Issue 41 Unmanned Systems Technology December/January 2022 PteroDynamics X-P4 l Sense & avoid l 4Front Robotics Cricket l Autonomous transport l NWFC-1500 fuel cell l DroneX report l OceanScout I Composites I DSEI 2021 report

Catalyst for change 18 I n this age of heightened international uncertainty, many defence services are looking to update their unmanned operational capabilities on a large scale. New designs and collaborations on next-generation uncrewed MALE-class aircraft are being unveiled for missions such as persistent border monitoring and wide-area maritime surveillance, as well as ‘loyal wingman’ UAVs that can autonomously team with fighter pilots as intelligent aerial force multipliers. If these new breeds of UAV are to provide serious strategic advantages, they need a new generation of powerful engines to provide high speeds at running costs, and reliability and efficiency levels that end-users can trust. GE Aviation, through its subsidiary Avio Aero, has produced its new Catalyst engine with these users (among others) in mind. The engine is the first in 50 years that the company has designed entirely from a blank sheet, and is touted as the first turboprop made entirely from scratch in Europe, without the use of any overseas- licenced technologies or design practices. The Catalyst is a 1300 shaft horsepower (shp) turboprop with a 16:1 pressure ratio, although future variants are expected to offer 900 to 1600 shp. While the company adds that its size, weight and TBO cannot currently be disclosed, it points out that the system’s testbed aircraft is a King Air 350 with minimal nacelle modifications, and says the engine has a lower total cost of GE Aviation’s lead engineer in Europe talks to Rory Jackson about the company’s novel new aero engine, the Catalyst December/January 2022 | Unmanned Systems Technology Janek Biskupski has led the r&d of the Catalyst turboprop engine, which is being put forward for the next-generation European MALE UAV and others (Images courtesy of GE Aviation)