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Gyrojet unveils airborne surveillance vehicle

Police may soon operate covert surveillance missions in a restyled autogyro following the development of a Manned Airborne Surveillance (MAS) platform by Derbyshire start-up, Gyrojet.

The two-seater Scorpion S3 autogyro has been designed for the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) market, but could also be modified for use by the film, entertainment and commercial sectors.

Company founder and pilot Barry Jones was impressed with the reliability and performance of autogyros following an attempt to fly around the world in one several years ago.

‘I realised then that the autogyro is just as capable, if not more so, than the helicopter in many of its roles due to the helicopter’s high through life costs and constant need for significant maintenance,’ he said.

The Scorpion S3 uses an unpowered rotor in autorotation to develop lift, and a gas turbine Alison B17 engine-powered propeller to provide thrust. It is fitted with a centreline-mounted under belly sensor turret, tactical radios and data recorders.

It does not require complicated transmission and drive chain assemblies and so does not suffer from the associated vibration or airframe fatigue. Jones added that it could hover for long periods at heights that would be deemed unsafe for a helicopter.

The company believes the design will reduce costs for fleet operators by 75 per cent while also reducing their carbon footprint by up to 80 per cent compared to a conventional medium-sized gas turbine helicopter.

Following its unveiling at this year’s Farnborough International Air Show, Gyrojet has had a number of enquires from foreign defence forces and is currently in talks with the UK’s National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) to introduce the Scorpion S3 as part of the police surveillance helicopter fleet.

Unmanned aerial vehicles are moving into the mainstream and being used in many civilian applications. Click here to read more.


Readers' comments (4)

  • ".. it could hover for long periods at heights that would be deemed unsafe for a helicopter." - How so, if the main rotor is not powered, the machine has to move forward through the air, or sink, to keep it rotating?

    The autogyro was around before the helicopter and abandoned, it will be interesting to see if it takes off again with the new attributes..

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  • Agree with JG. Gyro's cannot hover unless with relation to ground speed in a significant headwind. From the pictures shown the machine seems over-designed and looks geared toward sales revenues rather than practical application. Surely a simpler design would be cheaper, lighter and as effective. A lightweight turbo-diesel power plant would also provide greater range, duration and efficiency (but no glamour). The aerospace industry seemingly avoids auto-gyro's because of their low initial price and simple maintenance, thus: no large revenue generation = no investment.

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  • I am a student of the gyro, and compared to fix wing or helis, there is no comparison, yes she hovers stationary with a 25mph head wind ,she fly's in any conditions, and is very cost effective, and stable, instead of misleading yourself s, give one a trial flight, You will be converted

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  • I'm a student of the helicopter and in my own opinion I would say that the design looks very advanced and purposeful. That in itself is necessary due to the current trend of 'having' to look advanced, rather than looking and being simple like the Barnes Wallis machines. I would also add that anything that isn't correctly balanced will vibrate, and the Alison 250 B17 is a good choice of engine.

    One question, if 'it does not require complicated transmission and drive chain assemblies' how does the pilot get the main rotors turning prior to take off? Do they open the canopy and spin them, then close canopy quickly etc or does the ground crew do it?

    The problem autogyros have with sales is user snobbery, police and para forces want helicopters because that's what they have in the USA. It gives you kudos, autogyros means you have a small budget and are therefore a poor man's alternative.

    Personally, I think it looks great and wish them every success.

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