Singapore Technologies Aerospace (ST Aero) has revealed it is developing two new versions of its Skyblade II UAV.

The first, designated Skyblade III, is an all electric, hand-launched close-range vehicle derived from the gasoline-powered Skyblade II. The change in propulsion systems has allowed for extensive redesign of the fuselage, with this including removal of the large underslung sensor pod.

Skyblade IV W445

The skyblade IV development will continue this year

Skyblade IV is a significantly larger air vehicle in the short-range tactical class with a maximum take off weight of 50kg (110lb), including a 12kg payload. Both UAVs will use evolved versions of the existing Skyblade II avionics suite and ground control systems.

The Skyblade IV airframe has close parallels to the EMIT Aviation Sparrow UAV. However, ST Aero says there has been no co-operation in the design effort.

Key differences in the two designs include upturned wingtips on the Skyblade IV and use of an X-tail configuration, whereas the Sparrow has flat tips and uses a cruciform tail. The Sparrow also has a larger engine.

Peng-Yam Tan, deputy chief executive of Singaporean Defence Science & Technology Agency (DSTA) says the new version of Skyblade is “a partnership between DSTA and ST Aero”.

Skyblade IV is catapult-launched with a combined parachute and airbag recovery system.

The demonstrator has flown 40h to date with the longest single mission lasting 6h. The next series of flight trials are to begin in late March. Development is planned to be completed by the end of 2006.

Skyblade IV carries a developmental stabilised combined infra-red and daylight television sensor, with this expected to be available for production later this year.

Future versions of the UAV could carry a miniature synthetic aperture radar, says ST Aero, with a development programme underway within DSTA.

Source: Flight International