US20080035786A1 - Expendable sonobuoy flight kit with aerodynamically assisted sonobuoy separation - Google Patents

Expendable sonobuoy flight kit with aerodynamically assisted sonobuoy separation Download PDF

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US20080035786A1
US20080035786A1 US11/782,487 US78248707A US2008035786A1 US 20080035786 A1 US20080035786 A1 US 20080035786A1 US 78248707 A US78248707 A US 78248707A US 2008035786 A1 US2008035786 A1 US 2008035786A1
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Prior art keywords
flight
sonobuoy
kit
control system
operable
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Abandoned
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US11/782,487
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Derek Bilyk
Patrick Zdunich
Marc MacMaster
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Derek Bilyk
Patrick Zdunich
Macmaster Marc
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Priority to US10/848,131 priority Critical patent/US7262395B2/en
Priority to US86559406P priority
Application filed by Derek Bilyk, Patrick Zdunich, Macmaster Marc filed Critical Derek Bilyk
Priority to US11/782,487 priority patent/US20080035786A1/en
Priority claimed from CA 2606605 external-priority patent/CA2606605A1/en
Publication of US20080035786A1 publication Critical patent/US20080035786A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F42AMMUNITION; BLASTING
    • F42BEXPLOSIVE CHARGES, e.g. FOR BLASTING, FIREWORKS, AMMUNITION
    • F42B10/00Means for influencing, e.g. improving, the aerodynamic properties of projectiles or missiles; Arrangements on projectiles or missiles for stabilising, steering, range-reducing, range-increasing or fall-retarding
    • F42B10/02Stabilising arrangements
    • F42B10/04Stabilising arrangements using fixed fins
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B63SHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; RELATED EQUIPMENT
    • B63BSHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; EQUIPMENT FOR SHIPPING
    • B63B22/00Buoys
    • B63B22/003Buoys adapted for being launched from an aircraft or water vehicle;, e.g. with brakes deployed in the water
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F42AMMUNITION; BLASTING
    • F42BEXPLOSIVE CHARGES, e.g. FOR BLASTING, FIREWORKS, AMMUNITION
    • F42B12/00Projectiles, missiles or mines characterised by the warhead, the intended effect, or the material
    • F42B12/02Projectiles, missiles or mines characterised by the warhead, the intended effect, or the material characterised by the warhead or the intended effect
    • F42B12/36Projectiles, missiles or mines characterised by the warhead, the intended effect, or the material characterised by the warhead or the intended effect for dispensing materials; for producing chemical or physical reaction; for signalling ; for transmitting information
    • F42B12/56Projectiles, missiles or mines characterised by the warhead, the intended effect, or the material characterised by the warhead or the intended effect for dispensing materials; for producing chemical or physical reaction; for signalling ; for transmitting information for dispensing discrete solid bodies
    • F42B12/58Cluster or cargo ammunition, i.e. projectiles containing one or more submissiles
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F42AMMUNITION; BLASTING
    • F42BEXPLOSIVE CHARGES, e.g. FOR BLASTING, FIREWORKS, AMMUNITION
    • F42B15/00Self-propelled projectiles or missiles, e.g. rockets; Guided missiles
    • F42B15/01Arrangements thereon for guidance or control
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F42AMMUNITION; BLASTING
    • F42BEXPLOSIVE CHARGES, e.g. FOR BLASTING, FIREWORKS, AMMUNITION
    • F42B15/00Self-propelled projectiles or missiles, e.g. rockets; Guided missiles
    • F42B15/08Self-propelled projectiles or missiles, e.g. rockets; Guided missiles for carrying measuring instruments; Arrangements for mounting sensitive cargo within a projectile; Arrangements for acoustic sensitive cargo within a projectile
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F42AMMUNITION; BLASTING
    • F42BEXPLOSIVE CHARGES, e.g. FOR BLASTING, FIREWORKS, AMMUNITION
    • F42B15/00Self-propelled projectiles or missiles, e.g. rockets; Guided missiles
    • F42B15/10Missiles having a trajectory only in the air
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F42AMMUNITION; BLASTING
    • F42BEXPLOSIVE CHARGES, e.g. FOR BLASTING, FIREWORKS, AMMUNITION
    • F42B15/00Self-propelled projectiles or missiles, e.g. rockets; Guided missiles
    • F42B15/22Missiles having a trajectory finishing below water surface
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F42AMMUNITION; BLASTING
    • F42BEXPLOSIVE CHARGES, e.g. FOR BLASTING, FIREWORKS, AMMUNITION
    • F42B15/00Self-propelled projectiles or missiles, e.g. rockets; Guided missiles
    • F42B15/36Means for interconnecting rocket-motor and body section; Multi-stage connectors; Disconnecting means

Abstract

Disclosed herein is an expendable flight kit attachable to a sonobuoy for making use of said sonobuoy as a central structural load-bearing component of a flying assembly, the kit comprising rigid aerodynamic surfaces to provide lift and stability; a propulsion system; a plurality of control surfaces; a plurality of control surface actuators operable for moving the control surfaces in response to control signals; a flight control system, the fight control system including a GPS receiver and attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being operable for receiving mission parameters including sonobuoy deployment co-ordinates, the flight control system being operable for autonomously navigating and steering the vehicle in flight using information from the GPS receiver and the attitude and airspeed sensors, the fight control system being operable for sending control signals to control the control surface actuators, the flying assembly operable to be launched from a ship; the flight control system operable for separating the sonobuoy from the flight kit while in flight at an acceptable proximity to a pre-designated set of co-ordinates, wherein after separation of the sonobuoy from the flight kit, both the sonobuoy and the flight kit fall into the water.

Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/848,131 filed May 19, 2004 entitled EXPENDABLE SONOBUOY FLIGHT KIT WITH AERODYNAMICALLY ASSISTED SONOBUOY SEPARATION. The entire subject matter of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/848,131 filed May 19, 2004 entitled EXPENDABLE SONOBUOY FLIGHT KIT WITH AERODYNAMICALLY ASSISTED SONOBUOY SEPARATION is incorporated by reference. The entire subject matter of U.S. Provisional application 60/865,594, filed Nov. 13, 2006 and entitled EXPENDABLE SONOBUOY FLIGHT KIT WITH AERODYNAMICALLY ASSISTED SONOBUOY SEPARATION is incorporated by reference. The applicants claim priority benefit of these applications.
  • STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
  • N/A
  • REFERENCE TO SEQUENCE LISTING, A TABLE, OR A COMPUTER PROGRAM LISTING COMPACT DISK APPENDIX
  • N/A
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • 1. Field of the Invention
  • The present invention relates to the deployment of sonobuoys, more particularly to enabling the deployment of sonobuoys by air from a ship without the need of a manned or recoverable unmanned aircraft, and additionally relates to the relaying of sonobuoy radio signals over the horizon.
  • 2. Description of the Prior Art
  • Sonobuoys have been used for decades as a method of tracking and detecting submarines, relying on acoustic sensors to detect submarine noises. Currently, these expendable devices are deployed from helicopters or fixed wing aircraft. Although the performance of these manned aircraft is effective, there still remains a risk to the flight crew when deploying sonobuoys in areas where an enemy threat exists at the desired sonobuoy drop location, such as over water near a hostile coastline. To address this problem, there have been experimental uses of a small number of unmanned air vehicles over the last few decades for the delivery of sonobuoys from a ship to a remote location, but these vehicles are large and expensive, and as such they must retain sufficient energy on-board after deploying the sonobuoys to return to the ship to be recovered.
  • There exist a number of patents describing alternatives to manned aircraft methods of sonobuoy deployment. In U.S. Pat. No. 6,082,675, Woodall describes both an air-launched, glider configuration, and a surface-launched drone configuration. The glider configuration in this patent requires a separate aircraft to transport and release the glider. The drone configuration described in this example is imagined to a be a complete aircraft independent of the sonobuoy, to which the sonobuoy is temporarily connected and, once the sonobuoy has been dropped at a designated site, the drone flies back to be recovered at its launch point.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 5,973,994 to Woodall describes a method of delivering a sonobuoy by making use of mortar or rocket launchers, which describes the adaptation of sonobuoys for use in ship based mortar or rocket launchers, as well as stabilizing fins for use during its arced trajectory.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 6,498,767 to Carreiro describes a method of delivering sonobuoys by adapting them to be deployed by a cruise missile, in turn requiring a large complex and expensive vehicle (the cruise missile) to deliver multiple sonobuoys. The cruise missile described in this example is considered to have turbine propulsion, as is typical of high-speed cruise missile weapons.
  • Although not directly related to sonobuoys, the prior art in guided munitions is in a similar field of invention. In U.S. Pat. No. 6,237,496, Abbot describes a GPS guided munition, wherein a tailfin assembly is retrofitted to a munition so as to facilitate guidance of the munition. In U.S. Pat. No. 5,615,846, Shmoldas describes an extendable wing for guided missiles and munitions, where a wing kit is attached to a munition to act as a range extender. In U.S. Pat. No. 6,293,202, Woodall describes an airborne deployed GPS guided torpedo.
  • From these, it can be observed that there exist patents for various means of air delivery of standard naval sonobuoys without the use of manned aircraft, but there still remains a need for a small (portable), cost effective device to remotely deploy sonobuoys. It is the object of this invention to provide a flight kit that can be retrofitted onto existing navy sonobuoys to enable them to become self-deployable, wherein the sonobuoy itself is the central structural load-bearing component of the delivery assembly.
  • BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The invention is a device used to retrofit existing, unmodified navy sonobuoys to enable them to self-deploy in an aircraft-like flight from a ship to a remote location. This invention provides a safer means of sonobuoy or other payload deployment in situations in which a significant threat to manned aircraft exists. Even if the threat to aircraft is low, this invention can inexpensively augment the coverage of existing aircraft, or free them to perform other duties. Furthermore, this invention gives sonobuoy deployment capability to ships without onboard aircraft. In addition, since a single ship may launch multiple sonobuoys in sequence and in different directions using this invention, several sonobuoys can enter the water at different locations almost simultaneously, rapidly forming an anti-submarine protection fence. Furthermore, the use of an autonomous on-board control system on the invention means that no personnel are required to pilot the invention to the target location.
