Rutan Vz-10 and Velocity Vz-11


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25 June 2009
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Straight from my own website, two articles that describe the little-known use of Rutan designs by the U.S. Army. If anyone on this forum has any pictures to share with us, that would be greatly appreciated!

Rutan Vz-10


A Rutan canard aircraft is said to have been acquired in 2001 by the US Army's OTSA (Threat Support Activity) and designated Vz-10—a strictly non-standard DoD designation, actually described as an FAA designator given in 1994 only (perhaps an interpolation of the name 'VariEze'?). The tail number (00241) indicates the serial number is likely 00-0241, but at the same time, this is too close to the construction number of the second 'Monkey Green' aircraft (c/n 1241) and its civil registration (formerly N1241) for one not to be suspicious, and this is probably the same airframe heavily modified as a UAV. The aircraft is also said to have received "new identification from the FAA in 1996", although it is not clear what that means.

Although described as a Long-EZ, the Vz-10 seen in the released photo looks more like a VariEze with Long-EZ winglets and a new shortened fuselage. It is known that as early as 1978, Burt Rutan gave a series of canard design seminars to the Air Force Flight Dynamics Lab at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. They had a VariEze built to use as a flight test platform for some RPV avionics, with a pilot in the back seat and a lot of test gear in front. The whereabouts of that aircraft are unknown, but this could very well be the same aircraft that became the Vz-10.

The Vz-10 is described by the Army as "a rear wing forward canard reciprocal engine, single pilot, light airplane designed by Advanced Composites (sic) in the United States (this should actually read Scaled Composites, and even then it is not quite accurate because the VariEze/Long-EZ family predate Rutan's Scaled Composites). The aircraft, constructed largely of composite materials, has a pusher engine, two bladed propeller and a tricycle landing gear; the nose gear being retractable. The flight control system is a positive, mechanical linkage with a conventional set of aircraft controls."

The Vz-10 was used by the OTSA at Biggs AAF, Texas, to simulate cruise missiles and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), at least until 2004. Its primary mission was to be a UAV simulator. It could be fitted with radar reflectors and test equipment to mimic several US and foreign UAVs and drones. Another mission was unit transportation of personnel and light equipment. A rather secret aircraft type, it is known to have taken part in the Roving Sands '97 Joint Exercise in Roswell, New Mexico.

The Vz-10 has logged over 1300 flying hours, and now flies exclusively for the Army's OPFOR, a military unit tasked with representing an enemy, usually for training purposes in war game scenarios. A company by the name of Research Analysis Maintenance (or RAM) Inc. has a contract with the U. S Army to support limited fixed-wing aircraft operations from Biggs AAF, El Paso, Texas, Ft. Polk, Louisiana, and the Tonopah Test Range, Nevada. This contract applies to the Vz-10 among others.

Population: 1 'Vz-10' (probably c/n 1241) ["00-0241", became 08-21241]

Wingspan: 26 ft.
Empty weight: 730 lb.
Maximum gross weight: 1,400 lb.
Speed: 190 kt.

Crew/passengers: 2 (or unmanned for the UAV version)

Velocity Vz-11

A canard design developed from the Long-EZ concept and called the Velocity XL RG has been evaluated by the U.S. Army as the 'Vz-11' from July 2001 onwards as a threat simulator by the OPFOR. The aircraft totalled 55.3 flying hours and doesn't seem to have been flown over the past few years. As with the Rutan Vz-10, the use of the Vz- prefix is rather mysterious (note the uncapitalized "z").

One official document (also found here) also indicates a potential development of this: "A customer has a requirement for a UAV Surrogate, in particular the Vz-11 Velocity XL-RG to be ready for test as soon as possible. Test dates will be determined and commence once the aircraft and pilots are ready. The test requires a unique multipurpose payload which will require the development and integration of a custom pallet in the rear cabin area as well as the addition of two antennas loacted externally and directly underneath where the pallet is to be installed. One of these antennas is required to be retractable." This might indicate that the custom-made OPFOR Vz-11 eventually served as a prototype for the Proxy SkyWatcher and SkyRaider series, two OPVs based directly on the Velocity design.

Population: 1 [03-05148, marked as "148"]

Speed: 200 kts.

Main sources and useful links:

- Skunk Works Digest, 11 Oct. 1997

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