form the bulk of the fuselage and empennage tail structure. The four-bladed main rotor sits close to the body atop the fuselage and just slightly ahead center. The undercarriage is made up of two retractable main landing gear legs (retracting rearwards) under amidships with a non-retracting tail wheel at the rear. The powerplant and gearbox are centered within the fuselage with the former aspirated by a pair of side-mounted intakes. The two-bladed tail rotor is set at the aft-most position on the aircraft, facing port side. A vertical tail fin is positioned under the empennage structure and holds the tail wheel. Payloads can be carried directly under the fuselage between the main landing gear legs. The Hummingbird sports a structural length of 35 feet with the main rotor showcasing a 36 foot diameter. Her maximum take-off weight is listed at 6,500lbs. Maximum cruise ceiling is expected to be 30,000 feet though, in its current configuration, the UAV's engine is rated at 20,000 feet. Maximum cruise speed is 189 miles per hour with a 2,589 mile range. Hover altitude is reported to be 20,000 feet.

Boeing claims that their Hummingbird can outperform most any capability inherent in modern helicopters found over the battlefield today. The UAV surpasses both the service ceiling (by some 10,000 feet) and loiter times (24 hours +) of that as showcased by contemporary rotary wing systems. Attention has also been given to the noise levels produced by the Hummingbird so that it promotes less of an audible presence than that of her larger conventional sisters. One of the unique facets of the Hummingbird is its self-adjusting rotor speed technology, allowing the operator to react to changing altitude conditions "on the fly". The rotors can have their revolutions per minute adjusted to supply an optimal rotation (lesser or greater) depending on external conditions, saving fuel in the process and maximizing the Hummingbird's time aloft. Boeing has aptly labeled this feature the "Optimum Speed Rotor" (OSR) system.

Much like a conventional helicopter, the Hummingbird can take off and land without the need of a runway and, unlike other UAVs, does not need a launch catapult or retrieval system. This quality makes her a positive addition to any mobile army fighting along a dynamic front, particularly those groups cut off from traditional battlefield resources. Precise control also assures commanders that the Hummingbird can resupply soldiers in just about any battlefield environment including mountainous regions and urban settings. The Hummingbird has also generated interest for ship-borne use on navy vessels in need of an active, high-altitude, long endurance "eye in the sky".

As of this writing (2012), the Hummingbird is still undergoing active development near Victorville, California. The United States Army (US Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate), US Navy (Naval Air Systems Command), US Special Forces, the US Department of Homeland Security and several foreign entities have shown an interest in Boeing's new and revolutionary rotary-wing UAV system.

In December of 2010, the US DoD (Naval Air Systems Command) formally announced a $30 million contract ($29,935,037) to Frontier Systems, Incorporated for the procurement of two Hummingbirds to support ongoing American military actions in Afghanistan. Deliveries are expected sometime after August of 2011.

In March of 2011, the US DoD (Army) formally announced a $14 million contract ($13,999,000) to Frontier Systems, Incorporated for the procurement of two upgrade packages concerning the YMQ-18A prototypes. This will bring the two units up to a "Block II" configuration.

In mid-2012, the Hummingbird product was halted by US Army authorities. In December of 2012, a review of the project left the A160 out of the US Army's long term plans.

Specifications



Service Year
2012

Origin
United States national flag graphic
United States

Status
CANCELLED
Development Ended.
Crew
0
UNMANNED
Production
2
UNITS


Frontier Systems, Incorporated / Boeing Phantom Works / Boeing Integrated Defense Systems - Boeing Advanced Systems - USA
National flag of the United States United States (cancelled)
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Transport
General transport functionality to move supplies/cargo or personnel (including wounded and VIP) over range.
Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
Unmanned Capability
Aircraft inherently designed (or later developed) with an unmanned capability to cover a variety of over-battlefield roles.


Length
35.1 ft
(10.70 m)
Width/Span
36.1 ft
(11.00 m)
Empty Wgt
2,500 lb
(1,134 kg)
MTOW
6,499 lb
(2,948 kg)
Wgt Diff
+3,999 lb
(+1,814 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Boeing MQ-18 Hummingbird (A160) production variant)
Installed: 1 x Pratt & Whitney PW207D turboshaft engine.
Max Speed
160 mph
(258 kph | 139 kts)
Ceiling
26,247 ft
(8,000 m | 5 mi)
Range
1,609 mi
(2,589 km | 4,795 nm)


♦ MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030


(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the base Boeing MQ-18 Hummingbird (A160) production variant. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database. View aircraft by powerplant type)
None. Cargo or equipment pod can be fitted underfuselage.


A160 - Base Series Designation; gasoline-fueled 4- or 6-cylinder automobile engine.
A160T - Fitted with turbine engine.
YMQ-18A - US Military Prototype Designation; fitted with Pratt & Whitney PW207D turboshaft engine.
MQ-18A - Expected Formal Military Designation


Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft


Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.

Similar Aircraft



Aviation developments of similar form and function, or related to, the Boeing MQ-18 Hummingbird (A160)...


Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies


2021 Military Pay Scale Army Ranks Navy Ranks Air Force Ranks Alphabet Code DoD Dictionary American War Deaths French Military Victories Vietnam War Casualties

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com.

Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world, WDMMA.org, the World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft, and SR71blackbird.org, detailing the history of the world's most iconic spyplane.


Facebook Logo YouTube Logo

www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-