IDEX 2023: EDGE unveils transport rotary wing UAS at IDEX 2023

Probably the biggest stand in the whole IDEX exhibition, the EDGE exhibition area hosts a number of new systems, among which we find two rotary wing UAS with respectively 500 kg and 50 kg payload. These are designed and manufactured by ADASI (Abu Dhabi Autonomous Systems Investments), the EDGE entity specialised in unmanned air systems.

Known as Air Truck, the bigger one features two counter-rotating three-blade rotors with a diameter of 12.8 meters, located just above the cargo bay, which allows solving many centre of gravity issues. The rotor solution ensures a limited footprint, the minimum size for an unprepared landing zone being 30 x 30 meters, however the Air Truck can take off from a prepared ship flight deck of 15 x 15 meters. Without blades the helicopter is 7.7 meters long, its height being 4 meters.

The fuselage bends towards the front to provide an aerodynamic shape, a two-wheel secondary landing ensuring stand-off distance from the ground of the optronic sensor allowing the operator to see the landing zone, while the two main landing gears are located on the sides. A rear boom with inverted vertical tailplanes ensures longitudinal stability.

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The new EDGE product is powered by two 180 kW gas turbines and has a standard take-off weight of 2,100 kg (maximum theoretical 2,500 kg), the above mentioned payload being carried with full fuel tanks. Maximum operating speed is 140 km/h, while maximum endurance speed is 90 km/h. At 120 km/h with full tanks and maximum payload the Air Truck has a 360 km range. The  4 hours maximum endurance is however obtained at 90 km/h.

A payload container known as Air Box fitted under the fuselage hosts the payload, ammunition, food, water, etc. Its external dimensions are  2.209 x 1.168 x 1.130 meters, while internally these are 2.146 x 1.068 x 0.969 meters, which makes a 2.1 m3 volume.

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With a completely different architecture, a tandem rotors layout that makes the ADASI system look very much like a CH-47 Chinook, the QX6-50 is powered by a 4-cylinder 4-stroke petrol engine and can take off at 360 kg, 50 of which being the payload. The delivery speed is 170 km/h, maximum endurance being 3.5 hours, delivery radius being 200 km. Rotors diameter is 4.3 meters while the fuselage is 3.97 meters long and 1.43 meters high, and is fitted with two landing skids whish structure allows sufficient stand-off distance from the ground to host the transport container. It can be transported in a 20’ container.

Designed for logistic support, with operational ceiling round 3,000 meters, both systems can improve delivery of critical payloads in a very short time in difficult scenarios, without risking human lives. No details were provided on the level of autonomy, but it is safe to assume that the transfer flight is carried out autonomously via waypoints, while take-off and landing are done by remotely operation. According to EDGE both UAS are flying and are undergoing a test flight campaign with the aim of reaching certification as soon as possible.

Photos courtesy P. Valpolini