Brazil has selected a version of Flight Solutions' FS-01 Watchdog tactical unmanned air vehicle to meet an army requirement for an initial three aircraft, with a $770,000 contract expected to be signed in late January.

While modest in value, the deal is the first tangible step towards equipping one of the Brazilian armed services with UAVs. The as-yet undesignated new aircraft will retain the Watchdog's basic configuration, but Flight Solutions suggests the army's limited endurance requirement of 1h - versus the FS-01's current 6h maximum - may lead to changes in areas such as payload capacity and performance.

The army's requirement called for a catapult-launched and parachute-recoverable platform, and specified a sensor package limited to electro-optical and infrared imaging. Deliveries are expected from December 2008.

The army does not intend to deploy its first UAVs to operational units, but will instead assign them to its research-and-development centre in Rio de Janeiro to determine their future employment. However, São José dos Campos-based Flight Solutions says that if development and trials work delivers the desired level of success, a much larger UAV order could follow to address a battlefield reconnaissance requirement among the army's cavalry units.

Source: Flight International