  • The invention makes use of the sonobuoy itself as the central structural load-bearing member of a flying assembly. It consists of aerodynamic surfaces to provide lift and stability in flight, a propulsion system consisting of an electric motor driven propeller and single use battery, control surfaces and control surface actuators, such as servos, and an on-board control system that provides navigation and control signals to the invention. The concept is analogous to the way in which ‘smart-bombs’ may use a regular ‘dumb-bombs’ as the core of the system, but add guidance package components at the front and/or rear extremities of the weapon. In other words, the components of the flight kit are made to assemble onto an existing sonobuoy, and without the sonobuoy's presence, the invention does not constitute a flight vehicle. Desired co-ordinates for sonobuoy deployment can be entered into the on-board control system, and using a satellite navigation method (such as the use of received GPS signals for navigation), or a magnetic heading-based method, or an inertial-navigation based method, or a combination of these methods, the on-board control system provides the control signals to steer the aircraft to the target. At, or at an acceptable proximity to the sonobuoy deployment co-ordinates, the sonobuoy is separated from the other components of the flying assembly. Both the sonobuoy and the other components, which do not form a flyable assembly without the presence of the sonobuoy, fall and enter the water separately so as not to interfere with, or become entangled with, the sonobuoy. The invention's flight control system may optionally have a wireless communications link so that the sonobuoy deployment co-ordinates may be updated while the invention is in flight, or so that the invention may report the exact coordinates of a successful delivery of the sonobuoy. The invention may be stored either fully assembled onto a sonobuoy, or in a disassembled state in order to save room. In addition, the invention may make use of an aerodynamically-driven actuation method in order to assist in separating the sonobuoy from the other components of the flying assembly. Normally, the wings of a rigid-wing aircraft are connected to the fuselage of an aircraft in such a way that the lift force on the wings is resisted by a connection between the wings and the fuselage that keeps the wings in approximately the same position and orientation relative to the fuselage. However, the invention is novel in that, at the time of sonobuoy separation, the wings are permitted to rotate upward (about a hinge-axis) that is a) at or near to the point where the left wing meets the right wing, and b) oriented approximately parallel to the direction of travel, in such a way that the wing tips will come together above the sonobuoy. The invention mechanically couples this aerodynamically-driven motion to assist in separating the sonobuoy from the other flight-kit components.
  • The invention differs from the prior methods of sonobuoy delivery in that it recognizes that sonobuoys themselves are built very strongly, and as such have the ability to act as a primary load-carrying structural member of a flying device. In this way, rather than simply carrying the sonobuoy as a passenger (as has been proposed in methods in which the sonobuoy is deployed by recoverable UAVs or drones), the sonobuoy is used as the central structural load-bearing member of the complete flight kit. The result is that the assembled flight kit plus sonobuoy may be lighter and more compact than a complete sonobuoy-carrying UAV or drone built of similar materials and layout that only carries the sonobuoy and does not incorporate it as a part of the structure. This weight savings coupled with the fact that the flight kit does not need to retain enough on-board energy to return to a recovery point after dropping the sonobuoy potentially gives the invention greater than twice the range of a similarly sized and powered recoverable UAV. The invention utilizes an electric motor and single use battery. This makes for simple, quiet, reliable, push-button operation and removes the need for starting equipment, fuel and lubrication that are required for fuel burning engines.
  • The invention is nominally assembled onto a sonobuoy, however it may be assembled onto any other useful item that is constructed so as to provide a structural core in the same way that the sonobuoy does. In order for this other item to be used, it would need to be manufactured so that it is externally approximately the same size and shape as a sonobuoy, and would need to be structurally capable of acting as the central load-bearing component of the assembly in the same way that the sonobuoy does. For example, it may be advantageous to package a VHF radio relay into a sonobuoy-like package such that the invention may be used to carry aloft a means of relaying over-the-horizon the signals that are transmitted by a sonobuoy that had been deployed by another flight kit. Similarly, chemical or biological warfare sensors may be packaged in this way.
  • Furthermore, if the item that replaces the sonobuoy may be made smaller than a sonobuoy, then additional batteries or fuel may also be fitted into the sonobuoy-like package, which would be especially useful if the payload is a radio relay.
  • The document Unsolicited Sonobuoy Proposal (Advanced Subsonics Document #10071) is copied in Appendix C of the above mentioned provisional application 60/865,594, filed Nov. 13, 2006 and entitled EXPENDABLE SONOBUOY FLIGHT KIT WITH AERODYNAMICALLY ASSISTED SONOBUOY SEPARATION, the entire subject matter of which is incorporated herein by reference.
  • In an alternative embodiment, the present invention provides an expendable flight kit attachable to a sonobuoy for making use of said sonobuoy as a central structural load-bearing component of a flying assembly, the kit comprising rigid aerodynamic surfaces to provide lift and stability; a propulsion system; a plurality of control surfaces; a plurality of control surface actuators operable for moving the control surfaces in response to control signals; a flight control system, the fight control system including a GPS receiver and attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being operable for receiving mission parameters including sonobuoy deployment co-ordinates, the flight control system being operable for autonomously navigating and steering the vehicle in flight using information from the GPS receiver and the attitude and airspeed sensors, the fight control system being operable for sending control signals to control the control surface actuators, the flying assembly operable to be launched from a ship; the flight control system operable for separating the sonobuoy from the flight kit while in flight at an acceptable proximity to a pre-designated set of co-ordinates, wherein after separation of the sonobuoy from the flight kit, both the sonobuoy and the flight kit fall into the water.
  • Sonobuoys are pictured in this US Navy website: http://www.navy.mil/view_single.asp?id=32116 the entire subject matter of which is incorporated herein by reference. This page is also reproduced in Appendix A of the above mentioned provisional application 60/865,594, filed Nov. 13, 2006 and entitled EXPENDABLE SONOBUOY FLIGHT KIT WITH AERODYNAMICALLY ASSISTED SONOBUOY SEPARATION.
  • Flying assemblies as described herein may be launched from ships or other vehicles or other launch sites including land, both mobile and permanent, using a number of different launch arrangements, without departing from the spirit of the invention. For instance, the flying assemblies may be launched by pneumatically driven catapults, steam driven catapults, hydraulically driven catapults, rocket-assisted take-off, acceleration to flight speed using an explosive charge, explosive or pneumatic acceleration from a canister or launching tube, hand-launch of the vehicle by a human, bungee launch (which may also been called elastomer-assisted launch), acceleration into flight using the thrust of a propeller or rotor, whether along a runway or vertically. Other methods may also be used that are able to deliver the flying assembly to a suitable combination of altitude and velocity such that, with only the components that form parts of the flying assembly, the flight vehicle is able to maintain itself in flight suitably to be able to perform all of its post-launch actions, including flight for a suitably long period to perform its mission, and subsequent termination of flight at a chosen location. Two examples of a pneumatically driven catapult system, which may be used aboard ship, or from a fixed location on land, or from a moving location, are the MC01515L and the MC2555 which are manufactured by ROBONIC LTD OY of TAMPERE, FINLAND. Examples of rocket motors which may be used for a rocket-assisted take-off of a flight vehicle are motors of the J-motor series and L-motor series of HYPERTEK motors made by CESARONI TECHNOLOGY INCORPORATED of GORMLEY, ONTARIO, CANADA. For an example of a mode of launch wherein the flying assembly may accelerate into flight using the thrust of a propeller or rotor, some types of highly aerobatic model aircraft, including some large model aircraft, including some electrically powered variants, produce sufficient propeller thrust to be able to hover with the nose pointed approximately upward, and also to accelerate upward from this condition. For such model aircraft, this may be used as a method of launch, wherein the model aircraft is able to accelerate from a non-flying condition to a flying condition with no requirement of a runway. Hence, such a launch method requires no special fixture or component to enable launching, either on the flying assembly or at the launching location, and may be performed from a ship, or from land, or from a moving or stationary location or platform. Without limitation, some examples of the physical qualities of a model aircraft that may be able to hover in this way are found described in “Aerobatic Platforms for Hovering MAVs” by Ames, R., Wong, O., and Narayanan, K., in the proceedings of the conference “Fixed, Flapping and Rotary Wing Vehicles at Very Low Reynolds Number”, Mueller, T. ed. Jun. 5-7, 2000—the entire subject matter of which is incorporated by reference. This paper is also copied in Appendix B, of the above mentioned provisional application 60/865,594, filed Nov. 13, 2006 and entitled EXPENDABLE SONOBUOY FLIGHT KIT WITH AERODYNAMICALLY ASSISTED SONOBUOY SEPARATION. Interestingly, the majority of the acrobatic maneuvers in which this type of hover-flight capability are used are by model aircraft pilots may be very challenging. However, for the case of using such capability for launching and not aerobatics, control of the flying assembly during the launch is within the control abilities of some available electronic flight control systems. An example of the bungee launch, which may be called elastomer-assisted launch, is the launch method used by and offered as a part of the GRASSHOPPER UAV SYSTEM by ADVANCED SUBSONICS INC. of TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA. Such method may be used from a ship, or on land.
  • In an alternative embodiment, the flying assembly is operable to be launched from land, whether from a stationary location or from a moving location.
  • The method of attachment of the flight kit components to the sonobuoy or sonobuoy shaped object is not critical to the definition or implementation of the invention, and as such any method of attachment may be used that is able to hold the components or assemblies of the flight kit to the sonobuoy or sonobuoy shaped object such that it is able to be launched and able to remain together in flight. By way of example, one possible way to attach flight kit parts to the sonobuoy or sonobuoy-shaped object is through a sleeve that has a friction fit over the sonobuoy's case. There may be internal features which prevent relative rotation and may also be used to lock the parts together. For instance, sonobuoys may have bayonet-type connectors at one end and recesses at the other which are ideal for attaching flight kit parts. By engaging these features, a solid connection may be made without modifications to the sonobuoy. Other methods of attachment include bands which tighten around the sonobuoy or sonobuoy shaped object and thereby attach flight kit components. However, if any other method of connecting the flight kit components with the sonobuoy is used, it does not violate the spirit of the invention.
  • The particular arrangement of the aerodynamic surfaces is not critical to the successful implementation of the present invention so long as they provide the necessary lift for flight and the means to stabilize the vehicle. Therefore a number of possible arrangements of the aerodynamic surfaces are presented.
  • The invention is not limited to a particular aerodynamic configuration of flight vehicle being formed from the combination of flight kits and sonobuoys or sonobuoy-shaped objects, and any type of flight vehicle aerodynamic configuration may be used without violating the spirit of the invention. It can be seen through these examples, that many arrangements of the aerodynamic surfaces are possible to be used in this invention and as such the specific arrangement of the surfaces is not a critical enabler of the invention nor should it be considered to limit the definition of the invention, provided that the arrangement that is selected be capable to provide lift and to be either stable or stabilizable. Other arrangements of the aerodynamic surfaces may be possible, and may be available to one skilled in the art. So long as the aerodynamic surfaces provide the necessary lift and are arranged in a configuration wherein the flying assembly may be stable or stabilized in, whether actively or passively, they will satisfy their role in the invention, regardless of how they are arranged.
  • Another alternative embodiment comprises aerodynamic surfaces that are of a conventional rigid wing configuration, having a main wing with a stabilizing surface aft of it.
  • Another alternative embodiment comprises aerodynamic surfaces that are of a canard rigid wing configuration, having a main wing with a stabilizing surface ahead of it.
  • Another alternative embodiment comprises aerodynamic surfaces that are of a tandem rigid wing configuration, having two lifting surfaces of approximately equal size.
