An increase in reliability and safety of the newly launched Skeldar V-200B unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) contributed to its selection by the German Navy for use on board its K130 Braunschweig-class corvettes, UMS Skeldar officials told Jane’s .
The latest version of the rotary-wing UAV was launched by the company in July 2018. This variant incorporates a range of enhancements, including a 10 kg weight reduction, which enables the vehicle to stay aloft for approximately five hours with a 40–45 kg payload. An additional flight hour was gained by revising the vehicle’s internal wiring and introducing lighter materials.
“Safety is paramount, and they [the German Navy] wanted to make sure we always had reserves to complete the mission, and if anything unforeseen happens, you have the reserve to come back safely to base,” David Willems, head of business development at UMS Skeldar, told Jane’s .
“The extra hour is also useful down station, offering more time to carry out the mission.”
The company also noted that the robustness of the Hirth Motors heavy-fuel engine has been improved, while a software modification to the engine-management system has improved the propulsion system’s fuel consumption.
Willems noted that the engine has experienced no failures, while its time between overhaul is 250 hours, something that UMS claims is a differentiator in the market. Engine subsidiary Hirth is also working on reducing maintenance requirements.
“This, alongside the weight reduction, makes the platform far more robust than it was before, and it is a combination of these factors that have to be taken into account,” Willems said.
“The B-model is a mature product, whereas the A-model was a mature prototype, but wasn’t an industrial product,” he added. “The B-model is also ready for large-scale production.”
A new datalink for the UAV has also been introduced and has been tested to 150 km.