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The US Air Force has released the ULTRA reconnaissance aircraft

The US Air Force has released the ULTRA reconnaissance aircraft

The U.S. Air Force has released photos of its Unmanned Long-endurance Tactical Reconnaissance Aircraft (ULTRA) reconnaissance drone. The semi-classified UAV, developed by DZYNE, is now confirmed as deployed and active.

The recent unrest in the Middle East, and particularly in the Red Sea, has become a testing ground for Western military technology, tactics, and policies. The MQ-9 Reaper UAVs, used for long-range reconnaissance, protection against terrorist attacks on ships, and other missions, have proven invaluable. Unfortunately, one hard lesson learned is that the Reaper is vulnerable. Each of these vehicles costs $30 million, making their losses to enemy fire quite tangible. After all, the Reaper was originally designed as a ground-based attack vehicle that was later adapted for reconnaissance missions.

The Air Force needed an alternative, and DZYNE Technologies Incorporated quickly provided one. DZYNE CEO Matt McCue said the company worked with the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Center for Rapid Innovation to create a drone that could get into the air cheaply, less vulnerable and quickly.

The result was the ULTRA, which was created from an existing sports aircraft model. It was converted into a military unmanned aerial vehicle using commercially available UAS technology. It is not as advanced as the Reaper, but it is much cheaper and can boast an autonomous flight time of 80 hours with a payload of over 180 kg.

Additionally, the ULTRA has improved GPS navigation and can carry a variety of electro-optical/infrared, radio frequency, and other low-cost intelligence gathering equipment. These are less expensive than on the Reaper because the ULTRA operates at lower altitudes, so commercially available sensors are perfectly acceptable.

According to the Air Force, this affordable UAV will allow more of them to be deployed in the air to cover more remote areas. The ULTRA can fly missions far from accessible airfields using point-and-click satellite control systems.

Source: newatlas