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Denel unveils armed Seeker, Impi missile

The Denel Dynamics Seeker 400 will soon be available as an armed reconnaissance platform, capable of carrying the company's latest missile – the 25kg Impi, a hybrid of the business' existing Mokopa and Ingwe precision uided missiles (PGM). The combination is on display at this year's Africa Aerospace & Defence exhibition at AFB Ysterplaat in Cape Town.

Denel Dynamics' Garsen Naidu says the new missile concept “brings all our experience together”. The missile combines the Mokopa's seeker and laser guidance units with the Ingwe's multipurpose warhead and Umkhonto surface-to-air missile's datalink. Like the Mokopa, the weapon, on display at AAD as a mock-up has a 10km range.

Impi is currently in its design phase and is a small, low-cost system designed specifically for operation on light weight platforms.

Both developments came as a surprise as Denel Dynamics until recently played down any intent to develop an armed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). It also successfully kept news of the Impi under wraps. Asked about arming the Seeker 400, Denel Group Senior Executive for Business Development: Africa/Asia/Middle East, Wessie van der Westhuizen, conceded a turnabout, saying the development was in line with a global trend to arm UAV for self-defence and armed reconnaissance.

Meanwhile, the Seeker 400 is also gradually maturing. First introduced to the market during the AAD2008 show, at Ysterplaat two years ago, the aircraft is now expected to make its first flight in the next year and become operational in time for the next AAD, in 2012. “We expect to have first flight in 12 to 16 months and be in production with the 400 in two years”, Denel Dynamics UAV business development manager Burt van Staade says.

Denel Dynamics says Seeker 400 builds on the proven capabilities of the Seeker II but with greater payload (allowing for multi-payload missions) and greater range (allowing “vastly increased” time over target). The system is some 30% larger than Seeker II. The twin boom, push-prop tactical UAV has an endurance of some 16 hours. The UAV, developed for an undisclosed Middle Eastern launch customer, is capable of carrying up to 100kg of payload plus fuel.

Seeker 400 literature notes the system boasts a dual-band datalink, necessary for a UAV to carry multiple payloads. As well as electro-optical systems the company is also offering synthetic aperture radar and signals intelligence payloads. The system is modular and will allow operators to swap out payloads dependent on mission.

The literature continues that Seeker 400 can operate at distances up to 250km from its base station and has an operating ceiling of 18,000 ft. A typical Seeker 400 system is expected to consist of between four and six air vehicles, one or more mission control units (allowing for hand-off between stations), modular payloads and a tracking and communications unit.


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