Saab to produce maritime version of Skeldar UAV

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Saab is seeking a naval partner to support Skelda flight test activities

Saab Aerosystems will exhibit a model of its developmental Skeldar vertical take-off and landing unmanned air vehicle on the flight deck of the Swedish navy's Visby-class stealth corvette HSMS Nykoping at the DSEi exhibition in London from 11-14 September, after revealing plans to fly an enlarged maritime variant of the rotorcraft in late 2008.


 © Saab/Kockums
Saab is seeking a naval partner to support Skelda flight test activities

Scheduled to conclude early next year, development studies into the 250kg (550lb) Skeldar M are being funded by Saab, although several navies have already been briefed about the design, says Saab Aerosystems UAV systems business director Anders Carp.

Also referred to as the V-250, the new UAV will use a heavy fuel engine and offer an increased payload and extended range performance of 180km (97nm), versus the current V-150 design's maximum 100km, says Carp. Potential payloads for the VTOL system could include an electro-optical/infrared sensor or micro synthetic aperture radar, plus additional data links.

Saab is now seeking a naval partner to provide a vessel to support flight test activities, with the goal of demonstrating an autonomous deck landing capability by providing the air vehicle with real-time data on the ship's movement.

The maritime development comes as Saab prepares to launch a fresh campaign of flight tests involving its V-150 Skeldar, having introduced major design improvements to the modified CybAero Apid 55 in areas including rotor design and vibration control. "The helicopter has close to 100% new systems," says Carp, although its original engine has been retained. Flight activities are set to resume later this year at a Swedish military facility, he says.

Saab has, meanwhile, revealed that it made a presentation on the Skeldar UAV system as part of a briefing to the United Nations earlier this year in advance of a possible deployment of Swedish peacekeepers to Chad. If acquired by the Swedish armed forces - which do not currently have a funded requirement for a VTOL UAV - the system could provide surveillance and area patrol services, the company says.