Barracuda UAV

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have become a critical part of defense capabilities. But if UAVs hope to continue to grow in popularity, they must overcome spiraling costs. When a UAV is too costly it loses one of its prime reasons for existence: expendability The key to resolving the cost issue is fairly obvious: commercial-off-the-shelf components. Proprietary hardware is simply not tenable for all the well known reasons. Fortunately, the Barracuda program in Europe has demonstrated beyond question that a cutting edge UAV platform can be deployed with COTS components. Expected to enter service in 2009, Barracuda is designed mostly for surveillance and reconnaissance. The sensor payload is extremely flexible—basically anything that can fit in the payload compartment—and again the COTS concept allows for a greater range of choices. The flight control computer and the mission management computer are based on COTS components supplied by GE Fanuc Embedded Systems. The main ‘brain’ of the UAV is the Flight Control Computer (FCC) and the Mission Management Computer (MMC), which between them control the full range of movement and all of the craft’s sensory capabilities during a mission. Even in this sensitive and complex area, COTS modules are the preferred solution, with leading COTS manufacturer, GE FANUC Embedded Systems, selected to build the MMC.