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Norwegian Company Avion Robotic have displayed a scale model of their developmental PHOENIX heavy UAV at the Helitech/DroneX exhibition. Jan Fosen, CEO of Avion Robotic provided further details of the PHOENIX’s characteristics and the project’s development timeline.

The PHOENIX is in the heavy class of UAV, and is intended primarily for transportation. It uses a tandem rotor design, familiar to most as the rotor layout used by the CH-47 CHINOOK. When development is completed, the internal bay will be capable of accommodating four NATO standard pallets, with a payload weight limit of 1,000 kg, at an endurance of four hours. Alternatively, the UAV can carry an underslung payload of 1,400 kg, although this reduces the endurance to two hours. The maximum range is estimated at 800 km, with a cruising speed of around 64 m/s (125 knots). Fosen explained that due to operating at these ranges, the UAV control and sensor output feed are reliant on satellite communications.

The company is also developing a folding wheel load bed for simplifying the loading and offloading process from the internal bay, and the internal bay will also feature tie-down points for load fastening during transit.

Avion Robotic Product Roadmap

The PHOENIX is presently in the pre-prototype stage of its development phase. Fosen stated that under the company’s planned timetable, development of the prototype is scheduled for January 2023, with initial efforts focussed on development of the rotor system. The first flight and CS-27 certification are scheduled for 2024. The UAV is due to be ready for production in 2025.

Avion have partnered with another company to enter the PHOENIX for the Heavy Lift Challenge (HLC) Phase 2, run by the UK MoD’s Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) Future Capability Group (FCG) and the Royal Navy. HLC aims to test unmanned systems’ potential for delivering supplies and equipment to ships or personnel out at sea. The goal is to find a means of being able to autonomously transport vital supplies to combat zones at low risk to personnel.