South African company Ultimate Unmanned has launched its new Viper 1000C unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which is based on a Stemme motor glider.
The company said the idea is to lease the platform and sell air time for missions such as surveillance, border patrol, anti-piracy, pipeline monitoring, counter-terrorism, mapping, anti-smuggling, wildlife monitoring etc. Ultimate Unmanned is targeting the Middle East, amongst other regions, as parent company Ultimate Aviation has an existing footprint across Africa and the Middle East.
Ultimate Unmanned exhibited for the first time at the Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition at Air Force Base Waterkloof between 14 and 18 September, where it launched its UAV business. The Viper 1000C displayed at the exhibition is based on the Stemme S6, production models will be based on the Stemme S15 (which has been converted to the Patroller UAV by France’s Sagem), with the S6-based Viper to be used for training.
Endurance of the aircraft is 28 hours with external and internal extended endurance tanks. Maximum altitude is 25 000 feet. The 18 metre long, 1 100 kg aircraft has a cruise speed of 113 knots and is powered by a turbocharged Rotax 914 engine delivering 113 hp.
Flight is fully autonomous with automatic takeoff and landing and point to point waypoint navigation. Multiple payload options include high definition cameras, forward looking infrared systems and night vision systems. Two wing mounted hardpoints can carry up to 80 kg of payload, although total payload is up to 350 kg. The Viper 1000C at Africa Aerospace and Defence was fitted with a Swesystem sensor turret, but an Airbus Defence and Space Optronics Goshawk can also be fitted.
Ultimate Unmanned used another South African company, S-Plane, for its Paragoncommand and control system. ParagonC2 is able to monitor Viper 1000C instruments, position and payload. S-Plane Automation also provides automation avionic and ground systems. The ground based command and control centre is mounted in a 6 x 2.56 x 2 metre trailer that includes a kitchen, bunks, toilet, shower, weather station, pilot and payload operator stations, generator, water and fuel tanks and satellite communications link.
The Viper 1000C can be operated in either unmanned or piloted mode, for example it can be flown to its area of operation and then operated in unmanned mode, allowing it to operate under different airspace restrictions – as a result it can fly over populated areas and operate in civilian controlled airspace. The UAV is equipped with a transponder and traffic collision, identify and avoidance system.
Ultimate Unmanned said the aircraft can be used for both civilian and military missions but the company is planned a dedicated Viper 1000M military version and is also studying rotary wing UAVs.
Ultimate Unmanned is part of the Ultimate Aviation group, including Ultimate Air (humanitarian aid, passenger and cargo operations) and Ultimate Heli (cargo and passenger transport). Ultimate Aviation caters to a wide client base, including the oil and gas sector, NGOs and individuals. The group has done work in 17 African countries and four in the Middle East.