Singapore Technologies Aerospace (ST Aero) has delivered its first production unmanned air vehicle – a short-range, hand-launched reconnaissance aircraft – to the Singaporean army.

ST Aero says it delivered the first of four Skyblade II UAVs in late January, with two more to follow in February and the last to be handed over during March.

Singapore last year agreed to acquire the UAVs after ST Aero developed the improved Skyblade II incorporating modifications requested by the country’s army. The company added an interchangeable payload module and doubled the platform’s endurance to 2h against the performance of the original Skyblade airframe (Flight International, 4-10 April 2005). Intended for over-the-hill reconnaissance missions, the Skyblade II has a range of up to 8km (4.3nm) and can fly at up to 70kt (130km/h). ST Aero has previously experimented with several UAV concepts, including the vertical take-off and landing Fantail and a multirole autonomous vehicle demonstrator, but this represents its first production order.

Company president Tay Kok Khiang expects ST Aero’s UAV portfolio to generate additional sales domestically and internationally, but says procurements will continue to be relatively small in size for the next few years until UAV technology matures and users further develop their requirements.

“We won’t see a big profit until there is a big volume,” he says. “Usage will come and intensity of usage will come.”


Source: Flight International