Armscor re-issues army UAV tender

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Plans by the SA Army to acquire unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are on hold because some bidders “did not meet critical criteria” according to government-owned defence and security materiel agency Armscor.

The upshot is another tender for the same equipment and same user issued. Making tender ECAC/2022/199, which closed a week ago on 6 March, different to its predecessor (ECAC/2022/154) is it stating how many UAVs the landward force wants. In response to a defenceWeb inquiry, Armscor Senior Manager: Corporate Communication Liziwe Nkonyana, indicated four was the number of UAVs sought.

The aircraft to be supplied will be used for reconnaissance and target acquisition. As expected for reconnaissance purposes the UAV needed is not a large one with a maximum take-off weight of 9 kg and an endurance of 55 minutes. The tender further doesn’t specify whether a single propeller or multi-rotor platform is wanted to provide data to ground-based stations for targeting solutions or other actions.

The UAV operator must be able to “work” the platform from a maximum unobstructed distance of 15 km. He or she will use an external battery with a 7.6 volt rating to provide power while the UAV’s built-in battery should be an 18650 lithium ion one with a 17 volt power rating and 135 minute charging time. Expected battery endurance is two hours 30 minutes for the UAV mounted one and four hours 30 minutes for the external ground station one.

While tender ECAC/2022/199 is a re-issue and, as far as can be ascertained, is not the first time Lieutenant General Lawrence Mbatha’s SA Army has expressed interest in UAVs, with it previously indicating a need for them as part of the border protection tasking Operation Corona. As far as is known Defence Intelligence operates an unknown number of Denel Seeker UAVs. The SA Army took small UAVs into service in recent years, including quadcopters and the hand-launched Indiza developed locally by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).