Denel has successfully completed the first round of flight tests of its Seeker 400 unmanned aircraft system (UAS) at the Alkantpan range in the Northern Cape, South Africa.
Carried out after a three-year development process, the trials focused on performance parameters of the UAS, which is designed for varied military and civilian missions, such as disaster response, maritime surveillance, electronic intelligence (ELINT) and electronic support measure (ESM) operations.
Commenting on test flight, Denel Dynamics CEO Tsepo Monaheng said, "This is a remarkable achievement for Denel and again confirms our global leadership position in the design and manufacturing of UAVS."
Derived from the Seeker II aircraft, the drone has a cruising speed of 150km/h and can carry a payload of 100kg, and can stay airborne for 16 hours at altitudes of up to 18,000ft.
Monaheng said the Seeker can simultaneously carry two different payloads, such as an electro-optical payload and synthetic aperture radar, which can be changed over in the field, allowing it to be modified for diverse tactical situations.
Designed for launch from conventional airfields, the UAS also carries a completely digital video system, and can be integrated with a tactical ground station, to transmit data to ground stations and field commanders across extended distances.
Additional components that can be incorporated in the drone include maritime radar, synthetic aperture radar (SAR), laser ranger finder, laser illuminator and the communication intelligence (COMINT) system.
A second round of tests is scheduled to be conducted in March 2014, to help determine the platform's production readiness, with the manufacturing for customers anticipated to begin in the second half of the year.
Image: The Seeker 400 unmanned aircraft system during flight tests at the Alkantpan range in the Northern Cape, South Africa. Photo: courtesy of Denel.