  • Another alternative embodiment comprises aerodynamic surfaces that are of a tailless rigid wing configuration, having a main wing and no additional surfaces to provide longitudinal stability.
  • Another alternative embodiment is one wherein the tailless rigid wing configuration is a rigid flying wing configuration.
  • Another alternative embodiment comprises aerodynamic surfaces of a three-surface rigid wing configuration, having a main wing with a stabilizing surface ahead of the main wing, and an additional stabilizing surface aft of the main wing.
  • Another alternative embodiment comprises aerodynamic surfaces that are of a biplane rigid wing configuration, having two wings wherein one wing is placed approximately above the other wing.
  • Another alternative embodiment comprises aerodynamic surfaces that are of a rigid diamond wing configuration, having two wings, one placed ahead of the other, wherein the tips of the forward wings are connected to the tips of the aft wing.
  • Another alternative embodiment comprises aerodynamic surfaces that are of a rigid ring wing configuration.
  • Another alternative embodiment comprises one or more rotors operable to provide the necessary lift and stability for flight. In this instance, the rotors are the aerodynamic surfaces, and the control surfaces and may also be considered to be the propeller portion of the propulsion system.
  • The propulsion system comprises an energy source, a type of motor or engine, and a means to move air or exhaust or both and thereby generate thrust. An electric motor, battery and propeller are the preferred embodiment for reasons of reliability and ease of operation, however, any means of propulsion that is operable to generate the thrust necessary to sustain flight for the duration of the desired mission may be used. The definition of the invention does not preclude the inclusion of more than one energy type within the energy source; for example it could have both batteries and fuel, within the energy source. The definition of the invention also does not preclude the possibility that the type of motor or engine is also a combination; for example in some implementation of the invention an electric motor and a rocket motor might both act in concert as a motor or engine for the invention. The definition of the invention also does not preclude there being a combination of means to move air and thereby generate thrust; for example such actions might be performed by both a propeller and exhaust.
  • In another alternative embodiment the propulsion system comprises an electric motor and an onboard source of electrical power. The onboard source of electrical power may include a battery. Alternately it may include a fuel cell, or a fuel-powered generator. In the case of the fuel-powered generator, the propulsion system further comprises a fuel tank.
  • In another embodiment the propulsion system further comprises a propeller. Alternately, it may include a fan or a ducted fan.
  • In another alternative embodiment the propulsion system comprises more than one propeller or fan or ducted fan.
  • In another alternative embodiment the propulsion system further comprises a fuel-burning engine and its associated fuel tank. The fuel-burning engine may be an internal combustion engine, or a turbine engine.
  • In another alternative embodiment the propulsion system comprises a rocket.
  • In an implementation in which a rocket may be used as a part of the propulsion system, this does not preclude any of the following: that the same rocket be used in the launch of the flying assembly, that an alternate rocket is used in the launch of the flying assembly, or that the rocket is present but not active in the launch of the flying assembly.
  • The invention may have one, or more than one, way to enter mission data such as the deployment coordinates and the desired water entry time for the sonobuoy into the vehicle's flight control system.
  • In another embodiment, the flight control system comprises a wired electrical link for transferring the mission parameters to the flight control system.
  • In another embodiment, the flight control system comprises an optical link to transfer the mission parameters to the flight control system.
  • In addition to short-distance methods of information transfer that may be used to allow the transfer of mission parameters to the flight control system before the vehicle has been launched, longer range methods may be used that would allow both the transfer of mission parameters to the flight control system either before or after launch, and would also allow further communication with the vehicle's flight control computer after the vehicle has been launched and is in flight. This may be useful for a number of reasons. For an example, it may be useful to re-task the vehicle or modify the mission in mid-flight. Another reason this may be done is to offload navigation duties from the flight vehicle's flight control system, to one located on a ship, land or aboard a manned aircraft. By doing this, it may be possible to reduce the necessary capability of the vehicle's flight control system and therefore make it less expensive. For this reason, the control system may be operable to communicate with an external control station.
  • In another embodiment the flight control system is operable to communicate using a radio link with a control station located on a ship and/or on land and/or aboard a manned aircraft.
  • Flight control systems capable of providing control signals in flight to guide the flight vehicles are also well established and are available commercially from a number of suppliers, for example those sold under the trade name PICCOLO by CLOUD CAP TECHNOLOGY INC. of HOOD RIVER, OREGON, USA. Another example is the Q5 FMS manufactured by XIPHOS TECHNOLOGIES INC. of MONTREAL, QUEBEC, CANADA. The particular suite of sensors employed in the flight control system to navigate and control flight vehicles may include additional sensor types (for example, in addition to attitude sensors and airspeed sensors and GPS receivers) or subsets of the listed sensors, or any other mixture of sensors or receivers that allow the flight control system to have sufficient information to navigate and control the flight vehicle, may be used without violating the spirit of the invention. Flight control systems may also be used that employ control or navigation methodologies or navigation computing algorithms while in flight, including both simplifying methodologies that allow a minimal set of computations or flight control system sensors to be employed, or more complex methodologies. The invention is not limiting in relation to the types of in-flight activity that may occur between the time of launching and the time at which the flight vehicles reach their deployment co-ordinates. As an example of this, if a flight control system, either independently or as directed by information contained in a radio message received from a remotely located transmitter, controls the flight vehicle to fly an indirect flight path between the launch location and the deployment location, such action does not violate the intent of the invention.
  • In another embodiment, the flight control system includes a magnetometer or magnetic compass for determining magnetic heading.
  • In another embodiment, the flight control system includes an inertial navigation system.
  • In another alternative embodiment the GPS receiver has been removed.
  • In another embodiment an alternative satellite navigation system receiver is used in addition to the GPS receiver.
  • In another embodiment the navigational information is provided to the flight control system from a ship or land or aircraft based RF transmitter.
  • Nominally the components of the flight kit assemble onto an unmodified sonobuoy. In one embodiment the sonobuoy is an unmodified naval A-size sonobuoy.
  • In another alternative embodiment the sonobuoy is a standard naval sonobuoy other than an unmodified naval A-size sonobuoy.
  • In yet another embodiment the sonobuoy is a modified sonobuoy or custom sonobuoy. In another alternative embodiment more than one sonobuoy is used as structural load-bearing components of a flying assembly.
  • Nominally, the flight kit assembles onto a sonobuoy, however, the flight kit may also be assembled onto other items that are externally approximately the same size and shape as a sonobuoy.
  • In another alternative embodiment the flight kit attaches to and makes use of an alternative sonobuoy-shaped item instead of a sonobuoy as the central structural load-bearing component of the flying assembly.
  • In relation to the listed embodiments of the invention that describe the use of a radio relay, any type of radio relay that is capable of retransmitting signals from a sonobuoy to a location over the horizon may be used without violating the spirit of the invention, provided that such radio relay is either constructed to have an outward structure that is similar to a sonobuoy (or is packaged into some portion or all of a sonobuoy-shaped container), and is able to relay the signals sent by radio from a sonobuoy to a location that is over-the-horizon from the sonobuoy. The radio relay may receive either analog or digital signals from the sonobuoy, and may transmit either analog or digital signals, and may perform any form of signal reformatting that may be useful to be performed by a relay, such as multiplexing of multiple received sonobuoy signals into one transmitted signal, or any other useful action that may be performed on the signal between reception and transmission, without violating the spirit of the invention.
  • In another alternative embodiment the alternative sonobuoy-shaped component contains a radio relay capable of re-transmitting signals from one or more sonobuoys that are in the water to a receiving site that is over-the-horizon from the sonobuoys.
  • In another alternative embodiment a portion of the alternative sonobuoy-shaped item is occupied by additional batteries or fuel.
  • One advantage of the invention is that it allows the deployment and use of sonobuoys to areas that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to use them in, such as for example areas that are determined to pose too high a hazard to personnel in manned aircraft. Examples of situations like this include areas in which a chemical attack is suspected, or areas in which a biological warfare attack is suspected, or in waters controlled by enemy forces, or in areas near coasts controlled by enemy forces. Hence, a natural component of the invention is that it may also be used in conjunction with other technologies that are useful or needed in such situations:
  • In another alternative embodiment the alternative sonobuoy-shaped item contains a chemical sensor or biological agent sensor.
  • It is also reasonable to assume that in littoral waters near enemy coasts wherein the use of sonobuoys is more risky than normal except when deployed by covert unmanned means such as this invention, there may be nearby military or intelligence-gathering personnel that can only be re-supplied by covert means, which may also be enabled through the use of this same invention:
  • In another alternative embodiment of the invention, the sonobuoy-shaped item contains supplies to support the activities of military or intelligence-gathering personnel.
  • Examples of such supplies, considering the size of a sonobuoy-shaped item, and using in these examples the size of an A-size sonobuoy, are: up to 18 kg of food (which, as an example of the utility of this amount, might support 3 soldiers for several days of normal activity), communication equipment, ammunition, weapons or explosives, medical supplies, batteries, or any other object that might reasonably be useful to personnel that are operating in a clandestine fashion in areas in which providing supplies is otherwise difficult, and which can be either packaged into an sonobuoy-shaped container, or itself built in a sonobuoy shape.
  • Further, even in instances in which the deployment of sonobuoys is not conducted, but in which there exists a capability to deploy sonobuoys or sonobuoy-shaped objects using the invention, the use the invention for the purpose of transporting objects that are otherwise unrelated to sonobuoys except that they fit in a sonobuoy-shaped container, is useful in that it provides a commonality of equipment in the form of the same flight kit being usable for more than its primary sonobuoy-related purpose.
  • In another embodiment of the invention, objects that are not sonobuoys are packaged into sonobuoy shaped containers for the purpose of transporting those objects in flight by flight kits that are capable of attaching to sonobuoys and deploying sonobuoys at a designated geographic location. In this way items including but not limited to food supplies, ammunition, rifles and/or medical supplies may be supplied to a location without endangering manned aircraft.
  • In another embodiment of the invention, objects that are not normally shaped as sonobuoys are built such that they are outwardly structurally similar to sonobuoys for the purpose of transporting those objects in flight by flight kits that are capable of attaching to sonobuoys and deploying sonobuoys at a designated geographic location.
  • The sonobuoy or sonobuoy-shaped object may be separated from the flight kit by any mechanism that is operable to be commanded by the flight control system to provide separation at the desired geographic co-ordinates. This mechanism may be a custom system, or may be similar to that described in U.S. application Ser. No. 10/848,131 or may be the explosive charge based method which is used to separate an active portion of the sonobuoy from a case portion of the sonobuoy when carried and deployed from manned aircraft such as the P-3 Orion.
  • Another alternative embodiment comprises a triggering mechanism operable under the action of aerodynamic lift loads on the wings to release the sonobuoy from the flight kit.
  • Another alternative embodiment comprises a triggering mechanism operable under the action of aerodynamic lift loads on the wings to assist in releasing the sonobuoy from the flight kit.
