Johannesburg - South Africa will not have to rely on foreign countries for defensive and reconnaissance capabilities, with the development of locally manufactured unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The advancement of cutting-edge UAV technology has become a key capability for users in both peacetime operations and armed conflicts around the world, as current conflicts in the Middle East, Ukraine, Central Africa, and East Africa have shown.
The vehicle was developed locally by one of the country’s leading manufacturers and developers of military communications systems Milkor Integrated Systems.
Cutting-edge UAV technology has become a key capability for users in both peacetime operations and armed conflicts around the world, as conflicts in the Middle East, Ukraine, Central Africa, and East Africa have shown.
The Milkor Integrated Systems division is the newest Milkor entity, having been launched several months ago. Its area of expertise covers communications, controls, autonomy, navigation, platform integration, and integrated mission systems, among many other capabilities.
Milkor Integrated Systems said the Milkor 380 UAV would be the country’s largest unmanned aircraft, set for production at the company’s manufacturing plant in Cape Town.
Milkor said this latest development would put the country on the map and bring it closer to countries such as Russia and many others that manufacture and develop their own military and drone equipment.
The company said it would build on local defence capabilities, with the Milkor 380 drone to be made available to the South African government.
"We are fully committed to building the capabilities required by various sectors in the South African government by making the Milkor 380 readily available for use in the country."
Reports claim that the 380 UAV is the largest UAV developed and manufactured on the continent, with an endurance of up to 35 hours of flight and a payload capacity of 210 kg.
Communications director Daniel du Plessis said the company’s combination of experience and the latest technology had made it possible for Milkor to unveil such an ambitious project, which made it easy for the country to become self-reliant when it came to developing its own military equipment following the decline in the country’s military capabilities in recent times.
"The decline in the South African defence industry has prompted the country’s leaders and users to look outside of South Africa for defence equipment acquisition and high value technology procurement to keep up with trends. ... this creates challenges with money leaving the country and product life cycle management ...
"Foreign acquisitions expose the country to dwindling product support. Such systems require product support of up to 30 years," Du Plessis said.
Du Plessis said the Milkor 380 was able to integrate various sensors and performance intelligence to ensure that the country’s maritime, cross-border, intelligence, and other resources were protected at all times.
"These features make the Milkor 380 ideal for integrating various sensors simultaneously and performing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions beyond the SA borders and within the military intelligence realm," Du Plessis said.