Tube Launched UAV


Lehigh University has designed a few concepts for UAV aircraft, presumably unmanned ditto, launched from a tube such as a grenade launcher, gun, mortar, etc. The aircraft is packed such that it fits inside the tube and then deploys its wings after exiting from the tube. The first concept is a UAV with a “flying wing” configuration, where the wing consists of a number of separate elements which fold and unfold essentially in the fashion of a folding fan. The elevons are incorporated in one fan element on each side. Although the aerodynamics appear poor, flight tests have revealed that such an aircraft can fly very well. The vertical tail of the UAV also consists of elements as in a folding fan. These may point forward and open up backwards. They may or may not be timed, or geared, with the deployment of the wings so they deploy symmetrically.  The second concept consists of a foldable wing with “ribs” made of thin wire (carbon fiber, music wire, etc) and a flexible membrane is connected to the ribs. The ribs may be connected rigidly to the fuselage and deploy the wing by bending out, or they may be rotationally connected and rotate (swing) out. A planform similar to that used in the first concept may be used.


Lehigh Tech ID# 090913-01



Despite defense budget cuts in major countries including the United States and the United Kingdom, the unmanned aircraft market is booming, and lot of money is spent on the research and development of small UAVs. The small-unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) market set to reach $582.2 million by the end of 2019 [1].


[1] “Report: Small UAV market worth $582.2 million by 2019.” Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. (accessed May 16, 2014).




Lehigh University is initially interested in identifying industry partners to co-develop the technology, ultimately leading to licensing.

App Type Country Serial No. Patent No. File Date Issued Date Expire Date
Provisional [PR] United States 61/877,720 9/13/2013    
For Information, Contact:
Alan Snyder
VP, Research & Grad Programs
Lehigh University
Joachim Grenestedt