  • Another alternative embodiment comprises a pre-loaded spring mechanism for separating the sonobuoy from the flight kit.
  • Another alternative embodiment further comprises an active mechanism controlled by the flight control system for triggering, achieving or assisting separation of the sonobuoy from the flight kit.
  • In another alternative embodiment, there is provided a flying sonobuoy vehicle arrangement, comprising:
      • a first flying vehicle assembly including a sonobuoy, a first expendable flight kit attached to the sonobuoy, the first expendable flight kit including aerodynamic surfaces to provide lift and stability; a propulsion unit; a plurality of control surfaces; a plurality of control surface actuators capable of moving the control surfaces in response to control signals; a flight control system, the flight control system including a GPS receiver and attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being capable of receiving mission parameters including sonobuoy deployment co-ordinates, the flight control system being operable for autonomously navigating and steering the first flying vehicle using information from the GPS receiver and attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being operable for sending control signals to control the control surface actuators,
      • a second flying vehicle assembly including a sonobuoy-shaped item instead of a sonobuoy, a second expendable flight kit identical to the first expendable flight kit and attachable to the sonobuoy-shaped-item,
      • both the first flying vehicle assembly and the second flying vehicle assembly being launchable from a ship;
      • the flight control system of the first flight kit being operable for separating the first flight kit from the sonobuoy while in flight at an acceptable proximity to a pre-designated target,
      • the flight control system of the second flight kit being operable for separating the second flight kit from the sonobuoy-shaped item,
      • wherein after separation of the sonobuoy and the sonobuoy-shaped item from the corresponding first and second flight kits, both the sonobuoy, the sonobuoy-shaped item and the corresponding first and second flight kits fall into the water.
  • In an alternative embodiment of the above flying sonobuoy vehicle arrangement, the sonobuoy-shaped item includes a radio relay capable of re-transmitting signals from one or more sonobuoys that are in the water to a receiving site that is over-the-horizon from the sonobuoys.
  • In another alternative embodiment, there is provided a sonobuoy communications system, comprising:
  • a plurality of sonobuoys of the same size and shape, at least one radio relay unit, the radio relay unit having externally approximately the same size and shape as one of the sonobuoys;
  • a plurality of expendable flight kits, each attachable to a corresponding one of the sonobuoys or the at least one radio relay unit,
  • each flight kit including at least one rigid aerodynamic surface to provide lift and stability; a propulsion unit; a plurality of control surfaces; a plurality of control surface actuators capable of moving the control surfaces in response to control signals; a flight control system including attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being capable of receiving mission parameters including deployment co-ordinates, the flight control system being operable for autonomously navigating and steering the sonobuoys or the at least one radio relay unit in flight, the flight control system being operable for sending control signals to the control surface actuators for controlling the surface actuators,
  • each of the sonobuoys being arranged to be assembled with a corresponding one of the expendable flight kits to be launched as an assembly into flight from a ship, each flight control system being operable for separating each sonobuoy from the corresponding flight kit while in flight at an acceptable proximity to a corresponding target, wherein after separation both the sonobuoy and the flight kit fall into the water;
  • the at least one radio relay unit being arranged to be assembled with a corresponding one of the expendable flight kits to be launched as an assembly into flight from a ship, the corresponding flight control system being operable controlling the radio relay unit according to the deployment coordinates and the designated targets of the plurality of sonobuoys.
  • In an alternative embodiment of the above sonobuoy communications system, the radio relay unit includes additional batteries or fuel.
  • In another alternative embodiment, there is provided a flying vehicle assembly comprising a central structural load-bearing sonobuoy-shaped component, an expendable flight kit attachable to the sonobuoy-shaped component, the flight kit including aerodynamic surfaces to provide lift and stability; a propulsion system; a plurality of control surfaces; a plurality of control surface actuators capable of moving the control surfaces in response to control signals; a flight control system, the flight control system including a GPS receiver and attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being capable of receiving mission parameters including sonobuoy deployment co-ordinates, the flight control system being operable for autonomously navigating and steering the vehicle in flight using information from the GPS receiver and the attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being operable for sending control signals to control the control surface actuators, the flying vehicle assembly launchable from a ship; the flight control system operable for separating the sonobuoy-shaped component from the flight kit while in flight near a pre-designated target, wherein after separation of the sonobuoy-shaped item from the flight kit, both the sonobuoy-shaped component and the flight kit fall into a body of water.
  • In another alternative embodiment of the of the flying vehicle assembly of the previous paragraph the sonobuoy-shaped component contains a radio relay capable of re-transmitting signals from one or more sonobuoys that are in the body of water to a receiving site that is over-the-horizon from the sonobuoys.
  • In another alternative embodiment, there is provided an installation for a sonobuoy-based deployment, comprising
      • a ship;
      • first and second flying vehicle assemblies located on the ship,
      • the first flying vehicle assembly including a sonobuoy, a first expendable flight kit attached to the sonobuoy, the first expendable flight kit including aerodynamic surfaces to provide lift and stability; a propulsion unit; a plurality of control surfaces; a plurality of control surface actuators capable of moving the control surfaces in response to control signals; a flight control system, the flight control system including a GPS receiver and attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being capable of receiving mission parameters including sonobuoy deployment co-ordinates, the flight control system being operable for autonomously navigating and steering the first flying vehicle using information from the GPS receiver and attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being operable for sending control signals to control the control surface actuators,
      • the second flying vehicle assembly including a sonobuoy-shaped item instead of a sonobuoy, a second expendable flight kit identical to the first expendable flight kit and attachable to the sonobuoy-shaped-item,
      • both the first flying vehicle assembly and the second flying vehicle assembly being launchable from the ship;
      • the flight control system of the first flight kit being operable for separating the first flight kit from the sonobuoy while in flight at an acceptable proximity to a pre-designated target,
      • the flight control system of the second flight kit being operable for separating the second flight kit from the sonobuoy-shaped item,
      • wherein after separation of the sonobuoy and the sonobuoy-shaped item from the corresponding first and second flight kits, both the sonobuoy, the sonobuoy-shaped item and the corresponding first and second flight kits fall into the water.
  • In another alternative embodiment of the above sonobuoy based deployment, the sonobuoy-shaped item includes a radio relay capable of re-transmitting signals from one or more sonobuoys that are in the water to a receiving site that is over-the-horizon from the sonobuoys.
  • In another alternative embodiment, there is provided an expendable flight kit attachable to a sonobuoy for making use of said sonobuoy as a central structural load-bearing component, the kit comprising rigid aerodynamic surfaces to provide lift and stability; a propulsion system; a plurality of control surfaces; a plurality of control surface actuators operable for moving the control surfaces in response to control signals; a flight control system, the flight control system being operable for receiving mission parameters, the flight control system being operable for autonomously navigating and steering the vehicle in flight, the flight control system being operable for sending control signals to control the control surface actuators, the flying assembly vehicle operable to be launched from a ship; the flight control system operable for separating the sonobuoy from the flight kit while in flight at an acceptable proximity to a pre-designated target, wherein after separation of the sonobuoy from the flight kit, both the sonobuoy and the flight kit fall into the water.
  • In another alternative embodiment, there is provided a flying vehicle assembly comprising a central structural load-bearing sonobuoy-shaped component, the central structural load-bearing sonobuoy-shaped component containing a radio relay, a chemical sensor, a biological warfare sensor or a sonobuoy, an expendable flight kit attachable to the sonobuoy-shaped component, the flight kit including aerodynamic surfaces to provide lift and stability; a propulsion system; a plurality of control surfaces; a plurality of control surface actuators capable of moving the control surfaces in response to control signals; a flight control system, the flight control system including a GPS receiver and attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being capable of receiving mission parameters including sonobuoy deployment co-ordinates, the flight control system being operable for autonomously navigating and steering the vehicle in flight using information from the GPS receiver and the attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being operable for sending control signals to control the control surface actuators, the flying vehicle assembly launchable from a ship; the flight control system operable for separating the sonobuoy-shaped component from the flight kit while in flight near a pre-designated target, wherein after separation of the sonobuoy-shaped component from the flight kit, both the sonobuoy-shaped component and the flight kit fall into a body of water.
  • In another alternative embodiment, there is provided a flying sonobuoy vehicle assembly comprising a sonobuoy, an expendable flight kit attachable to the sonobuoy, the kit including at least a pair of rigid aerodynamic surfaces to provide lift and stability; a propulsion unit; a plurality of control surfaces; a plurality of control surface actuators capable of moving the control surfaces in response to control signals; a flight control system, the flight control system including attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being capable of receiving mission parameters including sonobuoy deployment co-ordinates, the flight control system being operable for autonomously navigating and steering the vehicle in flight using information from a GPS receiver, the flight control system being operable for sending control signals to control the surface actuators; the flying vehicle assembly launchable from a ship; the flight control system operable for separating the sonobuoy from the flight kit while in flight at an acceptable proximity to a pre-designated set of geographic co-ordinates, wherein after separation of the sonobuoy from the flight kit, both the sonobuoy and the flight kit fall into the water.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a top plan view of the preferred embodiment of the sonobuoy flight kit.
  • FIG. 3 is an isometric view of a preferred embodiment of the sonobuoy flight kit with wings in flight configuration.
  • FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the independently falling sonobuoy flight kit components as they would appear shortly after the sonobuoy separation had taken place.
  • FIG. 4 shows an embodiment of the flight kit and a sonobuoy shaped object.
  • FIG. 5 shows an embodiment of the flying vehicle assembly with internal components
  • FIG. 6 shows an embodiment of the flying vehicle assembly with internal components and alternative propulsion systems.
  • FIG. 7 shows an embodiment of the flight kit and a sonobuoy shaped object.
  • FIG. 8 shows a sonobuoy based deployment.
  • FIG. 9 shows an embodiment of attachment methods of the flight kit to the sonobuoy.
  • FIG. 10 shows a conventional layout of the aerodynamic surfaces.
  • FIG. 11 shows a canard layout of the aerodynamic surfaces.
  • FIG. 12 shows a tandem wing arrangement of the aerodynamic surfaces.
  • FIG. 13 shows a tailless arrangement of the aerodynamic surfaces.
  • FIG. 14 shows an arrangement of the aerodynamic surfaces called a flying wing.
  • FIG. 15 shows a three-surface arrangement of the aerodynamic surfaces.
  • FIG. 16 shows a biplane arrangement of the aerodynamic surfaces.
  • FIG. 17 shows a diamond wing arrangement of the aerodynamic surfaces.
  • FIG. 18 shows a ring-wing arrangement of the aerodynamic surfaces.
  • FIG. 19 shows rotary wing arrangements of the aerodynamic surfaces.
  • FIG. 20 shows the flight vehicle communicating with control stations.
  • FIG. 21 shows a flight kit attached to more than one sonobuoy.
