July 11, 2013 by Craig Hoyle – FG
London - Saab has secured a first customer for its Skeldar vertical take-off and landing unmanned air system, with the type to be employed in a maritime surveillance role.
Announcing its receipt of the contract on 11 July, the Swedish company says the "Skeldar UAS will be operationally deployed with the customer before the end of this year and will be used in naval operations where the benefits of a vertical take-off and landing UAS are most prominent".
Further details about the launch user and number of systems to be supplied have not been disclosed. "The industry's nature is such that information regarding the customer will not be announced," the company says.
Saab's head of aeronautics, Lennart Sindahl, cites the Skeldar's "flight performance, heavy fuel engine and easy-to-maintain design" as key factors in securing the sale. According to company information, the unmanned rotorcraft has a maximum take-off weight of more than 200kg (440lb), including a sensor payload totalling up to 40kg, and offers a 5h flight endurance.
Developed and tested during the last several years, the maritime version of the Skeldar can carry a range of payloads, including an electro-optical/infrared sensor and automatic identification system equipment to monitor the activities of surface ships.