Israeli Aeronautics Defense Systems has tested a new unmanned aerial vehicle based on the Diamond DA42 light twin. The aircraft is named the Dominator II and flew for the first time in late July. According to Defence Professionals, the pilotless platform builds on the notoriously long legs of the diesel-powered DA42. The publication says the twin can stay airborne for up to 28 hours with a 900-pound payload. It will operate at speeds ranging from 75 to 190 knots and has a maximum operating altitude of 30,000 feet.
It’s worth noting that the Dominator uses the Centurion (Thielert) diesels and Centurion CEO Jaspar Wolfsson told AVweb at AirVenture Oshkosh that the lighter weight of the Centurion compared to the iron-block Austro engine that Diamond has developed is an important factor in the endurance calculations for the UAV. Diamond Aircraft spokesman Peter Maurer disputes Wolffson’s math, however, and told AVweb that all future DA42s, including the UAVs, will have the Austro. “In fact, for long endurance operations, the heavier Austro Engines are better suited because their improved specific fuel consumption results in an overall lower propulsion system weight (including fuel), and the more powerful 170 hp engine with better high density altitude performance permits higher gross weight and higher payload than is possible with the Centurion engines,” Maurer said. “This specific demonstrator UAV project was started prior to the availability of the Austro engine and that is the only reason why this aircraft is equipped with these engines.” Meanwhile, Israeli Aeronautics Defense Systems spokesman Avi Leumi says interest is running high in the UAV. “Interest and demand for the Dominator II have far exceeded our expectations, and we believe that in the coming years Aeronautics will sell dozens of systems around the world. There is tremendous potential for civilian use of UAVs,” he told Defence Professionals.