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Seeker 400 now in production

A Denel Dynamics Seeker 400.The Seeker 400, the latest and most advanced unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by Denel Dynamics, has completed flight testing and is now in production for its launch customer.

Denel Dynamics told defenceWeb that interest from customers around the globe continues to grow and the aircraft will top the company’s UAV exhibit at the upcoming IDEX show in the United Arab Emirates next week.

Zwelakhe Ntshepe, Denel Group Business Development Executive said the Seeker 400 recently successfully completed a vital round of flight tests at the Alkantpan range in Northern Cape. The tests included an evaluation of the system for range and performance with a full payload aboard.

Denel Dynamics is displaying its UAV and missile range at IDEX 2015 from February 22 to 26. “The Abu Dhabi exhibition is one of the foremost opportunities to showcase the latest technologies and innovations in the defence environment,” Ntshepe said. “Denel has a solid track record in missile technology, landward defence systems and aerospace design and manufacturing and we welcome the opportunity to interact with decision-makers in the Middle East and North African markets.”

The Seeker 400 builds on the successful technology developed by Denel Dynamics for its Seeker 2 and Seeker 200, which has been operational in the United Arab Emirates. It is a larger aircraft, has a cruising speed of 150km/h and can carry a payload of 100 kg.

The Seeker 400 has the ability to simultaneously carry two different payloads such as synthetic aperture radar, optronics turret and a digital video system. The payloads can be interchanged in the field, allowing the Seeker to be tailored for different tactical situations.

The Seeker 400 can be used for a wide range of military and civilian missions, including maritime surveillance and disaster reconnaissance. It has up to 16 hours endurance at altitudes of up to 18 000 ft. At typical operating altitudes of between 4 500 and 9 000 ft, it is not visible to people on the ground and is effectively inaudible.

The UAV's line-of-sight range is 250 km from its ground station, but this can be doubled by using a forward ground station with deployed forces. This involves the UAV being launched from a convenient airfield and flown to the area of operations, where it is handed-over to the forward ground station to control during the actual mission.

Although the Seeker 400 was developed with armed surveillance in mind, it is not armed at present. However, Denel Dynamics said it will definitely be in the future, with either Impi or Mokopa missiles under the wings.

The Seeker 400’s forerunner, the Seeker II, has been successfully deployed by international customers in five countries overseas. The Seeker II is being further upgraded by Denel Dynamics, rebranded as the Seeker 200, and offered to clients who want a smaller air vehicle or do not require the greater endurance and dual payload capability offered by the latest Seeker 400 version.

Denel Dynamics told defenceWeb that the much smaller Hungwe commercial UAV has not yet started production. South Africa and Brazil earlier announced intentions to produce a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) UAV, but this project has not progressed any further at the moment.