Powering Up an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

The utility of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is unquestioned. They are quickly assuming responsibility for much of the surveillance and reconnaissance work previously handled by human pilots in the armed forces. And the range of possible future applications, both in military and civilian settings, for UAVs only grows with every passing year.

So, making sure that the newest UAVs come equipped with the latest in technology, at a reasonable price tag, represents an enormous challenge for their manufacturers.

Take the case of the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk, one of the most-sophisticated UAVs in the U.S. military’s arsenal. It can fly for 28 hours without refueling over hostile territory, surveying 40,000 square miles of terrain. From a height of 60,000 feet, a Global Hawk can capture images of enemy facilities that are so clear that intelligence officials can determine the make, model and license plates of ground vehicles parked nearby. And the Global Hawk will never put the life of an American flier on the line.UAV Power Supplies

The RQ-4 is powered by an Allison Rolls-Royce AE3007H turbofan engine, providing 7,050 lbf (31.4 kN) of thrust, and carries a 1-ton (900 kg) payload of sensors and communications equipment. A conduction oil-cooled generator provides 78 kVA of 6-phase 124 Vac, 433 Hz to 580 Hz, to run the onboard electronics for its payload systems.

Behlman provides the Global Hawk team with our BL+30 electronic frequency converter (see photo) as part of the maintenance crew’s Power Cart, used to test components of the system when it is on the ground.

We’re proud to be involved in such an important effort.

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