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Pioneering Electric Airplane Firm Receives Government Contract to Build and Fly Ten Aircraft

Yates Electrospace Corporation’s Silent Arrow® Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Wins United States Marine Corps Phase 2 Flight Test Program


 LOS ANGELES, Nov. 13, 2017


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U.S. Marines To Test Disposable Resupply UAV

The U.S. Marine Corps plans to test an unmanned, disposable glider that can be launched from a transport aircraft to inexpensively but precisely deliver supplies to ground forces. 


Startup Yates Electrospace will supply unpowered versions of its Silent Arrow electric-powered unmanned cargo aircraft to the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL). Under the 12-month program, the company will build and test 10 aircraft with gross weights to 500-1,000 lb.  


Goals set by the MCWL include delivering 700 lb. of supplies to within 150 ft. with a low-cost, single-use aircraft, Yates says. This would reduce resupply costs by an order of magnitude while not compromising the position of forces being resupplied through noise or the need to recover the UAV. 


The tandem-wing glider is designed to be deployed from a Lockheed Martin C-130 airlifter, Bell Boeing MV-22 tiltrotor or Sikorsky CH-53 helicopter from altitudes of 10,000-25,000 ft. and to achieve a glide ratio of between 8:1 and 15:1, for a range of 15-70 mi. 


Yates was founded in 2012 by electric vehicle pioneer Chip Yates, who holds records for the fastest electric motorcycle (at 200 mph) and electric aircraft (exceeding 220 mph). In addition to its UAV business, Yates includes electric-aircraft developer Avius Electric and a research arm focused on midair recharging, kinetic energy recovery and drone delivery. 


Yates’ website cites company milestones including a design contract with startup Wright Electric, which is developing an all-electric short-haul airliner, design of a nine-seat hybrid-electric commuter aircraft, and construction of a 500-kW contra-rotating electric propulsion unit.  —Graham Warwick, graham.warwick@aviationweek.com 


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