Company Partners with Army to Develop New Drone Engine

By Mandy Mayfield

Photo: UAV Turbines

A South Florida-based company that specializes in microturbine technology recently carried out the successful first flight of an unmanned aircraft fitted with a new propulsion system.

The Monarch 5 engine was created to support mid-sized commercial and military drones and was flown in September out of Griffiss International Airport in Rome, New York.

In 2018, UAV Turbines was awarded a five-year Army contract to produce a 200-horsepower engine, Kirk Warshaw, CEO of the company said in an interview.

The contract is a technology investment agreement, he said.

Legacy engines currently used by the military require more maintenance and are louder and less reliable than the Monarch 5, he noted.

“Not only do you have to do significant maintenance on a very short schedule, but you also end up swapping engines out,” he said.

The systems have had a series of well-documented engine failures over the course of the last five to 10 years, he added.

The Monarch 5 turbine engines are also fitted with a constant-speed propeller that can change its blade pitch to maintain a chosen rotational speed.

“The variable pitch propeller … will give [drones] the opportunity to have a higher climb rate, and higher dash rates, so that’s a significant improvement over what’s currently happening,” he said.

The military could utilize Monarch 5 technology in diverse ways because of the consistent need for electrical power in the field. For instance, it could be used to provide portable power supply for special operations forces or auxiliary power for combat vehicles, he said.

“There’s obviously a lot of different places that we believe … the military would have use for it,” Warshaw said. 

Topics: Robotics, Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Army News

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