Textron Systems unveils new drone at Paris Air Show

Textrons Systems introduced a next generation warfighting drone on Monday at the Paris Air Show.

The new NightWarden tactical unmanned aircraft system is designed for missions including surveillance, targeting, attack and electronic warfare.

A unit of Rhode Island-based Textron Inc., Textron Systems develops and build drones at a plant in Cockeysville, where it employs about 1,400 people. The company's leading product is the Shadow drone, used widely by the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan. Last year it received a $116.5 million contract from the U.S. Army for 24 more Shadows.

The NightWarden offers significant improvements over the Shadow, including greater flexibility and combat capability, said Bill Irby, senior vice president and general manager of Textron Systems Unmanned Systems, in a statement.

With a range of about 685 miles and a top speed of 90 nautical miles per hour, it can carry a payload of up to 130 pounds and operate for as long as 15 hours. A water-cooled, rotary engine makes the NightWarden quieter yet more powerful than prior Textron drones, the company said.

The Nightwarden is on display at the Paris Air Show through Thursday. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan was on hand for the drone's launch.

"Textron Systems continues to be an important economic driver for the state of Maryland, creating hundreds of jobs and supporting more than 270 Maryland-based suppliers, in addition to their numerous partnerships with local schools and their strong commitment to giving back to our local communities," Hogan said in a statement.

cdinsmore@baltsun.com

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