Africa Aerospace & Defense 2014

Comprehensive UAV expertise [AAD142]

18 September 2014

South African UAV specialist S-Plane is highlighting its capabilities here at AAD.

The company focuses on subsystems that are used as part of a larger system by a range of mostly international clients, and also hardware-in- the-loop simulators to test control components.

Among the subsystems are the xSERIES control units intended for larger UAVs, a modular and scalable system that is packaged on common-form cards that can fit into standard avionics boxes to control a range of functions, such as flight control, navigation, power and payload management.

Being shown at AAD for the first time is the related nxSERIES, which are smaller units aimed at the mini-UAV market, where SWaP (size, weight and power) requirements are critical. S-Plane’s solutions are tailored to the higher end of this market, aimed at more sophisticated and ‘responsible’ vehicles that will ultimately fly in civilian airspace when regulations allow.

Another new system being launched here, and demonstrated on the company’s stand (Hangar 6, Stand C1), is the Paragon command and control system. Based on a 3D graphic world, Paragon not only allows the control of multiple rotary- or fixedwing vehicles, but also payload management, making it a mission tool.

The system can plot sensor swathe areas to ensure that full coverage is obtained, and has an archiving and retrieval function that allows specific imagery to be reviewed in high definition. Paragon can be scaled to laptops for mobile operations.

In the air vehicle segment, S-Plane has designed and built the Nightingale mini-UAV as a means of rapidly delivering medical samples from remote clinics to pathology laboratories, greatly speeding the process of identifying potential hazards. The scheme was developed in conjunction with South Africa’s National Health Laboratory Service.

A larger vehicle is the Swift, which was initially built as a testbed for S-Plane’s subsystems, but is now being offered as an operational ISR platform. The 7.5m wingspan Swift is powered by a UEL AR-741 rotary engine, offering a 12-hour endurance and altitude capability of 18,000ft.

It is designed to carry a primary payload in the form of an EO/IR turret such as the L3 Wescam MX-10 or MX-15, plus a secondary electronic intelligence or synthetic aperture radar payload.

(363 words)