UMS Skeldar, a joint venture between UMS Aero from Switzerland and Saab, has announced a new version of its Skeldar V-200 rotary-wing unmanned air system (UAS). The V-200B is externally similar to the previous machines, which were regarded mainly as development aircraft, but is virtually all new inside apart from its Hirth heavy-fuel engine. UMS Skeldar acquired the German engine maker earlier this year.
Employing new systems has allowed UMS Skeldar to shave 10 kg (22 pounds) from the air vehicle's empty weight, which can thus be translated into additional payload. In operational terms, it allows the V-200B to carry up to three sensors, in turn permitting the UAS to undertake varied missions without the need to reconfigure. Along with a five-hour endurance with its maximum 45-kg (100-pound) payload and reliable heavy-fuel engine, the multi-sensor carriage of the V-200B represents a unique and class-leading combination of capabilities.
In terms of sensors, the V-200B can carry EO/IR systems, small radars, and the visual detection and ranging (ViDAR) wide-area maritime search sensor—UMS Skeldar having partnered with Sentient Vision Systems to offer this technology. The V-200B has a very low footprint aboard ship, typically requiring only a mission operator, sensor operator, and two technicians. It is also adaptable to manned-unmanned operations.
UMS Skeldar has sold one of the original V-200s to Indonesia for research and development and later flew a six-month operational deployment with the Spanish navy engaged on anti-piracy duties. Experience from this and an extensive test campaign greatly informed the design of the V-200B.
The company is now pursuing a number of high-profile naval UAS requirements, having a reproducable design of the V-200B. A supply chain has been established and a manufacturing partner arranged in Linköping, Sweden, which is already producing a batch of V-200Bs for an undisclosed customer.
Two programs that UMS Skeldar is bidding for are the Royal Canadian Navy’s naval UAS requirement, for which the company has partnered with QinetiQ Target Systems to pitch for a service-based contract, and Australia’s Sea 129 Phase 5 Stage 1 requirement for a maritime tactical UAS. Partnering with local companies—especially to deliver service contracts—is an important element of UMS Skeldar's strategy.