Denel is in discussions with rival South African unmanned air vehicle manufacturer Advanced Technologies and Engineering (ATE) about a potential merger of their UAV businesses.

Options include formation of a joint venture, or a strategic agreement to co-operate within the South African domestic market to meet military and potentially commercial UAV requirements.

ATE is the prime contractor for the South African army’s Vulture tactical UAV. Denel has previously supplied tactical UAVs to the South African Air Force on a fee-for-service basis.

The talks started in February following a Denel board decision to restructure the company as a holding vehicle for a network of joint ventures with national and international partners. The proposed merger could see the integration of the Seeker and Denel’s proposed Bateleur medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV into the ATE tactical system’s ground control environment to provide a pathway for more capable surveillance operations by the army.

ATE unveiled a new hand-launched, electrically powered UAV – designated Kiwit – during the Africa Aerospace and defence Show. Denel has also confirmed that it is working on a mini-UAV system for commercial applications, and is exploring a possible new-generation target drone as a medium-term replacement for its existing Skua system.

Source: Flight International