Advantages of Pneumatic Launch

Robonic’s third generation launchers offer a highly cost effective alternative to the use of booster rockets in achieving the zero point or short rail launch of TUAS and target drones.

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When compared to booster systems Robonic’s third generation launchers provide:


• A wider and easily adjustable envelope of UAV mass and exit speed
• Quick recovery between consecutive launches
• No pyrotechnics related storage and handling problems
• No risk of asymmetric or irregular booster burn rates, only perfectly guided launches
• A low acoustic launch signature and no smoke or fire signature
• Minimal manpower requirement and easy handling

The only major cost of pneumatic launching system is the acquisition investment itself. Annual maintenance, spares and energy costs are typically 4 – 5% of the original investment, representing a minor element in the overall operating cost of acquiring and operating any form of unmanned air system.

In operational use a pneumatic solution provides growing savings in terms of cost per launch, with those savings accruing over time as a growing number of launches is achieved.

Any calculation of the costs of pneumatic launch versus the use of booster systems should be based on a clear definition of the annual total costs of each approach.


Comparative calculations should also consider the full planned depreciation period of the full capability investment, including hardware, manpower, training and through life logistics costs.

For unit costing calculations, the total acquisition cost should be divided with the annual anticipated rate of launches. Our experience shows that regardless the scale of investment, after 35 – 45 launches per annum the pneumatic launcher becomes the winning solution.

A reasonable rate of annual launch activity can soon see a pneumatic launcher achieving savings over 50% compared to the comparative cost of booster rockets, meaning the capital outlay of the catapult launch is recovered early in the equipment’s lifecycle.