Mobile Airborne Test Range Instrumentation and Communication System

Period of Performance: 08/13/2004 - 08/13/2006


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Aerocross Systems, Inc.
416 West Virginia Street
Mc Kinney, TX 75069
Principal Investigator


Ground/shore based Test Range instrumentation systems tracking coverage are physically and geographically constrained by line-of-sight limitations while test items continue to increase in speed and range performance. A means to extend Test Range coverage is required to support increasingly demanding test scenarios. A medium altitude platform equipped with the appropriate range instrumentation electronics can effectively perform as a relay to significantly extend coverage. Existing and legacy systems capable supporting the relay mission are/were either not cost effective, few in numbers, or are simply not maintainable due to obsolete components. These factors have contributed to their demise. A new cost effective and accessible solution is required. Recent advances in UAV and experimental aircraft technologies have contributed to the performance and cost effectiveness of medium altitude endurance airborne platforms. COTS affordable UAV autopilots and high performance homebuilt airframes can be integrated with matured airborne instrumentation electronics to realize an affordable and high performance Test Range instrumentation system. A network of multiple platforms can further enhance coverage and provide redundancy. Aerocross Systems has completed a comprehensive technology survey finding highly favorable results. The availability of an affordable all-composite high performance airframe, proven powerplant capable of extended medium altitude operations, and compact high performance telemetry tracking technology significantly contributed the feasibility of this concept. Our initial systems design effort further reinforces feasibility. Proof-of-concept prototyping is next leading to a successful demonstration of a robust operational system ready for production. With production capability of a high performance yet affordable medium altitude endurance UAV system, Aerocross Systems can offer the system as surveillance, data relay, or test platforms to government agencies including DoD, Homeland Security, NASA, NOAA, EPA, etc. Civil organizations in the security, communications, commercial aerospace, media, search and rescue, energy, and agriculture industries can also take advantage of this low cost and flexible capability. The availability of key off the shelf technology should significantly reduce time to market as well as initial investment.