When we hear the name Cosworth a collective understanding and meaning springs to mind — one cultivated from years of association to the highest levels of motorsports. The British engine building and tuning company has made their mark in Formula 1, rally, road racing, and the private aftermarket with a major presence.
Known for their high-strung, small displacement formula engines, Cosworth has not restricted themselves to the upper-echelon aftermarket. Like any good business model the British firm has diversified, applying their talented designers, engineers, and technicians to serve other revenue sources. Cosworth isn’t known for weed whacker engines, lawn mower engines, lazy grand touring powerplants or airplane engines — it is known for racing.
So when we discovered that for several years Cosworth has been a major supplier of unmanned ariel vehicle (UAV) engines to the US Military, we had to dig a little deeper. Pio Szyjanowicz of Cosworth was interviewed by The Engineer UK on the topic and described how this change of markets came to be.
Regarding the form of these specialty engines Szyjanowicz described them as, “Extremely compact, heavy-fuel engines for UAV and portable genset use — so those have come from a project where our understanding came about that there was an opportunity to do UAV engines. That’s a project we’ve been working on particularly with the US Navy, and is coming to a particularly exciting stage now that we have single-cylinder and boxer configuration engines, all of which are true compression-ignition.”
Szyjanowicz explains that the efficiency of compression ignition engines means that UAVs tasked with long flight times can reduce weight in the form of fuel. Additionally we can suppose that the NATO single-fuel concept plays a role in this sort of standardization, making fuel commonality between all land and air based vehicles and ultimate goal.
“All of these are derived from patented technology in terms of the combustion chamber — it’s made a big difference in getting true compression ignition to work on an engine of this scale,” continued Szyjanowicz.
While our day to day exposure to this type of engine may be very limited, it is fascinating from a global awareness standpoint to find outsourced technology such as the usually exotic name “Cosworth” finding it’s way in to US Military hardware. Certainly not the first time, but it begs the question why do we need to look beyond our shores?