is an autonomously guided parafoil system designed to enable
accurate aerial delivery from high altitudes of up to 35,000
ft and air-speeds up to 150 Knots Indicated Air Speed (KIAS).
Maintaining a high glide ratio of over 4.5:1, Onyx can glide
autonomously over a distance of 30 miles (44 km), and land its
cargo on a preprogrammed target, within a Circular Error Probability
(CEP) of 100 meters. These systems are designed for operation
from military fixed-wing and rotary aircraft such as a C-130
Onyx is a patented two-parachute ("hybrid")
precision airdrop system combining a high-efficiency, ram-air
elliptical parafoil for autonomous guidance, and a round recovery
parachute to achieve a reliably soft landing. This combination
enables faster delivery through rapid descent and glide speed
(up to 80 KTAS), thus reducing vulnerability to wind-induced
errors and detection by the enemy, while maintaining soft landing.
An advanced auto-pilot autonomously controls the system utilizing
its on-board Global Positioning Satellite /Inertial Navigation
System (GPS/INS) sensors and weather measurements conducted
throughout the flight to navigate the system to a pre-programmed
altitude and position, where a second, non-guided round recovery
parachute deploys just prior to landing for a soft touchdown
at its programmed point of impact.
Onyx's flight control system is equipped with adaptive control
and flocking, swarming and collision avoidance capabilities
enabling the Onyx to operate in dense airspace, simultaneously
coordinating over 50 separate payloads, weighing up to 2,200
lbs each. With this technology, multiple Onyx systems (50+)
with payloads ranging from small ground sensors or small munitions
to mission-critical supplies can be deployed in the same airspace,
guiding to one or multiple targets without the possibility of
midair collisions. These algorithms operate in a fully decentralized
fashion so that there is no need for a supervisory controller.
Adaptive Control, an advanced self-learning method for flight
control, enables Onyx systems to fly correctly with gross variances
in wing loading, asymmetrically-rigged payloads caused by pre-flight
rigging errors or cargo changes, and correct for damage induced
while in flight.
Onyx can be operated with the JPADS-Mission Planner (MP) or
through its proprietary base station software, which enables
tracking of multiple systems. This Windows-based system presents
tracks of several Onyxes in 2-D and 3-D maps, displayed in real-time
during the flight or for post-analysis.
2006, Atair Aerospace was awarded a $3.2 million contract by
the U.S. Army to supply the Onyx precision guided parachute
systems for precision airdrop reliability and confidence testing.
The U.S. Air force plans to modify a light version, known as
Micro Onyx, to perform precision airdrop of sensor payloads
and specialty munitions. The use of a parafoil over a small
tail fin provides for significantly increased wing area allowing
high standoff and the ability to be dropped from low speed cargo
airplanes and even UAVs. Onyx systems are available in three
payload configurations: Micro Onyx (0 to 20 lbs), Onyx 500 (0
to 500 lbs / 272 kg), and Onyx 2200 (500 to 2200 lbs / 0.27
– 1 ton).