Russia's Zala Aero has flown a new medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned air vehicle named the Zala 421-20.
Representing an upgrade to the manufacturer's earlier 421-09 design and developed over the last two years, the surveillance and reconnaissance asset has an improved endurance of 6-8h. This increase has been achieved by installing fuel tanks in the aircraft's 6m (19.7ft)-span wing, Zala says.
Capable of carrying a mission payload weighing up to 50kg (110lb), including an electro-optical/infrared camera or synthetic aperture radar, the 421-20 has a projected range of 215nm (400km).
Both images © Zala Aero
The company is targeting further increases in payload and fuel capacity, however, and also plans to further boost its endurance by making engine modifications.
The new system uses the same ground control station equipment as Zala's earlier designs, but can carry two autopilot-equipped dispensers. The company says each can carry over 15kg of supplies and can glide for over 13nm after being released from an altitude of 9,840ft.
Zala believes the 421-20 could also be used to perform maritime or border patrol tasks, support law enforcement activities or monitor forest fires.