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3 November 2021

ION M640x Tactical Unmanned Aerial System, USA

The ION M640x tactical unmanned aerial system (UAS) is based on its predecessor ION M440 UAS.
ION M640x is an improved version of the ION M440 UAS manufactured by Teledyne Flir. Credit: Teledyne Flir LLC.
The ION M640x UAS has a high-resolution 640x thermal imaging sensor for enhanced performance. Credit: Teledyne Flir LLC.
The ION M640x supports military surveillance missions. Credit: Teledyne Flir LLC.

ION M640x is a next-generation tactical unmanned aerial system (UAS) manufactured by Teledyne Flir, a US-based producer of thermal imaging cameras and sensors.

The new tactical quadcopter features a high-resolution infrared (IR) sensor, which provides better performance and clarity compared to that of other UAS products in the series.

The M640x UAS is based on Teledyne Flir’s ION M440 UAS, which was one of the five platforms approved by the US Department of Defense (DoD) for the Blue sUAS programme, which delivers small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) to the DoD and partners of the US federal government.

The ION M640X system can be deployed in a range of missions, including day and night intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), search and rescue operational co-ordination, infrastructure inspection, and situational awareness of the dismounted troops in the field.

ION M640x design and features

The ION M640x platform is designed, developed and manufactured entirely in the US. The tactical UAS features an open system architecture and is equipped with a high-power discrete mission computer to enable autonomous operations.

The UAS is interoperable with common ground control stations (C-GCS) and the US Army’s Tactical Open Ground Station Architecture (TOGA). It weighs approximately 4lb (1.8kg) with payload and can be accommodated in a rucksack. It can be safely operated in difficult environments such as rain and wind.

The tactical drone has a length of 11.1in (28.2cm), a width of 5.7in (14.5cm), and a height of 4.9in (×12.4cm) when folded, while the dimensions in unfolded conditions are 22.5in (56.4cm), 22in (56cm) and 4.9in (12.4cm), respectively.

In addition to the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the standard ION M640x kit includes a lithium-ion rechargeable battery, a battery charger, a field repair kit, a softshell portable case, a handheld ground control station (GCS), and a removable memory card.

ION M640x payload details

The payloads that can be carried by the quadcopter include a 12MP wide electro-optical (EO) sensor with 3.37mm 82° field of view (FOV) lens and 12MP narrow EO sensor with 3.37mm 28° FOV lens, a Teledyne Flir 640×512 thermal imaging infrared (IR) sensor, and a forward collision avoidance time-of-flight sensor.

The 640×512 IR sensor is equipped with f1.0, 32° horizontal field of view (HFOV) 60Hz lens with 4x optical and 10x digital zoom. It provides twice the resolution of similar UAS sensor products, and enhanced sensor detection capability and clarity. A near-infrared (NIR) laser illuminator integrated into the UAS enables the user to highlight the objects of interest remotely for enhanced visibility.

The smart object tracking feature of the tactical UAS allows the users to detect and track moving targets while maintaining a safe stand-off distance.

Communications

The high-power discrete computer communicates with the UAS through the micro air vehicle link (MAVLink) protocol. The MAVLink communication datalink has frequency ranges of 1,625-1,725MHz, 1,780-1,850MHz, and 2,015-2,110MHz triband or 2,402-2,478MHz. Secured with AES 256 encryption, the datalink has a range of 3km.

The UAV employs military triband direct data link (DDL) and commercial DDL for radio communications.

Performance of ION M640x tactical UAS

The UAS has a maximum speed of 37km/h and an endurance of up to 35 minutes. The wind tolerance of the UAS is 20kt, while the precipitation threshold is 0.64cm/h. The ambient temperature working range of the UAS is between -20°C (lower limit) and +50°C (upper limit).

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