Denel Dynamics showed an armed version of its Seeker 400 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for the first time at the IDEX show currently underway in Abu Dhabi.
Sello Ntsihlele, UAV general manager of the company in the Denel Group specialising in UAVs and missiles, told the IDEX show daily that a final series of recent flight trials of the Seeker 400 system cleared it for production this year.
“The system is being offered in both a ‘clean’ ISR [Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance]-only and an armed reconnaissance version designated Snyper,” he said.
“The latest trials involved the full gamut of performance tests, including range and altitude, safety, endurance and functional payload. This brought us to the baseline as specified by the client, allowing us to head for production.”
The Seeker 400 is the latest and most advanced of Denel Dynamics’ UAV portfolio, with an operating altitude of 18 000ft, 16 hours endurance and a cruising speed of 150 km/h. With a payload capacity of 100 kg it can carry dual payloads comprising synthetic aperture radar, optronics turret and digital video system for different tactical missions.
The Seeker 400 builds on the heritage of the smaller Seeker 200, derived from the Seeker II, which had significant export success. Both versions are on display at IDEX.
“By aligning the design with international specifications for an armed surveillance UAV, we can offer Snyper with four Impi-S missiles. That still allows for a 40 kg payload, typically the Goshawk II HD from Airbus DS Optronics, although we are still optimising Snyper’s structure,” Ntsihlele told the IDEX daily publication.
The Impi-S is derived from the proven Denel Dynamics short-range (5 000 m) Ingwe and long-range (10 000 m) Mokopa anti-armour missiles.
According to Ntsihlele, potential international clients have indicated a preference for the existing Denel Dynamics forward tactical ground station, despite a smaller ground station being available for ease of transport. The tactical ground station typically more than doubles the line-of- sight range of the aircraft – up to 750 km in the case of Seeker 400.
The IDEX show daily, produced by IHS Jane’s, suggested that the South African Air Force has ordered the type. However, at the time of publication the SAAF had not responded to a request for comment on the possible UAV acquisition or whether 10 Squadron, which operated the Kentron Seeker RPV in the late 80s, will be re-activated.
Picture: Sam Basch