An undisclosed client in the Middle East is the launch export customer for Denel Dynamics’ Seeker 400 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and has ordered six aircraft.
This is according to the latest Denel annual report, which states that the Middle Eastern customer ordered a “comprehensive solution” consisting of six aircraft, two ground control stations, six electro-optic payloads, as well as the integration of other sensors, such as synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and satellite communications (SATCOM).
The customer has also ordered the integration of weapons. “The weapon of choice for the client is the P2, recently designed for Tawazun Dynamics,” the Denel annual report stated. The P2 is a small diameter weapon that was developed for the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE’s) Tawazun Dynamics, now known as Barij Dynamics. It is a low-cost, medium range precision-guided munition ideal for platforms like unmanned aerial vehicles. It was designed and developed in 18 months after a contract in September 2015, with a programmed flight test in November 2016 and a successful guided flight test in March 2017. The 14 kg P2 is GPS-guided, but will have an active laser sensor in the future. In addition to the Seeker 400, it has also been qualified on the Seeker 200.
As the launch customer for the P2 is almost certainly the United Arab Emirates (UAE), it is highly likely that the launch customer for the Seeker 400 is also the UAE, which has also ordered Seeker 200 aircraft to complement its Seeker II fleet.
News of the Seeker 400 export order first emerged last year, with Denel initially only saying the contract was “substantial.”
The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) was the launch customer for the Seeker 400, and took delivery of its first aircraft in late 2015, although operational testing and evaluation by the Defence Intelligence division was still underway late last year ahead of granting full military type certification.
The Seeker 400 is somewhat unusual in that it can carry two sensor payloads (weighing a combined 100 kg) at the same time, such as an optronic sensor turret like the Argos II and a synthetic aperture radar or electronic intelligence package. When carrying two payloads it is known as the Enhanced Seeker 400.
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 up to 18 000 feet. At typical operating altitudes of between 4 500 and 9 000 feet, it is not visible from the ground by the human eye 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. The Seeker 400 can be armed, including with lightweight Impi and Impi-S missiles or the P2. The Impi series is based on the laser-guided Mokopa, but scaled down for lightweight platforms like UAVs.