Paramount to develop mid-size UAV as it grows unmanned product range


Paramount Advanced Technologies will start development work on a light medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (MALE UAV) next year, after expanding its unmanned aircraft range with the recently launched Mwari and Roadrunner platforms.

The new UAV will weigh between 500 and 600 kilogrammes and will have an endurance of up to 24 hours, Paramount officials said after unveiling the Mwari and Roadrunner small UAVs at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) 2014 exhibition at Air Force Base Waterkloof.

The 25 kg Mwari is based on a scaled down model of the Advanced High Performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft (AHRLAC). Paramount used experience gained with its quarter scale unmanned flying AHRLAC model to produce the Mwari.

Jan Vermeulen, Business Development at Paramount Advanced Technologies, said that the company finished producing two Mwari prototypes a couple of months ago ahead of the type’s launch at AAD. He added that several potential customers have expressed interest in the type, which features a sensor turret in the nose. Endurance is four hours and line of sight range is 40 km.

The new Roadrunner UAV was designed with a rhomboid wing for high strength and compact dimensions – wingspan of the 15 kg aircraft is 1.5 metres. Vermeulen said the configuration gives a high speed range, making it less susceptible to bad weather. The UAV will be available in a variety of different engine configurations for speeds ranging from 70 to 300 km/h depending on whether petrol, electric or jet engines are used. An electric engine will give an endurance of 45 minutes while a fuel engine will provide a range of around two hours. Vermeulen said the aircraft has flown with turbine, propeller and ducted fan engines and that the next stage is to fly with a petrol propeller engine.

The Roadrunner is launched by catapult and either stalled and landed on its belly or caught via a net. Sensors include an infrared camera and electro-optical sight. The aircraft will be ready for production around January 2015, according to Paramount.

Also showcased at AAD 2014 were some of Paramount Advanced Technologies’ other UAVs, which were developed from experience gained by the acquisition of Advanced Technologies and Engineering (ATE). The 5 kg Civet tactical UAV is powered by an electric motor giving an endurance of one hour and a line of sight range of 15 km. The aircraft is already in service in Namibia’s national parks and with surveying companies. The Civet, Roadrunner and Mwari all share the same payload.

Vermeulen said that that Paramount Advanced Technologies acquired 30 years of UAV experience from ATE and is aggressively expanding its unmanned aircraft systems portfolio. An important part of the company’s strategy is to develop unique software and payloads that enhance platform effectiveness, such as software that can automatically detect and track targets and notify the operator, so he does not have to look at his screen all the time.

Paramount aims to integrate its unmanned vehicles with its various air, land and sea products for a better combined solution. Its recently launched Robotics division is exploring unmanned ground, sea and subsurface vehicles using common hardware and software. On the ground vehicle side, Paramount is exploring the use of unmanned vehicles for threat detection with the possibility of having a robotic sensor/prodder to deal with improvised explosive devices.