Aurora Flight Sciences, headquartered in Manassas, VA USA, announced that the Swiss Department of Defence has become the first customer for the Centaur Optionally-Piloted Aircraft (OPA).
Using Diamond Aircraft’s DA42 MPP, Aurora began developing the Centaur in 2009, which can be operated manned as well as unmanned.
"armasuisse", an official procurement agency of the Swiss Department of Defence with its own Flight Test Center, will use the Centaur as a flying test bed for new sensors and Sense & Avoid equipment required to operate Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in the entire National Air Space (NAS). The aircraft will be based in Emmen, Switzerland, operated by armasuisse only and it will not become an operational System of the Swiss Air Force.
“Reliability, safety, efficiency, and low noise are essential features of Centaur,” said "armasuisse" program manager Roland Ledermann. “This hybrid aircraft is uniquely suited to the needs of customers who seek the advantages of a remotely piloted aircraft but must also operate in crowded skies.”
Centaur burns less than 40 pounds of jet fuel per hour, and can stay airborne for up to a day at a time. It has extensive noise suppression, making the aircraft virtually undetectable at altitudes more than 3000 feet above the ground.
Anita Lentsch, BA