Australia's Codarra Advanced Systems has unveiled a prototype short-range unmanned air vehicle (UAV)for special forces.

The unnamed system comprises an electrically powered UAV carrying two charge-coupled device (CCD) cameras, a VHF datalink terminal, global positioning system (GPS)satellite navigation and autopilot, and a laptop computer-based flight control and data display terminal.

The system is a spin-off from Canberra-based Codarra's counter-terrorism equipment development contract to support Australian Army special forces during September's Olympic Games in Sydney.

While the UAV will not be used during the Olympics, the camera, datalink and signal processing system will be deployed for real-time gunsight-imagery relay from special force snipers to command centres. The 4km (2.5mile) range datalink carries a PAL video format signal at either 2.434GHz or 2.411GHz.

The laptop computer-based command terminal uses a combination of digital map and "pen" technology to enable the input of up to 100 UAV navigation waypoints.

The UAV has a 25km range and a30min endurance. Codarra is exploring extended range and endurance options by using a glider mode and on-board imagery storage for playback on landing.

The UAV has a 500ft (150m) ceiling, but is designed to generally operate at below 300ft. The maximum payload is 3.5kg (7.7lb).

Two demonstrator systems had their first flights in mid-March, while a major demonstration was planned in Canberra this week. A production system - including UAV, spare wings, batteries and laptop computer - will be carried inside a soldier's back-pack.

The company is considering fitting a thermal imaging camera in place of a CCD unit.

Source: Flight International