  • FIG. 22 shows sonobuoy shaped items that contain a radio relay, additional energy source, a chemical sensor and a biological agent sensor.
  • FIG. 23 shows items packaged into a sonobuoy shaped container.
  • FIG. 24 shows an item not normally the shape of a sonobuoy, manufactured in the shape of a sonobuoy.
  • FIG. 25 shows deployment of sonobuoy shaped objects over land and water.
  • FIG. 26 shows a loaded spring device for separation of sonobuoy.
  • FIG. 27 shows a device for separation of the sonobuoy.
  • FIG. 28 shows a sonobuoy based deployment.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • It should be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and the arrangement of components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or of being carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting. The use of “including,” “comprising,” or “having” and variations thereof herein is meant to encompass the items listed thereafter and equivalents thereof as well as additional items. Unless limited otherwise, the terms “connected,” “coupled,” and “mounted,” and variations thereof herein are used broadly and encompass direct and indirect connections, couplings, and mountings. In addition, the terms “connected” and “coupled” and variations thereof are not restricted to physical or mechanical connections or couplings. Furthermore, and as described in subsequent paragraphs, the specific mechanical configurations illustrated in the drawings are intended to exemplify embodiments of the invention. However, other alternative mechanical configurations are possible which are considered to be within the teachings of the instant disclosure. Furthermore, unless otherwise indicated, the term “or” is to be considered inclusive.
  • With reference to the drawings (FIGS. 1-3), the preferred embodiment of the invention (1) contains a standard Naval A-size sonobuoy (2) being the primary structural member onto which is attached the wings (3), a module forward of the sonobuoy (4) and a module aft of the sonobuoy (5). The wings (3) provide the requisite lift and through sweepback and twist also afford static stability in the usual manner for tailless designs. The invention need not be tailless but could be any aircraft configuration without violating the spirit of the invention, including a conventional tail aft design, canard design, tandem wing or joined wing design as it is not the configuration of the aerodynamic surfaces which sets this invention apart. The tailless design, however, is used as the preferred embodiment for the rest of this description. The flight control surfaces are of the standard type. While a full suite of pitch, yaw and roll controls may be used, a minimum configuration is desirable to reduce cost and weight due to fewer control actuators. In the example configuration there are only two control surfaces (6)—one at the trailing edge of each wing. These are called elevons and provide the function of both elevator (pitch control) and ailerons (roll control) Because of the dihedral in the wing, yaw is coupled with roll. For directional stability the example configuration has non-moving vertical stabilizers (7) at the wing tips.
  • The forward module (4) contains the single-use battery (8) that provides electrical energy to the invention and has a nose cone (9) that acts as an aerodynamic fairing.
  • The wings (3) are held to the sonobuoy structure by means of clamps (10). The wings, with the attached clamps are hinged at the top of the invention such that they may rotate about the hinge (11) so that the clamps encircle the sonobuoy. Extensions of the clamps fore and aft of the sonobuoy may act as flanges to clasp the forward module (4) and rear module (5). A locking device such as a pin (12) actuated by a servomotor (13) locks the clamps shut. When the locking pin is retracted, the wing lift (represented by arrows) (14) automatically deflects the wings and clamps and releases the sonobuoy (2). This is illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3. With the wings no longer locked in place, they can no longer provide the requisite lift and the other sonobuoy flight kit components fall to the earth separately from the sonobuoy.
  • The rear module contains the flight control system (15) and the motor with motor controller (16) and propeller (17). The flight control system is designed with a bare minimum of functionality to keep the invention inexpensive. The flight control system takes desired coordinates and using a satellite navigation method (such as a GPS receiver), or a magnetic heading based method, or an inertial-navigation based method, or a combination of these methods, steers the aircraft to the target. Control actuators (18) are servomotors which take commands from the flight control system and move to actuate a control surface (6) and are located in the wings near the control surfaces. The electric motor and its controller (16) are located at the very back of the invention and drive a propeller (17) to provide thrust. This electric propulsion system is preferred because of its reliability and ease of operation.
  • Referring to FIGS. 4, 5, 6 and 8, there is provided an expendable flight kit 21 attachable to a sonobuoy 20 for making use of said sonobuoy as a central structural load-bearing component of a flying assembly, the kit comprising rigid aerodynamic surfaces 25 to provide lift and stability; a propulsion system 26; a plurality of control surfaces 27; a plurality of control surface actuators 28 operable for moving the control surfaces in response to control signals; a flight control system 30, the fight control system including a GPS receiver 31, and attitude and airspeed sensors 32, the flight control system being operable for receiving mission parameters including sonobuoy deployment co-ordinates, the flight control system being operable for autonomously navigating and steering the vehicle in flight using information from the GPS receiver and the attitude and airspeed sensors, the fight control system being operable for sending control signals to control the control surface actuators, the flying assembly operable to be launched from a ship 110; the flight control system operable for separating the sonobuoy from the flight kit while in flight at an acceptable proximity to a pre-designated set of co-ordinates, wherein after separation of the sonobuoy from the flight kit, both the sonobuoy and the flight kit fall into the water. In addition to its use with the sonobuoy 20, the kit may also be employed on a sonobuoy shaped item which is externally approximately the same size and shape as a sonobuoy.
  • In another embodiment of the invention, referring to FIG. 7, there is provided an expendable flight kit 42 attachable to a sonobuoy 20, the kit comprising rigid aerodynamic surfaces to provide lift and stability; a propulsion system; a plurality of control surfaces; a plurality of control surface actuators operable for moving the control surfaces in response to control signals; a flight control system, the fight control system including a GPS receiver, and attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being operable for receiving mission parameters including sonobuoy deployment co-ordinates, the flight control system being operable for autonomously navigating and steeling the vehicle in flight using information from the GPS receiver and the attitude and airspeed sensors, the fight control system being operable for sending control signals to control the control surface actuators, the flying assembly operable to be launched from a ship, the flight control system operable for separating the sonobuoy from the flight kit while in flight at an acceptable proximity to a pre-designated set of co-ordinates, wherein after separation of the sonobuoy from the flight kit, both the sonobuoy and the flight kit fall into the water. In addition to its use with the sonobuoy 20, the kit may also be employed on a sonobuoy shaped item which is externally approximately the same size and shape as a sonobuoy.
  • In an alternate embodiment as shown in FIG. 8, the flight kit forms a flying vehicle assembly 117 is operable to be launched from land 118, or water based craft 110.
  • The particular method of attachment of the flight kit components to the sonobuoy or sonobuoy shaped object is not critical to the definition or implementation of the invention. By way of example, FIG. 9 shows one possible way to attach flight kit parts such as the aerodynamic surfaces 25 to the sonobuoy or sonobuoy-shaped object 20 is through a sleeve 35 that has a friction fit over the sonobuoy's case. There may be additional internal features which prevent relative rotation and may also be used to lock the parts together. For instance, sonobuoys may have a bayonet-type mechanical connector 36 at one end which is ideal for attaching flight kit parts. By engaging this feature with a similar but opposite feature 38, a solid connection may be made without modifications to the sonobuoy. Similarly, sonobuoys may have recesses 37 at the other end. By engaging these recesses with similar opposite bosses 39, a solid connection may be made without modifications to the sonobuoy. Other methods of attachment include bands 44 which tighten around the sonobuoy or sonobuoy shaped object 20 and thereby attach flight kit components. However, if any other method of connecting the flight kit components with the sonobuoy is used, it does not violate the spirit of the invention.
  • The expendable flight kit may include any of aerodynamic surface arrangements, provided that such arrangement is able to provide sufficient lift at the flight speed to sustain the flying assembly in flight, and the flying assembly is stable or stabilizable in flight.
  • In one example as shown in FIG. 10, the aerodynamic surfaces are of a conventional rigid wing configuration, having a main wing 45 with a stabilizing surface 46 aft of it.
  • In another example, as shown in FIG. 11, the aerodynamic surfaces are of a canard rigid wing configuration, having a main wing 48 with a stabilizing surface 47 ahead of it.
  • In an alternative example, as shown in FIG. 12, the aerodynamic surfaces are of a tandem rigid wing configuration, having two lifting surfaces 49 of approximately equal size.
  • In another alternative example, as shown in FIG. 13, the aerodynamic surfaces are of a tailless rigid wing configuration, having a main wing 50 and no additional surfaces to provide longitudinal stability.
  • In another alternative example, as shown in FIG. 14, the tailless rigid wing configuration is a rigid flying wing 51 configuration. In an alternate embodiment of the tailless configuration the sonobuoy 20 may be carried within the wing in the spanwise direction.
  • In an alternative example, as shown in FIG. 15, the aerodynamic surfaces are of a three-surface rigid wing configuration, having a main wing 52 with a stabilizing surface 53 ahead of the main wing, and an additional stabilizing surface 54 aft of the main wing.
  • In an alternative example, as shown in FIG. 16, the aerodynamic surfaces are of a biplane rigid wing configuration, having two wings wherein one wing 55 is placed approximately above the other wing 56.
  • In an alternative example, as shown in FIG. 17, the aerodynamic surfaces are of a rigid diamond wing configuration, having two wings, one placed ahead of the other, wherein the tips of the forward wings 57 are connected to the tips of the aft wing 58.
  • In still an alternative example, as shown in FIG. 18, the aerodynamic surfaces are of a rigid ring wing 59 configuration.
  • In still an alternative example, as shown in FIG. 19, one or more rotors provide all or nearly all of the necessary lift. In the case where there are two main rotors 60, they may rotate counter to each other to cancel torque. In the case where there is a single main rotor 61, a smaller secondary rotor 62 may be used to counteract the torque of the first rotor as in a conventional helicopter.
  • In FIG. 5 are pictured a forward module 35 and an aft module 36. These modules contain all internal elements including the control system 30 and the propulsion system. In FIG. 5 the propulsion system components are shown in the forward module 35 and the control system in the aft module 36 though this division is not critical to the invention. Any arrangement of the internal components may be made to work and their precise location is not critical. In an alternate embodiment, the flight control system and the components of the propulsion system may be all located within either the forward or aft module as shown in FIG. 6.
  • The propulsion system comprises an energy source, a type of motor or engine, and a means to move air or exhaust or both and thereby generate thrust. An electric motor, battery and propeller are the preferred embodiment for reasons of reliability and ease of operation, however, any means of propulsion that is operable to generate the thrust necessary to sustain flight for the duration of the desired mission may be used.
  • In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 6, the propulsion system 26 comprises an electric motor 65 and an onboard source of electrical power 66. The onboard source of electrical power may include a battery 67. Alternately it may include a fuel cell 68, or a fuel-powered generator 69. In the case of the fuel-powered generator, the propulsion system further comprises a fuel tank 70.
  • Also shown in FIG. 6 is a propeller 71, though as shown in FIG. 6, a fan 72 or a ducted fan 73 may be used. Multiple propellers, fans or ducted fans are also possible.
