The Denel Dynamics Seeker 400 unmanned aerial vehicle has successfully completed a second round of flights tests at Alkantpan in the Northern Cape as part of its development process, Denel has announced.
The tests included an evaluation of the system for range and performance with full payload on board.
“This was the first series of flights of the Seeker 400 with the full payload,” said Tsepo Monaheng, the CEO of Denel Dynamics. “We are delighted about the performance of the Seeker 400 and confident that we will be able to start with production for clients within the next few months.”
The Seeker 400 first flew at the Alkantpan test range in February this year.
Monaheng said the development of the Seeker 400, which has a cruising speed of 150 km/h and can carry a payload of 100 kg (at the front and back of the aircraft), confirms Denel’s global leadership position in the design and manufacturing of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The Seeker 400 has the ability to simultaneously carry and control two different payloads such as synthetic aperture radar and an electro-optical turret using a completely new digital data link system. These payloads can be installed in the field, allowing the Seeker 400 to be tailored for different tactical situations.
The Seeker 400 can be used for a wide range of military and civilian missions, including maritime surveillance and disaster response. It can stay in the air for up to 16 hours at altitudes of up to 6 000 metres. At typical operating altitudes of between 1 500 and 3 000 metres it is almost invisible to the naked eye and is effectively inaudible at altitudes higher than 1 000 metres above the ground.
Currently, the Seeker 400 has a range of 250 km, but it could be upgraded to use satellite communications, which would allow it to operate at much greater ranges. With the use of the existing tactical ground station (TGS), the range may be extended to 750 km.
Although the Seeker 400 was developed with armed surveillance in mind, it is not armed at present. However, Denel Dynamics said it will definitely be in the future, with either Impi or Mokopa missiles under the wings.
Monaheng said the Seeker 400 is a highlight in South Africa’s development of local UAVs. Its forerunner, the Seeker II, has been successfully deployed by international customers in five countries overseas. The Seeker II is being further upgraded by Denel Dynamics, rebranded as the Seeker 200, and offered to clients who want a smaller air vehicle or do not require the greater endurance and dual payload capability offered by the latest Seeker 400 version.