South Africa's National Airways Corporation (NAC) and Austria's Diamond Aircraft are showing off the DA42 Guardian optionally manned aircraft at the Africa Aerospace & Defence show near Pretoria.
The aircraft, which can be configured with various intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance payloads, is being pitched to the African market as a low-cost solution to surveillance needs. It would be operated mostly as a manned asset, even though it could be flown remotely.
One advantage the twin-engined aircraft has is that it uses commercial Jet A1 fuel, which is far less costly than aviation gasoline, its backers say, adding that such fuel is also more widely available in some parts of Africa.
Diamond says the aircraft also has a satellite communications fit, which allows it to gather and relay data from beyond line-of-sight. To demonstrate this capability, an aircraft was flown over Austria, with data relayed back to the NAC chalet at the show.