Desert Wolf unveils riot control drone


South African company Desert Wolf yesterday unveiled its Skunk riot control drone at the IFSEC security exhibition outside Johannesburg. Armed with four paintball guns, it can fire a variety of ammunition to subdue unruly crowds.

The Skunk is designed to control crowds without endangering the lives of security staff. Bright strobe lights and on-board speakers enable operators to communicate with and warn the crowed. If things get out of control the Skunk can use its four paintball guns to disperse or mark people in the crowd. Four ammunition hoppers can load different types of ammunition such as dye marker balls, pepper spray balls or solid plastic balls. Payload capacity of the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is 40 kg but since the gun assembly weighs around 15 kg the aircraft has an excess of power.

In addition to two high definition day cameras, the Skunk carries a FLIR thermal camera for night vision capability. A camera and microphone on the operator’s station records the operators (a pilot and payload operator) so their behaviour can be monitored. Hennie Kieser, Director of Desert Wolf, said people tend to be less aggressive when they are monitored.

Desert Wolf will soon deliver the first 25 units to customers in the mining industry and the UAV will enter service around June/July. Kieser said it was sad that the mines are in a predicament with strike related violence and this is why the mines are the biggest market for the system. A full system including cameras, ground control station etc. will cost around R500 000.

Kieser said Desert Wold will definitely export the Skunk into Africa, primarily for mining operations, and that South African success will lead to other orders. He felt the best market is not in South Africa because of the current legislation restricting drone use.
“I don’t think there’s anything like that in the world,” Kieser told defenceWeb regarding the made in South Africa UAV.

Desert Wolf also offers other UAVs, including the Mozzy, a multicopter for darting game. A live video link enables the operator to monitor the target animal. The company also offers the Wasp helicopter for day and night surveillance.

At the Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition in September 2012 Desert Wolf launched the Bateleur UAV, designed for long range surveillance missions. Another South African product, it has had a good reception so far, Kieser said, and has been ordered by Namibia, Botswana and Ghana. It has been designed for missions like border and fence patrol, pipeline monitoring etc. It has also been demonstrated for anti-rhino poaching tasks. It features a thermal camera for night operations. Mission radius is 30 km and endurance is one hour with a cruise speed of 100 km/h.

Desert Wolf focuses on providing fully integrated solutions, and specialises in high mobility surveillance solutions. The company started out by selling surveillance trailers but the need for greater mobility expanded the company’s product range, leading to the addition of vehicles (the Scorpion) and unmanned aerial vehicles.

Many of Desert Wolf’s products incorporate FLIR Systems cameras – Desert Wolf is the agent and distributor for FLIR Systems’ military products in southern Africa. The company is working on projects in Botswana and Namibia and Kieser said he would like to put FLIR cameras on Badger armoured vehicles for the South African Army and on the Navy’s patrol boats.