Production of Wagtail Trooper gyrocopter underway


Wagtail Aviation has flown its Trooper rapid deployment gyrocopter and is busy finalising the production process, with some deliveries having already been made. The Trooper is fitted with rugged landing gear featuring oversized offroad tyres for remote/bush operations.

Powered by a 300 hp Subaru engine, the open aircraft has a pilot up front and two outward facing seats behind for the rapid deployment of personnel such as game rangers, who can disembark from the aircraft in under two seconds.

Johan T von Ludwig, Director of Wagtail Aviation, told defenceWeb that the aircraft flew for the first time in mid-2015. It was unveiled at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition in September 2014. It has been used operationally, and some development flying is underway.

The Trooper has been exported to Botswana, with one aircraft already in service, and another is due to be exported to Australia soon. Von Ludwig said the Trooper has attracted interest from big military hardware supply companies, and Wagtail Aviation is in discussions with some of them.

He said that there is large market potential in Africa, as the Trooper is easy to operate and at low costs, and is significantly cheaper than a helicopter. He hinted that some African countries may consider local production.

In addition to the pilot and fuel, the Trooper can carry up to 200 kg of payload, which can be anything from surveillance equipment to military hardware. Von Ludwig said that anything a customer wants up to 200 kg can be mounted on the aircraft.

Wagtail Aviation also produces the Trojan gyrocopter, built for long distance patrols and surveying. More than seven Trojans are flying in South Africa and von Ludwig said the number of Trojans in Africa is in the double digits.

Wagtail Aviation has also developed the Light Delivery Gyro (LGD), but at the moment it is focussing on the Trooper and Trojan. The LDG can carry up to 300 kg of cargo. Loads include a pilot and two passengers or a litter or two droppable 150 kg cargo boxes. Maximum all-up weight is 790 kg. Various engine and rotor blade options are available on all the gyrocopters depending on the performance required – Subaru engines ranging between 180 and 300 hp are available.

Von Ludwig told defenceWeb that other gyrocopters, such as short takeoff versions, are on the cards, but that is down the line, with the focus on the Trooper and Trojan.

Wagtail will again be present at this year’s Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition in September and will most likely take part in flying displays.