Small, close-range vehicle intended for military surveillance, but may have civil roles

Korean Air (KAL) has begun developing a small, close-range unmanned air vehicle (UAV) for potential military surveillance missions and expects to begin flight tests by August 2007. Assembly of the first prototype will be completed next August, says project controller Chang-Duk Hwang.

Powered by an 11hp (8.2kW) pusher-engine, the first prototype will have a 3.4m (11ft) wingspan, 40km (22nm) range and a 4,900ft (1,500m) operating ceiling. However, KAL plans to fly an improved vehicle in 2008/9 that will have a 6,600ft service ceiling, 50km range and 3h endurance.

Although the UAV is being developed for the military using government funding, it will also have potential applications for forestry, highway and environmental surveillance, says KAL, which hopes to produce civilian derivatives. The company launched its first UAV project late last year, after South Korea’s ministry of commerce and industry identified a potential market.

Seoul is already sponsoring national development programmes for medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE), tactical and tiltrotor UAVs. The air force’s MALE programme, led by Korea Aerospace Industries, will result in a UAV with a 500kg payload (Flight International, 1-7 November).

The vertical take-off and landing tiltrotor vehicle is being developed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) as part of its Smart UAV programme. Now in the detailed design phase, the project will yield a UAV with a speed of up to 280kt (500km/h), a 5h endurance and a payload of 40-100kg, says Smart UAV development centre director Cheol-ho Lim. Windtunnel tests of a 30%-scale concept demonstrator have successfully demonstrated the helicopter mode, but Lim concedes: “We are now trying the transition mode and aeroplane mode, but are having some problems.”

Meanwhile, South Korea’s Ucon Systems is promoting several variants of its RemoEye tactical UAV – a development of the KARI-built Durumi system. Earlier this year Ucon won a launch order for two RemoEye 006s from the United Arab Emirates air force, but has yet to finalise the sale.


Source: Flight International