  • Other propulsion systems may be used as desired, as shown in FIG. 6, including a fuel-burning engine 74 and its associated fuel tank 75. The fuel burning engine may be an internal combustion engine or a turbine engine.
  • Yet another possible type of propulsion system includes a rocket 76 as shown in FIG. 6.
  • In reference to the described propulsion system, the invention does not preclude that the propulsion system include more than one energy type within the energy source; for example the propulsion system 26 could be constructed to contain both batteries 67 and fuel 70. The definition of the invention also does not preclude the possibility that the type of motor or engine is also a combination; for example the propulsion system 26 could be constructed in some implementation of the invention to include both an electric motor and a rocket motor that would act in concert as a motor or engine for the invention. The definition of the invention also does not preclude there being a combination of means to generate thrust; for example such actions might be performed by both a propeller and exhaust.
  • Referring to FIGS. 5, 6 and 20 the flight control system 30 is operable to communicate using a radio link 33 with a control station located on a ship 81, on land 82 or aboard a manned aircraft 83.
  • As can be seen in FIGS. 5 and 6 the flight control system 30 may include a wired electrical link 41 for transferring the mission parameters to the flight control system. If desired, other communication links or paths may be used in addition to or in place of the wired electrical link, such as wireless radio 33 and/or optical links 34
  • In the alternate examples as shown in FIGS. 5 and 6 the flight control system 30 may include a magnetometer or magnetic compass 84 for determining magnetic heading.
  • In the alternate examples as shown in FIGS. 5 and 6 the flight control system may include an inertial navigation system 85.
  • In an alternate example, the GPS receiver 31 of FIGS. 5 and 6 may be removed.
  • FIGS. 5 and 6 show an alternative satellite navigation system receiver 86 used in addition to the GPS receiver.
  • Referring to FIG. 20, navigational information is provided to the flight control system 30 from a ship 81 or land 82 or aircraft 83 based RF transmitter.
  • In alternate embodiments, the sonobuoy 20 shown in the figures may be an unmodified naval A-size sonobuoy or a standard naval sonobuoy other than an unmodified naval A-size sonobuoy, or a modified sonobuoy or custom sonobuoy.
  • In an alternate embodiment shown in FIG. 21, more than one sonobuoy 20 is used as structural load-bearing components of a flying assembly.
  • Referring to FIGS. 4 and 5 and 6 and 8, in an alternate embodiment the flight kit attaches to and makes use of an alternative sonobuoy-shaped item instead of a sonobuoy as the central structural load-bearing component of the flying assembly. FIGS. 22 and 8 shows the alternative sonobuoy-shaped component 20 may contain a radio relay 87 capable of re-transmitting signals 114 from one or more sonobuoys 89 that are in the water to a receiving site (110 and/or 90 and/or 115 and or 116) that is over-the-horizon from the sonobuoys. In addition, FIG. 22 shows that a portion of the alternative sonobuoy-shaped item may be occupied by additional batteries 91 or fuel 92.
  • In an alternate embodiment also shown in FIG. 22, the alternative sonobuoy-shaped item 20 contains a chemical sensor 93 or biological agent sensor 94.
  • In another embodiment of the invention, objects that are not sonobuoys 95 are packaged into sonobuoy shaped containers, as shown in FIG. 23, for the purpose of transporting those objects in flight by flight kits that are capable of attaching to sonobuoys and deploying sonobuoys at a designated geographic location. In this way items including but not limited to food supplies 96, ammunition 97, rifles 98 and/or medical supplies 99 may be packaged into sonobuoy shaped containers 20 and supplied to a location without endangering manned aircraft.
  • In another embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 24, objects 102 that are not normally shaped as sonobuoys are built, assembled, configured and/or manufactured such that they are outwardly structurally similar to sonobuoys 20 for the purpose of transporting those objects in flight by flight kits that are capable of attaching to sonobuoys and deploying sonobuoys at a designated geographic location.
  • In the cases where other non-sonobuoy items are to be packaged into sonobuoy shaped containers, as in FIG. 23 or are to be manufactured such that they are outwardly structurally similar to sonobuoys for the purpose of transporting those objects in flight by flight kits as in FIG. 24, the flying vehicle assembly may be operable to separate the sonobuoy shaped item from the flight kit while in flight at an acceptable proximity to a pre-designated set of co-ordinates, that may be over both land 100, or water 101.
  • In an alternate embodiment shown in FIG. 26 the flight kit further comprises a pre-loaded spring mechanism 105 for separating the sonobuoy from the flight kit.
  • In an alternate embodiment shown in FIG. 27 the flight kit further comprises an active mechanism 106 controlled by the flight control system for triggering, achieving or assisting separation of the sonobuoy 20 from the flight kit.
  • Referring to FIGS. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 28, there is provided an installation for a sonobuoy-based deployment. The deployment includes a ship 110. A number of first 111 and second 112 flying vehicle assemblies are located on the ship. This number may include a single vehicle assembly and more than one vehicle assembly, as need be, and as will become apparent below.
  • Each first flying vehicle assembly 111 includes a sonobuoy. A first expendable flight kit (21 or 42 or 43) is attached to the sonobuoy 20. The first expendable flight kit includes aerodynamic surfaces 25 to provide lift and stability; a propulsion unit 26; a plurality of control surfaces 27; a plurality of control surface actuators 28 capable of moving the control surfaces in response to control signals; a flight control system 30, the flight control system including a GPS receiver 31 and attitude and airspeed sensors 32, the flight control system being capable of receiving mission parameters including sonobuoy deployment co-ordinates, the flight control system being operable for autonomously navigating and steering the first flying vehicle using information from the GPS receiver and attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being operable for sending control signals to control the control surface actuators,
      • the second flying vehicle assembly 112 including a sonobuoy-shaped item 20 instead of a sonobuoy, a second expendable flight kit (21 or 42 or 43) identical to the first expendable flight kit and attachable to the sonobuoy-shaped-item,
      • both the first flying vehicle assembly 111 and the second flying vehicle assembly 112 being launchable from the ship 110;
      • the flight control system 30 of the first flight kit being operable for separating the first flight kit from the sonobuoy 20 while in flight at an acceptable proximity to a pre-designated target 113,
      • the flight control system 30 of the second flight kit being operable for separating the second flight kit from the sonobuoy-shaped item 20,
      • wherein after separation of the sonobuoy 20 and the sonobuoy-shaped item 20 from the corresponding first and second flight kits, both the sonobuoy, the sonobuoy-shaped item and the corresponding first and second flight kits fall into the water.
  • In this case, the sonobuoy-shaped item 20 includes a radio relay 87 capable of re-transmitting signals 114 from one or more sonobuoys 89 that are in the water to a receiving site (110 and/or 90 and/or 115 and or 116) that is over-the-horizon from the sonobuoys.
  • The entire subject matter of each and every reference, document, website, patent and patent application identified hereinabove is incorporated herein by reference.
  • Although the invention has been described in connection with a preferred embodiment, it should be understood that various modifications, additions and alterations may be made to the invention by one skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims.

Claims (66)

1. An expendable flight kit attachable to a sonobuoy for making use of said sonobuoy as a central structural load-bearing component of a flying assembly, the kit comprising rigid aerodynamic surfaces to provide lift and stability; a propulsion system; a plurality of control surfaces; a plurality of control surface actuators operable for moving the control surfaces in response to control signals; a flight control system, the fight control system including a GPS receiver and attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being operable for receiving mission parameters including sonobuoy deployment co-ordinates, the flight control system being operable for autonomously navigating and steering the vehicle in flight using information from the GPS receiver and the attitude and airspeed sensors, the fight control system being operable for sending control signals to control the control surface actuators, the flying assembly operable to be launched from a ship; the flight control system operable for separating the sonobuoy from the flight kit while in flight at an acceptable proximity to a pre-designated set of co-ordinates, wherein after separation of the sonobuoy from the flight kit, both the sonobuoy and the flight kit fall into the water.
2. The flight kit recited in claim 1 wherein the aerodynamic surfaces are of a conventional rigid wing configuration, having a main wing with a stabilizing surface aft of it.
3. The flight kit recited in claim 1 wherein the aerodynamic surfaces are of a canard rigid wing configuration, having a main wing with a stabilizing surface ahead of it.
4. The flight kit recited in claim 1 wherein the aerodynamic surfaces are of a tandem rigid wing configuration, having two lifting surfaces of approximately equal size.
5. The flight kit recited in claim 1 wherein the aerodynamic surfaces are of a tailless rigid wing configuration, having a main wing and no additional surfaces to provide longitudinal stability.
6. The flight kit recited in claim 5 wherein the tailless rigid wing configuration is a rigid flying wing configuration.
7. The flight kit recited in claim 1 wherein the aerodynamic surfaces are of a three-surface rigid wing configuration, having a main wing with a stabilizing surface ahead of the main wing, and an additional stabilizing surface aft of the main wing.
8. The flight kit recited in claim 1 wherein the aerodynamic surfaces are of a biplane rigid wing configuration, having two wings wherein one wing is placed approximately above the other wing.
9. The flight kit recited in claim 1 wherein the aerodynamic surfaces are of a rigid diamond wing configuration, having two wings, one placed ahead of the other, wherein the tips of the forward wings are connected to the tips of the aft wing.
10. The flight kit recited in claim 1 wherein the aerodynamic surfaces are of a rigid ring wing configuration.
11. The flight kit recited in claim 1 wherein the propulsion system includes an electric motor and an onboard source of electrical power.
12. The flight kit recited in claim 11 wherein the onboard source of electrical power includes a battery.
13. The flight kit recited in claim 11 wherein the onboard source of electrical power includes a fuel cell.
14. The flight kit recited in claim 11 wherein onboard source of electrical power is a fuel-powered generator.
15. The flight kit recited in claim 1 wherein the propulsion system includes a propeller, a fan or a ducted fan.
16. The flight kit recited in claim 1 wherein the propulsion system includes more than one propeller or fan or ducted fan.
17. The flight kit recited in claim 1 wherein the propulsion system includes a fuel-burning engine and its associated fuel tank.
18. The flight kit recited in claim 17 wherein the fuel-burning engine is an internal combustion engine.
19. The flight kit recited in claim 17 wherein the fuel-burning engine is a turbine engine.
20. The flight kit recited in claim 1 wherein the propulsion system includes a rocket.
21. The flight kit recited in claim 1 wherein the flight control system is operable to communicate using a radio link with a control station located on a ship.
22. The flight kit recited in claim 1 wherein the flight control system is operable to communicate using a radio link with a control station located on land.
23. The flight kit recited in claim 1 wherein the flight control system is operable to communicate using a radio link with a control station located aboard a manned aircraft.
24. The flight kit recited in claim 1 further comprising a wired electrical link for transferring the mission parameters to the flight control system.
25. The flight kit recited in claim 1 further comprising an optical link to transfer the mission parameters to the flight control system.
