Modern technology has changed warfare in a lot of ways. With regard to aviation, the evolution is noticeable in combat aircraft, mainly due to the increasingly frequent use of unmanned vehicles.
A Singapore-based aerospace company Kelley Aerospace has launched Arrow, a supersonic unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) that will be unlike anything we know.
Teased back in December 2020, the drone is the “world’s first supersonic UAV that pushes the boundary with the state-of-the-art swarm and autonomous aerial flight logic – making it a formidable UAV.”
The combat aerial vehicle is almost like an arrow, with a bold and innovative design. The company claims that a manned combat aircraft can control multiple Arrow UCAVs, each with a different mission, equipment, and weapons set. It can be launched autonomously or controlled remotely by two ground station controllers.
Arrow UCAV features a carbon fiber monocoque, which makes it lightweight enough to fly more than 2,600 nautical miles (4,815 km) with a maximum weight of 37,038 lbs (16,800 kg). This combat drone blithely exceeds supersonic speeds by being able to reach Mach 2.1 (2,593 km/h). Designed to quickly reach a combat zone, it has more autonomy than any fighter plane anyway. Arrow is stealthy and can conduct both combat and reconnaissance operations.
“It is designed for a reduced radar cross-section and infrared signature. The carbon fiber and monocoque design endow the Arrow with outstanding strength and stiffness,” the company said in a statement.
Apparently, a single Arrow UCAV would cost between $9 million and $16 million. Thus, it “allows more airframes to be purchased and yet, have a multi-role supersonic UCAV to perform high-risk missions as it does not necessarily need to return home.”
For the moment, the drone is still only at the prototype stage with a 1:4 scale model, which should make its first laps very soon. According to a report by Flight Global, the company also reveals that it has already received 100 pre-orders for the aircraft from customers, who are primarily interested in air battles and air attacks on ground targets.