Aurora Flight Sciences’ unique Centaur Optionally Piloted Aircraft (OPA) combines
the best of manned and unmanned surveillance aircraft capabilities. Based on the
Diamond DA42 Multi-Purpose Platform (MPP) Centaur provides a versatile, flexible
Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platform with exceptional range,
high efficiency, and extremely low life cycle cost for many missions whether defense,
intelligence, law enforcement or science related.
Centaur is the ultimate ISR solution as it can be operated as either unmanned or
with pilots on board. This unique ability has many advantages. Manned operation
and civil certification allow the Centaur to be stored at any commercial or general
aviation airport worldwide and deployed through controlled airspace to remote sites
for unmanned operations without the need for large transport aircraft, ground support
equipment or personnel. As Centaur is based on the DA42, it is an excellent solution
for clandestine operations. Where extended performance is needed or where operations
are too dangerous for manned aircraft Centaur can be operated from a remote ground
control station which can conveniently ferry onboard.
The distinctive Centaur OPA (Optionally Piloted Aircraft) system is compatible with
NATO STANAG 4586, the standard for other existing unmanned systems. Centaur has
a very small footprint as compared to other ISR solutions – ground control equipment
easily fits within the existing DA42 cargo space and can be ferried to remote destinations
allowing Centaur to effectively deploy itself. Conversion from manned to unmanned
flight is accomplished by a two-man team in the field in under four hours. Control
of unmanned flight is via a proven Aurora FCS/GCS system that provides for high
levels of redundancy in line of sight (LOS) and beyond line of sight (BLOS) operations,
while still blending visually into the general aviation landscape to a casual observer
and retaining the DA42 MPP low operating costs.
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