26. The flight kit recited in claim 1 wherein the flight control system includes a magnetometer or magnetic compass for determining magnetic heading.
27. The flight kit recited in claim 1 wherein the flight control system includes an inertial navigation system.
28. The flight kit recited in claim 1 wherein the GPS receiver has been removed.
29. The flight kit recited in claim 1 wherein an alternative satellite navigation system receiver is used in addition to the GPS receiver.
30. The flight kit recited in claim 1 wherein navigational information is provided to the flight control system from a ship or land or aircraft based RF transmitter.
31. The flight kit recited in claim 1 wherein the sonobuoy is an unmodified naval A-size sonobuoy.
32. The flight kit recited in claim 1 wherein the sonobuoy is a standard naval sonobuoy other than an unmodified naval A-size sonobuoy.
33. The flight kit recited in claim 1 wherein the sonobuoy is a modified sonobuoy or custom sonobuoy.
34. The flight kit recited in claim 1 wherein more than one sonobuoy is used as structural load-bearing components of a flying assembly.
35. The flight kit recited in claim 1 wherein the flight kit attaches to and makes use of an alternative sonobuoy-shaped item instead of a sonobuoy as the central structural load-bearing component of the flying assembly.
36. The flight kit recited in claim 35 wherein the alternative sonobuoy-shaped component contains a radio relay capable of re-transmitting signals from one or more sonobuoys that are in the water to a receiving site that is over-the-horizon from the sonobuoys.
37. The flight kit recited in claim 35 wherein a portion of the alternative sonobuoy-shaped item is occupied by additional batteries or fuel.
38. The flight kit recited in claim 35 wherein the alternative sonobuoy-shaped item contains a chemical sensor or biological agent sensor.
39. The flight kit recited in claim 1 further comprising a triggering mechanism operable under the action of aerodynamic lift loads on the wings to release the sonobuoy from the flight kit.
40. The flight kit recited in claim 1, further comprising a triggering mechanism operable under the action of aerodynamic lift loads on the wings to assist in releasing the sonobuoy from the flight kit.
41. The flight kit recited in claim 1 further comprising a pre-loaded spring mechanism for separating the sonobuoy from the flight kit.
42. The flight kit recited in claim 1 further comprising an active mechanism controlled by the flight control system for triggering, achieving or assisting separation of the sonobuoy from the flight kit.
43. An expendable flight kit, which attaches to an unmodified A-size naval sonobuoy and makes use of said unmodified A-size naval sonobuoy as the central structural load-bearing component of a flying assembly, comprising: aerodynamic surfaces for lift and stability, said aerodynamic surfaces being in a rigid-winged tailless configuration; a method of propulsion that includes an electric motor, a battery and a propeller; a plurality of control surfaces; a plurality of control actuators capable of moving control surfaces in response to control signals, said control actuators consisting of servomotors; a flight control system capable of receiving mission parameters, including sonobuoy deployment co-ordinates, through a wireless link and autonomously navigating and steering the vehicle in flight using information from a GPS receiver and attitude sensors and airspeed sensors, and capable of sending control signals to control surfaces actuators; a method for said flying assembly to be launched from a ship; a method of separating the sonobuoy from the flight kit components while in flight at an acceptable proximity to a pre-designated set of geographic co-ordinates, said method of separating the sonobuoy from the flight kit including the use of aerodynamic lift loads on the wings to release the sonobuoy from the other components; and wherein after separation of the sonobuoy from the flight kit, both the sonobuoy and the flight kit components fall into the water.
44. The flight kit as recited in claim 43, additionally including a method for said flying assembly to be launched from land.
45. The flight kit as recited in claim 43, additionally including a method for said flying assembly to be launched from an aircraft.
46. The flight kit recited in claim 43 wherein the mission parameters may be transferred to the flight control system over a wired electrical link.
47. An expendable flight kit, which attaches to a naval sonobuoy and makes use of said naval sonobuoy as a structural component of a flying assembly, comprising: rigid aerodynamic surfaces for lift and stability; a method of propulsion that includes an electric motor, a battery and a propeller; a plurality of control surfaces; a plurality of control actuators capable of moving control surfaces in response to control signals, said control actuators consisting of servomotors; a flight control system capable of receiving mission parameters, including sonobuoy deployment co-ordinates, through a wireless link and autonomously navigating and steering the vehicle in flight using information from a GPS receiver and attitude sensors and airspeed sensors, and capable of sending control signals to control surfaces actuators; and a method for said flying assembly to be launched from a ship.
48. A flying sonobuoy vehicle arrangement, comprising:
a first flying vehicle assembly including a sonobuoy, a first expendable flight kit attached to the sonobuoy, the first expendable flight kit including aerodynamic surfaces to provide lift and stability; a propulsion unit; a plurality of control surfaces; a plurality of control surface actuators capable of moving the control surfaces in response to control signals; a flight control system, the flight control system including a GPS receiver and attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being capable of receiving mission parameters including sonobuoy deployment co-ordinates, the flight control system being operable for autonomously navigating and steering the first flying vehicle using information from the GPS receiver and attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being operable for sending control signals to control the control surface actuators,
a second flying vehicle assembly including a sonobuoy-shaped item instead of a sonobuoy, a second expendable flight kit identical to the first expendable flight kit and attachable to the sonobuoy-shaped-item,
both the first flying vehicle assembly and the second flying vehicle assembly being launchable from a ship;
the flight control system of the first flight kit being operable for separating the first flight kit from the sonobuoy while in flight at an acceptable proximity to a pre-designated target,
the flight control system of the second flight kit being operable for separating the second flight kit from the sonobuoy-shaped item,
wherein after separation of the sonobuoy and the sonobuoy-shaped item from the corresponding first and second flight kits, both the sonobuoy, the sonobuoy-shaped item and the corresponding first and second flight kits fall into the water.
49. An arrangement as defined in claim 48, the sonobuoy-shaped item including a radio relay capable of re-transmitting signals from one or more sonobuoys that are in the water to a receiving site that is over-the-horizon from the sonobuoys.
50. A sonobuoy communications system, comprising:
a plurality of sonobuoys of the same size and shape, at least one radio relay unit, the radio relay unit having externally approximately the same size and shape as one of the sonobuoys;
a plurality of expendable flight kits, each attachable to a corresponding one of the sonobuoys or the at least one radio relay unit,
each flight kit including at least one rigid aerodynamic surface to provide lift and stability; a propulsion unit; a plurality of control surfaces; a plurality of control surface actuators capable of moving the control surfaces in response to control signals; a flight control system including attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being capable of receiving mission parameters including deployment co-ordinates, the flight control system being operable for autonomously navigating and steering the sonobuoys or the at least one radio relay unit in flight, the flight control system being operable for sending control signals to the control surface actuators for controlling the surface actuators,
each of the sonobuoys being arranged to be assembled with a corresponding one of the expendable flight kits to be launched as an assembly into flight from a ship, each flight control system being operable for separating each sonobuoy from the corresponding flight kit while in flight at an acceptable proximity to a corresponding target, wherein after separation both the sonobuoy and the flight kit fall into the water;
the at least one radio relay unit being arranged to be assembled with a corresponding one of the expendable flight kits to be launched as an assembly into flight from a ship, the corresponding flight control system being operable controlling the radio relay unit according to the deployment coordinates and the designated targets of the plurality of sonobuoys.
51. A system as defined in claim 50, the radio relay unit including additional batteries or fuel.
52. A flying vehicle assembly comprising a central structural load-bearing sonobuoy-shaped component, an expendable flight kit attachable to the sonobuoy-shaped component, the flight kit including aerodynamic surfaces to provide lift and stability; a propulsion system; a plurality of control surfaces; a plurality of control surface actuators capable of moving the control surfaces in response to control signals; a flight control system, the flight control system including a GPS receiver and attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being capable of receiving mission parameters including sonobuoy deployment co-ordinates, the flight control system being operable for autonomously navigating and steering the vehicle in flight using information from the GPS receiver and the attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being operable for sending control signals to control the control surface actuators, the flying vehicle assembly launchable from a ship; the flight control system operable for separating the sonobuoy-shaped component from the flight kit while in flight near a pre-designated target, wherein after separation of the sonobuoy-shaped item from the flight kit, both the sonobuoy-shaped component and the flight kit fall into a body of water.
53. A vehicle assembly as defined in claim 53, wherein the sonobuoy-shaped component contains a radio relay capable of re-transmitting signals from one or more sonobuoys that are in the body of water to a receiving site that is over-the-horizon from the sonobuoys.
54. An installation for a sonobuoy-based deployment, comprising
a ship;
first and second flying vehicle assemblies located on the ship,
the first flying vehicle assembly including a sonobuoy, a first expendable flight kit attached to the sonobuoy, the first expendable flight kit including aerodynamic surfaces to provide lift and stability; a propulsion unit; a plurality of control surfaces; a plurality of control surface actuators capable of moving the control surfaces in response to control signals; a flight control system, the flight control system including a GPS receiver and attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being capable of receiving mission parameters including sonobuoy deployment co-ordinates, the flight control system being operable for autonomously navigating and steering the first flying vehicle using information from the GPS receiver and attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being operable for sending control signals to control the control surface actuators,
the second flying vehicle assembly including a sonobuoy-shaped item instead of a sonobuoy, a second expendable flight kit identical to the first expendable flight kit and attachable to the sonobuoy-shaped-item,
both the first flying vehicle assembly and the second flying vehicle assembly being launchable from the ship;
the flight control system of the first flight kit being operable for separating the first flight kit from the sonobuoy while in flight at an acceptable proximity to a pre-designated target,
the flight control system of the second flight kit being operable for separating the second flight kit from the sonobuoy-shaped item,
wherein after separation of the sonobuoy and the sonobuoy-shaped item from the corresponding first and second flight kits, both the sonobuoy, the sonobuoy-shaped item and the corresponding first and second flight kits fall into the water.
55. An installation as defined in claim 55, the sonobuoy-shaped item including a radio relay capable of re-transmitting signals from one or more sonobuoys that are in the water to a receiving site that is over-the-horizon from the sonobuoys.
56. An expendable flight kit attachable to a sonobuoy for making use of said sonobuoy as a central structural load-bearing component, the kit comprising rigid aerodynamic surfaces to provide lift and stability; a propulsion system; a plurality of control surfaces; a plurality of control surface actuators operable for moving the control surfaces in response to control signals; a flight control system, the flight control system being operable for receiving mission parameters, the flight control system being operable for autonomously navigating and steering the vehicle in flight, the flight control system being operable for sending control signals to control the control surface actuators, the flying assembly vehicle operable to be launched from a ship; the flight control system operable for separating the sonobuoy from the flight kit while in flight at an acceptable proximity to a pre-designated target, wherein after separation of the sonobuoy from the flight kit, both the sonobuoy and the flight kit fall into the water.
57. A flying vehicle assembly comprising a central structural load-bearing sonobuoy-shaped component, the central structural load-bearing sonobuoy-shaped component containing a radio relay, a chemical sensor, a biological warfare sensor or a sonobuoy, an expendable flight kit attachable to the sonobuoy-shaped component, the flight kit including aerodynamic surfaces to provide lift and stability; a propulsion system; a plurality of control surfaces; a plurality of control surface actuators capable of moving the control surfaces in response to control signals; a flight control system, the flight control system including a GPS receiver and attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being capable of receiving mission parameters including sonobuoy deployment co-ordinates, the flight control system being operable for autonomously navigating and steering the vehicle in flight using information from the GPS receiver and the attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being operable for sending control signals to control the control surface actuators, the flying vehicle assembly launchable from a ship; the flight control system operable for separating the sonobuoy-shaped component from the flight kit while in flight near a pre-designated target, wherein after separation of the sonobuoy-shaped component from the flight kit, both the sonobuoy-shaped component and the flight kit fall into a body of water.
58. A flying sonobuoy vehicle assembly comprising a sonobuoy, an expendable flight kit attachable to the sonobuoy, the kit including at least a pair of rigid aerodynamic surfaces to provide lift and stability; a propulsion unit; a plurality of control surfaces; a plurality of control surface actuators capable of moving the control surfaces in response to control signals; a flight control system, the flight control system including attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being capable of receiving mission parameters including sonobuoy deployment co-ordinates, the flight control system being operable for autonomously navigating and steering the vehicle in flight using information from a GPS receiver, the flight control system being operable for sending control signals to control the surface actuators; the flying vehicle assembly launchable from a ship; the flight control system operable for separating the sonobuoy from the flight kit while in flight at an acceptable proximity to a pre-designated set of geographic co-ordinates, wherein after separation of the sonobuoy from the flight kit, both the sonobuoy and the flight kit fall into the water.
59. A sonobuoy communications system, comprising:
a plurality of sonobuoys of the same size and shape, at least one radio relay unit, the radio relay unit having externally approximately the same size and shape as one of the sonobuoys;
a plurality of expendable flight kits, each attachable to a corresponding one of the sonobuoys or the at least one radio relay unit,
each flight kit including at least one rigid aerodynamic surface to provide lift and stability; a propulsion unit; a plurality of control surfaces; a plurality of control surface actuators capable of moving the control surfaces in response to control signals; a flight control system including attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being capable of receiving mission parameters including deployment co-ordinates, the flight control system being operable for autonomously navigating and steering the sonobuoys or the at least one radio relay unit in flight, the flight control system being operable for sending control signals to the control surface actuators for controlling the surface actuators,
each of the sonobuoys being arranged to be assembled with a corresponding one of the expendable flight kits to be launched as an assembly into flight from a location on land, each flight control system being operable for separating each sonobuoy from the corresponding flight kit while in flight at an acceptable proximity to a corresponding target, wherein after separation both the sonobuoy and the flight kit fall into the water;
the at least one radio relay unit being arranged to be assembled with a corresponding one of the expendable flight kits to be launched as an assembly into flight from the location on land, the corresponding flight control system being operable controlling the radio relay unit according to the deployment coordinates and the designated targets of the plurality of sonobuoys.
60. The system in claim 59, wherein the location on land is a fixed location.
61. The system in claim 59, wherein the location on land is a movable location.
62. An installation for the delivery of a sonobuoy-shaped item, comprising
a ship;
first and second and flying vehicle assemblies located on the ship,
the first flying vehicle assembly including a sonobuoy, a first expendable flight kit attached to the sonobuoy, the first expendable flight kit including aerodynamic surfaces to provide lift and stability; a propulsion unit; a plurality of control surfaces; a plurality of control surface actuators capable of moving the control surfaces in response to control signals; a flight control system, the flight control system including a GPS receiver and attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being capable of receiving mission parameters including delivery co-ordinates for a sonobuoy or sonobuoy-shaped item, the flight control system being operable for autonomously navigating and steering the first flying vehicle using information from the GPS receiver and attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being operable for sending control signals to control the control surface actuators,
the second flying vehicle assembly including a sonobuoy-shaped item instead of a sonobuoy, a second expendable flight kit identical to the first expendable flight kit and attachable to the sonobuoy-shaped-item,
the first flying vehicle assembly and the second flying vehicle assembly being launchable from the ship;
the flight control system of the first flight kit being operable for separating the first flight kit from the sonobuoy while in flight at an acceptable proximity to a pre-designated location,
the second control system of the second flight kit being operable for separating the second flight kit from the sonobuoy-shaped item while in flight at an acceptable proximity to a pre-designated delivery location,
the flight control system of the second flight kit being operable for separating the second flight kit from the sonobuoy-shaped item,
wherein after separation of the second flight kit from the sonobuoy-shaped item from the corresponding second flight kits, both the sonobuoy-shaped item and the second flight kit fall.
63. The installation in claim 62, wherein the sonobuoy-shaped item is a sonobuoy-shaped container that contains one or more items that are useful for military or intelligence-gathering personnel, and are of an acceptable size to fit within a sonobuoy-shaped container.
64. The installation in claim 62, wherein the sonobuoy-shaped item is an object that is useful to military or intelligence-gathering personnel.
65. A sonobuoy communications system, comprising:
a plurality of sonobuoys of the same size and shape, at least one radio relay unit, the radio relay unit having externally approximately the same size and shape as one of the sonobuoys;
a plurality of expendable flight kits, each attachable to a corresponding one of the sonobuoys or the at least one radio relay unit,
each flight kit including at least one rigid aerodynamic surface to provide lift and stability; a propulsion unit; a plurality of control surfaces; a plurality of control surface actuators capable of moving the control surfaces in response to control signals; a flight control system, the flight control system being capable of receiving mission parameters including deployment co-ordinates, the flight control system being operable for autonomously navigating and steering the sonobuoys or the at least one radio relay unit in flight, the flight control system being operable for sending control signals to the control surface actuators for controlling the surface actuators,
each of the sonobuoys being arranged to be assembled with a corresponding one of the expendable flight kits to be launched as an assembly into flight from a ship, each flight control system being operable for separating each sonobuoy from the corresponding flight kit while in flight at an acceptable proximity to a corresponding target, wherein after separation both the sonobuoy and the flight kit fall into the water;
the at least one radio relay unit being arranged to be assembled with a corresponding one of the expendable flight kits to be launched as an assembly into flight from a ship, the corresponding flight control system being operable controlling the radio relay unit according to the deployment coordinates and the designated targets of the plurality of sonobuoys.
66. A method of enabling the delivery of an object, that would otherwise not have been shaped similar to a sonobuoy, by constructing the object such that it is outwardly structurally similar to a sonobuoy such that it is operable to be transported in flight by flight kits that are operable to attach to a sonobuoy and to deploy sonobuoys at a designated geographic location, the method including:
a step of providing a flight kit that is operable to deploy sonobuoys, the flight kit including aerodynamic surfaces to provide lift and stability; a propulsion system; a plurality of control surfaces; a plurality of control surface actuators capable of moving the control surfaces in response to control signals; a flight control system, the flight control system including a GPS receiver and attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being capable of receiving mission parameters including sonobuoy deployment co-ordinates, the flight control system being operable for autonomously navigating and steering the vehicle in flight using information from the GPS receiver and the attitude and airspeed sensors, the flight control system being operable for sending control signals to control the control surface actuators, the flying vehicle assembly launchable from a ship or from a location on land; the flight control system operable for separating the sonobuoy from the flight kit while in flight at an acceptable proximity to a pre-designated set of co-ordinates,
a step of manufacturing an object such that it is outwardly structurally similar to the sonobuoy, with approximately the same size and shape as the sonobuoy, and such that it is operable to be assembled with the flight kit in the same manner as a sonobuoy,
a subsequent step of arranging the object that is outwardly structurally similar to a sonobuoy to be assembled with the flight kit to be launched as an assembly into flight from a ship or from a location on land,
a subsequent step of launching the assembly into flight,
a subsequent step of the flight control system separating the object that is outwardly structurally similar to sonobuoy from the flight kit at an acceptable proximity to a pre-designated set of co-ordinates,
a subsequent step of the object that is outwardly structurally similar to a sonobuoy and the flight kit falling to water or to land.
US11/782,487 2004-05-19 2007-07-24 Expendable sonobuoy flight kit with aerodynamically assisted sonobuoy separation Abandoned US20080035786A1 (en)

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US86559406P true 2006-11-13 2006-11-13
US11/782,487 US20080035786A1 (en) 2004-05-19 2007-07-24 Expendable sonobuoy flight kit with aerodynamically assisted sonobuoy separation

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US11/782,487 US20080035786A1 (en) 2004-05-19 2007-07-24 Expendable sonobuoy flight kit with aerodynamically assisted sonobuoy separation
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US20100012774A1 (en) * 2006-05-15 2010-01-21 Kazak Composites, Incorporated Powered unmanned aerial vehicle
US7854410B2 (en) 2006-05-15 2010-12-21 Kazak Composites, Incorporated Powered unmanned aerial vehicle
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US20110001017A1 (en) * 2008-12-08 2011-01-06 Honeywell International Inc. Uav ducted fan swept and lean stator design
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US20110095530A1 (en) * 2009-10-26 2011-04-28 Honeywell International Inc. Tethered aquatic device with water power turbine
US20120138727A1 (en) * 2010-04-30 2012-06-07 Elbit Systems Of America, Llc Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Based Sonar Buoy
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WO2011137335A1 (en) * 2010-04-30 2011-11-03 Elbit Systems Of America, Llc Unmanned aerial vehicle based sonar buoy
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RU2576196C1 (en) * 2014-11-20 2016-02-27 Виталий Борисович Шепеленко Cassette warhead
RU2576214C1 (en) * 2014-11-20 2016-02-27 Владимир Викторович Черниченко Anti-tank mine
RU2576825C1 (en) * 2014-11-20 2016-03-10 Виталий Борисович Шепеленко Engineered ammunition with target coordinator
RU2576106C1 (en) * 2014-11-20 2016-02-27 Владимир Викторович Черниченко Self-contained warhead with the coordinator of target
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RU2628351C1 (en) * 2016-04-14 2017-08-16 Сергей Николаевич ПАВЛОВ Anti-tank mine "strekosa-m" with possibility of spatial movement with hovering and reversibility in air, reconnaissance, neutralisation, and damage of mobile armoured targets
US10423831B2 (en) 2017-09-15 2019-09-24 Honeywell International Inc. Unmanned aerial vehicle based expansion joint failure detection system
RU2684160C1 (en) * 2017-11-20 2019-04-04 Дмитрий Сергеевич Дуров Deck-based aircraft unmanned anti-submarine complex (dauac)
RU2706295C2 (en) * 2018-03-12 2019-11-15 Дмитрий Сергеевич Дуров Anti-ship missile system with flying rockets robot-carrier and method for use thereof

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