Hensoldt demos UAV, sensor solutions at local event

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Hensoldt South Africa has showcased its Astus unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Argos-8 compact gimbal and Bushbaby range of land-based imaging systems to guests at a recent local event.

The demonstration, held at the Dinokeng nature reserve outside Pretoria on 25 and 26 October, was attended by an international delegation, military attachés and local defence and security forces, Hensoldt South Africa said in a statement.

“Hensoldt South Africa leverages South African expertise to develop world-class solutions for the global market,” said Sihle Mayisela, Executive of Strategic Affairs for Hensoldt South Africa in emphasising the global competitiveness of the company’s technologies.

One of the highlights of the demonstration was flights by the Astus, which is designed for missions such as critical infrastructure and high-value asset protection. It can be used for long-distance surveillance, border protection, environmental protection and training missions. The aircraft has an endurance of eight hours, is certified to fly up to 16 000 ft (4 900 metres) and has a range of up to 200 km line-of-sight (LOS).

“This is a system that multiplies the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies and security services,” said Chris Haines, Executive Manager: Marketing and Sales at Hensoldt. “It can be a vital tool in campaigns against cable theft and vandalism against infrastructure. It provides a cost-effective solution for municipalities, state-owned entities and the private sector who want to safeguard their high-value assets.”

Designed as a sensor platform, the Astus can be equipped with smart electro-optical payloads such as Hensoldt’s Argos-8. Catering to the smaller and lighter UAV market, the ARGOS-8 is a lightweight 8-inch gimbal, weighing 6 kg and equipped with laser-designator and range-finding capability. Its visible-day and cooled-infra-red sensors offer day and night operation for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), as well as intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions. Based on the international sales success of the Argos-II and with a view of entering the smaller and lighter unmanned aerial vehicle market, the Argos-8 was launched at Africa Aerospace and Defence in 2022.

Hensoldt also showcased its electro-optical solutions for land-based operations. The Bushbaby range of cameras consists of long-range imaging systems for persistent surveillance, allowing the operator to identify and track intrusions, smugglers, terrorists, drones or any other conventional or asymmetric threats. The cameras incorporate several sensors, such as daylight HD sensors, mid-wave infrared HD sensors and short-wave infrared sensors. These multi-spectrum sensor suites can detect threats at ranges of up to 30 km. Partnering with specialised vehicle providers, these sensor solutions can be easily integrated into a wide range of vehicles, including wheeled, tracked, armoured and civil vehicles, as well as legacy systems, Hensoldt South Africa said.

“As with the majority of Hensoldt South Africa’s products, these platforms and sensors complement the company’s other surveillance capabilities, including radar, signals intelligence and electro-optical sensors,” the company concluded.

Hensoldt South Africa held a similar demonstration in November last year, when it flew its Astus near Saldanha on the Cape west coast. The aircraft were fitted with different sensor payloads. Numerous local and international potential customers attended the demonstration, including several “serious prospective buyers.”

The Astus was first unveiled in September 2018, by Tellumat, and was subsequently acquired by Hensoldt South Africa along with some of Tellumat’s other business units. Key features of the medium-size, medium-range UAV are a 5.2-metre wingspan, 115 kg maximum take-off weight; and cruising speed of 55-60 knots. The aircraft can carry payloads up to 10 kg.

Hensoldt South Africa exports its solutions to more than 45 countries across the world, and these range from electronic warfare and optronics, spectrum monitoring and security solutions, to radar, IFF and datalinks.