Photo: S.African State Military manufacturer get maintenance contract for pilotless spy drones


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[I am quite surprised that Denel can still make repairs to these pilotless planes. They look like small spy planes. So we do have some skills. Jan]

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has signed a R23 million contract with Denel Dynamics to provide technical support for aircraft systems.

The deal was announced on Monday 21 February, the first day of the UMEX & SimTEX 2022 exhibition being held in Abu Dhabi. The event focuses on unmanned systems, simulation, training, artificial intelligence, and robotics. The event is organised by Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC) in cooperation with the UAE Ministry of Defence and has attracted 134 companies from 26 countries.

Major General Dr Mubarak Saeed Ghafan Al Jabri, chairman of the Higher Organising Committee for UMEX & SimTEX 2022 and the accompanying conference, said: “This strategic event specialising in unmanned systems, and training and simulation systems, is the only one of its kind in the region, as it plays a pivotal role in supporting the United Arab Emirates’ efforts for consolidating its global leading position by utilising innovations to bolster the economy and national and regional stability. This event is held at a time when we are witnessing global challenges and conditions, shedding light on the UAE’s abilities for organising a strategic event of this importance in the advanced technology and defence industries sector.”

Amongst the $167 million worth of deals announced on Monday, Denel Dynamics was awarded the AED5.597 million ($1.5 million or R23 million) technical support contract. This is for its Seeker unmanned aerial vehicles.

The UAE has ordered multiple Seekers over the years, with the most recent contract being announced in March 2021 when the UAE’s Armed Forces ordered a Seeker 400 system for the Presidential Guard at a cost of AED 50 million (R204 million).

The UAE previously ordered AED25 821 190 (R105 million) worth of Seeker 400s in March 2020.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s Arms Transfers database, the UAE bought several batches of Seeker II aircraft in the 1990s and 2000s, Seeker 200s in 2017 and six Seeker 400 armed UAVs in 2018.

The Seeker 400 is capable of carrying dual imaging electro-optical/infrared payloads with gimbal diameters of up to 530 mm. Sensor combinations can include a colour daylight camera with zoom lens; infrared thermal imager with step fields of view; day colour or monochrome spotter camera; night spotter camera, laser designator and laser range finder.

An electronic intelligence (ELINT) payload is available for detection and location of radar emitters. To provide for multi-mission and multi-roles, optional sensors and specific payloads like synthetic aperture radar (SAR), communications intelligence (COMINT), signals intelligence (SIGINT) and satellite communications can be integrated.

The Seeker 400 has up to 16 hours’ endurance and can carry two sensor payloads (weighing a combined 100 kg) at the same time, or guided weapons (such as the Denel Dynamics’ P2 unpowered GPS-guided weapon or Halcon Desert Sting series).


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