Mobius makes first attempt to take-off, land by itself – works!

  • Published
  • By Maj. Anthony Nicholson
  • Unmanned Ariel Vehicle Battlelab
The U.S. Air Force Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Battlelab announced that "Mobius," an unmanned aircraft system, performed two fully-independent flights including take-offs and landings at the Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz., March 1.

This is the first aircraft of its kind to be able to take-off and land by itself.

"Now that we are able to autonomously launch and recover the Mobius UAS while controlling two independent payloads, our military forces have a unique flexibility for potential operations," said the Mobius program manager Maj. Anthony Nicholson.

Mobius evolved from the manned aircraft, the Berkut, and can now carry 1,000 pounds of internally and externally stored payload.

This achievement is part of a larger initiative to demonstrate the ability to control independent payloads using secure remote data links. During the demonstration flights, Mobius worked at speeds more than 250 mph, making it one of the fastest unmanned aircraft in its class. Additionally, the Mobius can stay airborne for more than 20 hours, the equivalent of flying of non-stop from Santa Monica, Calif., to London, England.

The command and control suite and the autonomous take-off and landing capability, developed by L-3 Communications Geneva Aerospace uses commercial-off-the-shelf Global Positioning System technology for control of the aircraft. The autonomous take-off and landing capability eliminates the need for costly forward-deployed ground control stations.

Pi Research supplied the telemetry and data acquisition systems during the demonstration. These highly capable systems provide real-time updates of critical parametric data while Mobius is airborne. This partnership with Berkut Engineering and Design, Inc. was one of their initial ventures into the arena of unmanned aircraft and it has proved to be very successful.

Demonstrations of the aircraft have been planned for later this year to include payload variations and endurance testing. "With the imminent closure of the Air Force's UAV Battlelab this year, we plan to hand over additional demonstrations and operational transition of the program to another Air Force agency," said Major Nicholson.