The United Arab Emirates (UAE) plans to develop a 1,000kg (2,200lb) vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAV as part of evolving plans to secure a foothold in the international market.

The programme may later include loitering munitions and a form of unmanned combat air vehicle, possibly based on a compound helicopter design.

The VTOL helicopter is one of three development priorities for the UAE Air Force’s UAV research and technology centre, says captain engineer Muaatasem Awda. He says the centre is also looking at options for developing a medium altitude and a high-altitude long endurance (MALE and HALE) UAV. “We are investigating large capacity VTOL, hybrid UAVs, high altitude – HALE and MALE,” he says.

Speaking at the conference, Awda said the centre is closely examining issues of airspace integration for UAVs as the UAE armed forces’ capabilities develop.

Awda says the centre is about to put the Al Sber derivative of the Schiebel S-100 VTOL UAV into production for the UAE Army. A parallel programme to develop an advanced version of CybAero’s Apid 5 VTOL UAV is also nearing completion. Awda said that the new variant, designated Apid 55, is in the final phases of testing and operational aircraft will be transitioned to the UAE Special Forces Command within the next three to four months.

The proposed 1,000kg VTOL UAV would most likely be developed in co-operation with international manufacturers using the same funded approach employed with Schiebel and CybAero.

Source: Flight International