SubSonex-Based Unmanned Twin-Jet Revealed As Low-Cost Military UAV


Fans of Sonex Aircraft will find familiarity in the latest jet-powered unmanned air vehicle (UAV) released today at the AUVSI Xponential convention in Orlando, Florida. Warminster-Pennsylvania-based Navmar Applied Sciences Corporation (NASC) has partnered with Oshkosh, Wisconsin-based Sonex on a twin-engine version of its SubSonex Personal Jet kitplane. Known as the NASC Tracer, the newly announced aircraft is described as “a low-cost, high-performance UAV designed for speed, versatility and survivability.”

The Tracer and its co-developed Mobile Operations Center offer the department of defense (DoD) and civilian customers “a high-speed and reliable platform for the development and testing of various technologies,” said NASC. Bryan Hazlett, VP of the company’s UAS (unmanned aerial systems) sector, said, “Developing what we at NASC consider a ‘Best Value, Low Risk’ UAV alternative to larger and more expensive options is a proud moment for all of us.”

NASC cites the airframe’s multiple payload locations, including potential for under-wing and centerline pods and within a nose radome, enabling “a wide variety of advanced payload systems.” The Tracer’s 18-foot wingspan and light weight (max takeoff weight less than 1,500 pounds) generates a much smaller footprint than traditional, larger UAVs.

And NASC said, “The easily field-maintainable aircraft is intended for a wide range of operations including Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T), reconnaissance, counter-UAS, communication relay, insertion into contested airspace, electronic warfare, research and development, military training activities and many other mission sets.”

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. The best bang for the buck drone was just recently found to be rotax powered and built in Turkey. I wonder if Uncle Sugar is going reconsider its Jet A addiction. If so, I think Sonex might really be able to have a winner with multiple wing and engine configurations.

  2. It will have to be sold for a lot less than the $1 million it costs to buy a cruise missile, and will be used mainly for the same purpose — crashing into people and things and blowing them up.
    Those tiny model jet engines used on sub-Sonex and this are far too noisy to be used in surveillance drones and if the sub-Sonex has a 600 km range (300 km there and back) having two motors will reduce that to 300 km. (150 km there and back) Still better than a 155mm gun (50 km) which also costs around $1 million, and presumably you could pack 100 kg of HE into it to make a big bang, but still needing a long runway and at least one support van or truck which will make it vulnerable.

    • Not so sure on the range. They could have added a fuel tank where the human used to be couldn’t they have?