BAE Systems, in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), completed the first successful test flight of its small, electric-powered Coyote unmanned aircraft system. The system deployed in midair from a 3-foot-long sonobuoy dropped from a P-3 aircraft for the 49-minute flight, the company said.
Initially funded by the U.S. Navy, the Coyote weighs only 13 pounds and has a 58-inch wingspan. During freefall, the system is designed to emerge from a sonobuoy, unfold its wings, and begin a directed flight path. Equipped with sensors or cameras, it can perform intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions while the host aircraft remains in safe airspace, according to the company.
NOAA funded the test flight, using its WP-3D Orion aircraft, to explore the Coyote’s potential use in weather research. Future testing will assess the system’s suitability to be dropped into a hurricane or tropical storm to measure wind speed and other data critical to forecasting.