Successful test flight for Tellumat ASTUS


South African provider of defence and security technology provider Tellumat successfully completed flight trials with its ASTUS unmanned aerial system (UAS).

Willie Malan, support and services manager for Tellumat Defence and Security, reported the ASTUS unmanned aerial system flight team is back home after a number of successful test flights in the Overberg region of South Africa under SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) regulations.

“Flying under SACAA’s RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) regulations for the first time, all flight operations were done with assistance from and under cover of UAV Industries’ RPAS Operators Certificate,” Malan said.

Challenging conditions

Poor weather conditions saw any number of test flights done in strong winds, freezing temperatures and various layers of cloud cover. This did not deter the flight team and the UAS coped – admirably – with all conditions, he added.

Among flight milestones achieved were successful climbs to 16 000 feet above sea level and maintaining cruise speeds varying from 50 up to 90 knots.

At all times, two live video channels transmitted feeds to the ground station. The Tellumat XTP30 optical training payload provides one video channel.

Malan said take-off performance was excellent, using less than 150 metres of runway and the efficient braking system allowed landings in the same distance.

“The flight test campaign to date proves the ASTUS UAS to be a stable platform for sensor deployment.”

Unveiled at Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) Exhibition at AFB Waterkloof last September, ASTUS is Tellumat’s first foray into full-scale UAS systems provision.

“Before that, Tellumat developed, manufactured and supported market-leading UAS sub-systems for more than 30 years,” Shirley McLean, managing executive, Tellumat Defence and Security, said.

“With UAS demand taking off worldwide, ASTUS has allowed Tellumat to step up with high-end UAS performance in a medium sized, cost-effective package.”

ASTUS is a medium-sized, medium-range tactical surveillance UAS system. It is suitable for lengthy missions requiring real-time surveillance data collection and delivery for a variety of missions. These include border and coastal security, environmental protection and peacekeeping. The ASTUS can also be used to train UAS pilots for beyond line of sight operations of larger UASs.

The system integrates an aircraft, ground control system and camera payload capability in a robust, durable, easily transported, quick to deploy and easy to operate high-performance surveillance package.

“The significance of our first full SACAA-vetted flight cannot be overstated,” Tellumat Group chief executive, Andrew Connold, said.

“Design, development, completion and now proven success of the ASTUS UAS has taken more than four years, after many more building up technical expertise and market credentials.”

“We are delighted and believe it will help further entrench South Africa and Tellumat’s position in the global UAS/UAV industry.”