A VA001 Vanilla ultra endurance land-launched medium-altitude, long-endurance aircraft (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) participated in U.S. Pacific Fleet’s Unmanned Integrated Battle Problem (UxS IBP) 21 at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu. The UAV system can be launched from a special platform installed on the pick-up. VA001 is designed and built by Vanilla Aircraft for military forces intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), and aerial mesh network relay missions.
Development of the UAS began in 2009. Vanilla Aircraft conducted a 25-hour endurance flight testing at the Las Cruces International Airport in April 2016, in support with NMSU’s UAS FTC. A long-endurance flight of the VA001 UAS was performed in November 2016. With a 20lb payload, the aircraft flew at altitudes between 6,500ft and 7,500ft above mean sea level and stayed aloft for 56 hours without refuelling over Las Cruces.
The unmanned airplane is designed to carry multi-spectral imaging sensors for aerial remote sensing missions and communications relay payload to provide reliable communication to tactical units operating in difficult terrains. The sensor data is transmitted to the ground control station in real-time by means of a secure data link. It can also be fitted with electro-optical sensors to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data.
The VA001 is powered by an efficient heavy-fuel four-cycle combustion engine, which uses JP-8 fuel. The onboard Pegasus PA-R-250-8 and PA-R-205-4 type actuators provide aerodynamic flight control for the aircraft. The engine drives a two-blade propeller, mounted in a pusher configuration in the tail section. The UAV can fly at altitudes of 15,000ft and reach up to a range of 18,500nm. It has the ability to endure for approximately ten days without refuelling.
210422-N-UN492-1093 POINT MUGU, Calif. (April 22, 2021) (U.S. Navy photo by Construction Mechanic 2nd Class Michael Schutt)