By PAUL SIMS
LOWNDES COUNTY — On Monday, unmanned aerial vehicle maker Aurora Flight Sciences will formally unveil the Orion, a UAV designed to fly for up to five days.
The company’s CEO and president, John Langford, will make the official presentation at an invitation-only event at the AFS facility at the Golden Triangle Regional Airport in Lowndes County. Mississippi’s two Republican U.S. senators, Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker, are scheduled to attend and speak.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory picked Orion to meet the goals laid out for the Medium Altitude Global ISR and Communications (MAGIC) Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD).
The JCTD is designed to show five days of flight at 20,000 feet with a 1,000-pound payload, company officials said in a statement issued in late September announcing the selection.
Orion being picked for the program “is confirmation that MAGIC’s game-changing capability is demanded by our warfighter and affirms Aurora’s efforts in accelerating delivery of this affordable, extremely long endurance ISR capability,” Langford said in the September statement.
“With quick-paced innovation in aircraft sensors, Orion is designed to provide a flexible and modular platform for high-priority (Department of Defense) payloads. This selection is a great honor for Aurora.”
He added in the September statement: “Both Predator and Global Hawk began as similar programs, and have matured to where they are operational systems supporting the U.S. military around the world; Aurora will build on and learn from these programs.”
Aurora employees began work on Orion – described by company officials
as an all-composite aircraft with a 132-foot wingspan equipped with twin diesel engines – in 2006.
Aurora operations in Bridgeport, W. Va., Manassas, Va. and Cambridge, Mass. are all expected to take part in the MAGIC JCTD project, company officials said in September.