South Africa's Denel is developing a new unmanned aircraft for the African market called the Hungwe.
"We're developing this for all the markets out there, obviously with the emphasis on the African market," a senior Denel official says. "It's used for surveillance, border patrol, Rhino poaching [prevention] and also intelligence collection."
The key to the aircraft's appeal to less developed nations is the type's low acquisition and operating costs and minimal logistical footprint. Even the ground station is barely more than a commercial laptop computer and ancillary communications hardware. "All you need is a laptop and other relevant equipment," the official says.
Recently flown for the first time, the Hungwe has an endurance of about 6h and a range of at least 54nm (100km). The aircraft, which is similarly sized to the Boeing/Insitu ScanEagle, can also hit altitudes of 12,000ft (3,660m). Testing continues and is going very well, the official adds.
Development activities should be complete by the end of the year and Denel has already secured a first customer for the design. Discussions are ongoing with other potential customers.