Tethered unmanned aircraft system
Orion 2 is a new advanced tethered unmanned aircraft system being developed by Elistair, a French manufacturer of tethered base stations for commercial drones.
The tethered drone is intended for military, government, and industry users. It can provide round-the-clock surveillance with an endurance of up to 24 hours.
Orion 2 is the advanced version of Elistair’s Orion drone which is in service with the French police, British military, and Singaporean government. It will deliver improved performance in terms of persistence, logistical footprint, and data control.
The development of the new drone was announced in November 2020. Orion 2 will be used for a range of operations including force protection, border control, event protection, and perimeter surveillance.
Orion 2 tethered drone design and features
Orion 2 will have an overall length of 1.19m, diameter of 43cm and wingspan of 1.63m. The hexacopter will include a 330ft micro-tether, allowing it to fly at higher altitudes and monitor larger areas.
The unmanned aerial system (UAS) is claimed to be a lightweight and durable hexacopter that will have quick-deployment capability. It will be able to stay in the air for up to 24 hours and serve as a push-button tactical tower used for both day and night applications.
The highly portable tethered UAS will also be capable of streaming georeferenced electro-optical and infrared imagery simultaneously. With the addition of a fibre optics cable, the drone can deploy 4G/5G communications nodes.
Orion 2 will provide continuous aerial surveillance during day and night over large areas. It can be carried easily as it is packed in two cases and a single operator can deploy the drone within minutes to detect a threat within 300km².
The unmanned system is designed with redundancies at every level, including optimising the lifespan of the components and addition of safety battery for greater endurance.
The design includes two-level failsafe architecture to deal with emergency situations. The system has a modular design with hot-swappable arms and legs.
The Orion 2 drone will be able to carry payloads of up to 2kg and serve as an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and telecom platform at the same time.
The payloads will combine advanced gimbal stabilisation and crystal-clear imagery with low latencies. The drone’s surveillance cameras will be equipped with industrial sensors for continuous ISR capabilities.
Other equipment and systems aboard Orion 2 tethered drone
The intelligent safety battery will act as a power backup and can be charged in-flight. It will work during power failure and ensure safe landing.
The drone will be equipped with T-Planner mission software to facilitate automatic deployment from take-off to landing. It will also have optional pilot capability, depending on mission requirements of the users.
A smart parachute will be integrated into the airframe for automatic deployment in case of emergency.
Propulsion and performance
The Orion 2 drone will be powered by its kevlar-reinforced micro-tether and will have an extended detection range of up to 10km. It is capable of operating in temperatures ranging between -10°C and 45°C.
The UAS will operate at a speed of 35km/h in average wind and 50km/h in gusts of wind. The maximum take-off weight of the drone will be 8.5kg. The drone will provide secured command and control through the Elistair Safe-T 2 micro-tether. The data link will deliver transfer speeds of up to 200mb/s.