New Hybrid Quantix Recon: Covert Operation, Actionable Intelligence


AeroVironment’s new Quantix™ Recon, a fullyautomated reconnaissance unmanned aircraft system.

Today’s warfighting is creating new demand for Group 1 Tactical UAS even as it calls for more capabilities from them. Paramount among the requirements is a need for mapping that delivers vital information in minutes, covertly and under front-line conditions.

On April 23rd, AeroVironment debuted Quantix™ Recon, a solution designed to meet this call. The Simi Valley, California-based company is the largest supplier of unmanned aircraft to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) inventory and furnishes equipment to more than 45 allied governments.

“AeroVironment’s Quantix Recon is a low-cost reconnaissance solution that can be in the air within minutes, capturing high-resolution georeferenced imagery of hard-to-access areas or dynamically changing environments,” said Rick Pedigo, vice president of sales and business development.”

To do this, Recon has to deliver on-demand vital imagery within a rapidly changing environment. Brian Young, product line manager TUAS posited such a situation. “The landscape is extremely dynamic,” he said. “Streets that were passible days ago may no longer be passable. Structures that existed not that long ago may no longer exist. And by the way, you probably don’t even have a reliable internet connection.

“In this scenario, the information the warfighter needs must be available in minutes, at a very high level of resolution, and it must be collected covertly,” Young continued. “This is the challenge that Quantix Recon was built to address.”

Recon brings several advantages to the fight. It’s a hybrid VTOL, which simplifies takeoffs and landings. At 5 pounds and with a 3.5 foot wingspan, it fits into a carrying case and can be rapidly deployed. Four electric motors can propel it at 45 miles per hour for 45 minutes on one battery, and it can fly in winds of up to 20 miles per hour. Fully automated flight allows it to be operated hands-free by relatively inexperienced fliers, an asset in battlefield situations.

Ultimately, though, Recon is about delivering actionable intelligence. Five altitude presets (150 to 800 feet AGL) and three flight modes (area, waypoint, linear/corridor) empower multiple mission plans. A worldwide map library on an SD card offers initial guidance, which Recon then updates. With a simple swipe, flights can maintain RF silence for up to 20 kilometers out and back, limiting an adversary’s jamming ability while furthering stealth-like in-flight data processing.

Once over a surveillance target, dual 18-megapixel cameras—color and multispectral—capture high-resolution data. On landing, imagery can be viewed for more detail or more coverage area via Recon’s Quick-Look™ tablet app. A pinch-and-zoom feature can focus down to centimeter-level ground sampling distance, with vegetation, runway debris and tire tracks yielding evidence of human disturbance.

Maps can be further processed via a variety of geographic information analytical tools (GIS). AeroVironment is partial to loading the maps into Pix4D fields and having them stitched together, then exporting the results into the type of  FalconView mission planner used by many of the company’s military customers (as well as by AeroVironment’s Puma, Raven and Wasp vehicles).

“Truly powerful imagery that hasn’t been available today and certainly can’t be garnered from just about any satellite out there,” is how Young summed up the system’s value proposition. “This is the kind of actionable intelligence Quantix Recon provides.

Photo courtesy of AeroVironment

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