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Ricardo’s Wolverine3 UAV Engine Completes First In-Flight Test; Potential for APUs

Ricardo’s new Wolverine3 heavy fuel unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) engine has completed its first in-flight tests at the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Nevada National Security Site. The Ricardo Wolverine3 is an 88cc, 3.1 hp (2.3 kW), two-cylinder, two-stroke, air-cooled engine with spark ignition, direct fuel injection and 500 watts of on-board power.

Front view of the Wolverine3. Click to enlarge.

Wolverine3 is designed to power lightweight, tactical UAVs. For its first flight, the Wolverine3 was integrated into a Nightwind 2 aircraft, built by Unmanned Aerial Systems, Inc. (UAS), of Las Vegas. The Nightwind is a blended wing aircraft with 100 percent composite construction and a 2 meter wingspan.

Tactical UAVs are ideal for surveillance and intelligence gathering missions and the Ricardo Wolverine3 has the potential to transform the role of UAVs on the battlefield by solving the logistical, safety and reliability issues created by today’s gasoline-powered engines.

The Ricardo Wolverine3 is purpose-built for lightweight tactical UAVs like the UAS Nightwind family but the technology is readily applicable to auxiliary power units and automated ground vehicles, as well as civilian markets like border security and fire-fighting.

The Wolverine3 design is optimized for performance, low weight, package efficiency and durability and can be integrated into a wide range of UAV designs. We’ll take everything we have learned and apply it to further enhance the Wolverine3 capabilities, and we look forward to expanding the Wolverine family with a range of engines for new and different missions.

—Kent Niederhofer, president of Ricardo, Inc.

The development team brought the engine from concept to an operational, production-representative prototype status in six months and from dynamometer first fire to first flight in less than five months. In that time, Ricardo has applied its full suite of advanced design, modelling, simulation and manufacturing tools. Testing leading up to the first flight included cooling duct optimization, airframe to engine electrical interface, electromagnetic interference (EMI) compliance, engine mount design, lubrication system development, propeller drive, calibration refinement and fuel delivery system development.

Key specifications of the Wolverine3 include:

  • Configuration: 2-Cylinder
  • Cycle: 2-Stroke
  • Cooling: Air
  • Power: 3.1hp / 2.3kW
  • Displacement: 5.37 cu in / 88cc
  • Max. Speed: 6,000 rev/min
  • Ignition: Spark
  • Fuel Injection: Direct
  • Starting: Starter Generator 500W
  • Width: 10.5" / 267mm
  • Height: 6.9" / 175mm
  • Length: 7.6" / 193mm



This ICE does not have very high energy density at 1.73 cu. in./hp or 38.2 cc/Kw. They could do much (50%) better.

How much does it weight?

How much pollutants does it create?


What HarveyD says plus try a chainsaw engine. They cost hundreds, not $millions, assuming it's a typical US military contract.


A low stressed package esp in a two stoke will be very fuel efficient.

Light weight aero must include fuel economy.

Wonder if they use any of orbitals induction systems?
Altitude was a problem for traditional carburetter 'Naturally aspirated?' engines.

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