SAPS shops for UAVs

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The police set aside R650 million to purchase unmanned air vehicles, but deny a deal has been done with ATE.The SA Police Service (SAPS) is shopping for unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) and it has R650 million for this purpose.

The police are interested in using the aircraft for surveillance and crime prevention during the 2010 Fifa World Cup Soccer finals and beyond.

“We have a R650 million procurement budget and a R640 million deployment budget that was approved by finance minister Trevor Manuel,” says SAPS spokesman superintendent Vishnu Naidoo.

He adds that the money will go towards buying UAVs that will be used by SAPS in three ways. The UAVs will assist SAPS with crowd management during the 2010 World Cup, while beyond 2010 they will be used for crime prevention, as well as special operations.

No commitment yet

SAPS is adamant its needs must be met before it can commit to a particular contractor. Naidoo says not all UAVs that SAPS is looking at meet its requirements, which include being able to hover at extremely high and low altitudes.

“If our needs are not satisfied, then we will not purchase that equipment. But we are impressed by UAVs in general because they have a good turnaround time, they`re easily maneuverable and they`re user-friendly,” adds Naidoo.

He brushed off media reports stating SAPS will acquire UAVs from Advanced Technologies and Engineering (ATE). Naidoo says it is still shopping around. “We have not confirmed the purchase of any equipment and when we do so, we`ll make it known.”

Is ATE in the running?

ATE says it is concluding a deal with a government security agency for the sale of its Kiwit mini-UAV system.

The aviation mission systems integration and UAV manufacturer made this announcement during the Africa Aerospace and Defence 2008 exhibition, in Cape Town, this week. Media reports subsequently speculated the UAVs would be purchased for SAPS.

ATE`s Web site says the Kiwit UAV weighs 3.5kg, is carried in a suitcase, can be assembled within five minutes, launched by hand and flies automatically at 150m above ground, to a range of 5km, for up to an hour.

ATE could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.



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