IDEX 2017

Advanced UAV flies in from Saudi Arabia [IDEX17D5]

23 February 2017

PSATRI (Prince Sultan Advanced Tech. Research Institute) from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is displaying its Skyguard UAV at IDEX as part of the Military Industries Corporation display (Stand 12-D20). The vehicle has autonomous take-off and landing capability, but can also be controlled manually from a sophisticated ground control station (GCS).

With a wingspan of 7.5m, the Skyguard can fly for up to 12 hours at altitudes of 18,000ft on the power of a two-stroke engine. The vehicle has a payload capacity of 50kg, and is shown at IDEX with an L-3 Wescam MX-10 electro-optical turret in the nose. An alternative payload is the larger MX-15 turret, which would be carried under the belly. The Skyguard is fitted with a datalink that can receive commands and transmit imagery back to the GCS at distances of up to 200km.

PSATRI was established in Riyadh by King Saud University and the Royal Saudi Air Force to perform advanced research on defence and security technologies. Skyguard and its GCS have been developed by PSATRI’s Autonomous Vehicles Laboratory, which also constructed the prototype. Flight trials began successfully last year and the system is now in the qualification phase.

Initially the Skyguard is intended for a range of civilian missions, including security duties, but the type has the potential to be developed further for military roles. As PSATRI is a research institute, it does not have mass production capabilities, and the programme would be handed over to another entity if production goes ahead.

(248 words)