Type: multipurpose tilt-rotor UAV
Powerplant: 1 X Pratt & Whitney Canada PW200/55
First flight: 2004
The Coast Guard version is known as the TR916 Eagle Eye, and the US Marines also plan to buy eight Eagle Eyes in the TR916 Coast Guard configuration for evaluation, though a production buy would of course be optimized to Marine specifications, with a laser target designator, as well as better performance and survivability. In Coast Guard guise, Eagle Eye's tilt-wing rotors will allow it to take off vertically from a cutter in some of the worst weather the Coast Guard will fly in. It can hover to drop survival gear, fly at up to 250 mph, and land autonomously by tapping into shipboard systems for info about the pitch and roll of the deck.
The US Coast Guard aims to bring its Bell Helicopter Eagle Eye tilt rotor UAVs into initial operational service from 2007 with sense-and-avoid capabilities provided by the Telephonics RDR 1700CG X-band radar. That system is expected to be able to detect airborne objects with a radar cross-section of 1m2 (11ft2) at ranges of 9km (5km) and objects with a cross-section of 5m2 at 18.5km. Telephonics says the first production units will be available for initial integration into Eagle Eyes in 2006 and will undergo specific sense and recognise and sense-and-avoid testing in 2007. Production should proceed at a rate of about five vehicles a year, for a total of about 70. Bell also has plans to submit the Eagle Eye concept for other military programs such as the UCAR, FCS/ERMP (Extended Range Multi Purpose) and UAMC (Pioneer replacement).
Bell Helicopter, Lockheed Martin Corporation, AAI Corporation and Textron Systems Corporation have reached an agreement in principle to form the Core Team for TEAM EAGLE EYE to develop, produce and market the Eagle Eye VTUAV System. The Eagle Eye System consists of one or more Eagle Eye tiltrotor unmanned air vehicles, ground control equipment, payload (sensors, weapons and other items carried internally or externally by the air vehicle), communications, and integrated logistics support. Interestingly, projected production versions were initially known as TR911B and TR911D but these were probably changed because of the connotations behind the numbers '9-11', although the Coast Guard, following with its now standard practice of non-DoD standard designators, seems to have stuck with the designation HV-911 (for rescue VTOL, model 911).
In the summer of 2004, Bell established a relationship with Sagem in France and Rheinmetall Defense Electronics in Germany to sell variants of the Eagle Eye to European governments. Bell will provide raw airframes, the European partners will provide payloads and other gear as specified by customers, and Bell will then perform system integration. On February 9, 2006 (some sources give January 25), a new version called the TR918 Eagle Eye Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) lifted off the ground for the first time, hovered for nine minutes, executed yaw and translation manoeuvres and then landed safely. It then undertook a second flight within 30 minutes of the maiden flight's landing. There have been inquiries from various foreign governments about the Eagle Eye, and the TR918 is especially aimed at foreign markets. The Eagle Eye could also find civil applications in the form of law enforcement, news gathering and so forth.
Bell Helicopter Textron lost its TR918 Eagle Eye unmanned tiltrotor technology demonstrator in a crash at its Wrangler, Texas UAV flight test facility in April 2006, after the engine failed during low speed flight at about 300 feet of altitude. The crash did not completely destroy the aircraft and Bell engineers are salvaging parts from the aircraft for replacement aircraft. The TR918 is the commercial version of the Eagle Eye and is slightly different than the TR916, which is the military version that will be used for the Coast Guard's Deepwater fleet modernization initiative.
Population: an order for about 70 was placed
Crew/passengers: unmannedMain sources: