Cape Town based company KND Naval Design, participating in the Dubai Airshow for the first time this year, has won a $30 million order for its unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Kobus Potgieter, head of KND Naval Design, said that the company’s unmanned division has sold its fixed wing Vars-1 UAV to a Central African country in a deal worth $30 million. The programme will be rolled out over the next three years. He told defenceWeb that the deal involves between ten and 20 systems.
KND has also signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with a Russian company for a similar deal at the Dubai Airshow, worth about $20 million. At the moment KND is in discussions to produce the systems there and expects to establish a second production facility in Russia.
KND has traditionally been associated with naval design, but four years ago, with local partners, started a new business division called KND Robotics. This is a 100% UAE owned company – due to a lack of resources, development funding and support for the programme in South Africa, it was decided to move the programme outside South Africa.
The main purpose of the new business entity is to develop and produce quality, affordable unmanned solutions to be implemented together with other KND products such as high speed patrol vessels.
Potgieter believes that the unmanned business is the way forward, with UAVs becoming more versatile and improving their performance – flights of 4 000 miles in length and heights of 45 000 ft have already been recorded, he pointed out.
At the moment KND’s UAV range comprises of the Vars-1 fixed wing vehicle, with an endurance of 10-11 hours cruising at 140 km/h, and the Shark rotary wing UAV. The Shark comes in two different variants, with the Shark I having an endurance of1.5 hours and a CM-160 camera with a range of 1.5-2 km. The larger and more powerful Shark II has an endurance of up to five hours and can see 5-7 km away using a Wescam MX-10 camera. The Vars-1’s camera is able to see 40 km away, Potgieter told defenceWeb.
KND introduced its UAVs in order to provide a total solution to clients, from design and manufacture to command, control and surveillance. For instance, it offers the 14.5 metre Ghost vessel which incorporates a retractable landing platform for a UAV. Production will start with two vessels in the UAE this year.
Apart from maritime operations, KND’s UAVs are also being promoted for a variety of other applications, such as wildlife surveillance (counter-poaching), geological mapping, aerial photography, news coverage, traffic control, crowd surveillance, pipeline and power line monitoring and of course military and maritime surveillance.