Air Platforms

KAI pursues indigenous VTOL UAV development

23 October 2018

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has launched an internally funded programme to develop an indigenous multirole vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to meet a future Republic of Korea Army (RoKA) requirement, with flight trials expected to commence in 2019.

KAI officials told Jane’s that the Night Intruder 600 VT is the company’s first attempt at developing a VTOL UAV. The prototype air vehicle has an overall length of 9 m, width of 2 m, height of 2.5 m, and a planned maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 600 kg. However, its MTOW could be extended to more than 750 kg when the programme matures.

The Night Intruder 600VT prototype seen with it electro-optical payload. (IHS Markit/Kelvin Wong)The Night Intruder 600VT prototype seen with it electro-optical payload. (IHS Markit/Kelvin Wong)

“Development of the Night Intruder 600 VT commenced in 2017 and we have based it on a commercially available two-seat helicopter for logistical and maintenance efficiencies,” said Kwak Kyoung Ryoung, deputy senior manager at KAI’s UAV Business and Program Management Team.

“Using the latest lightweight helicopter platforms eliminates concern about parts obsolescence or discontinuity, and is much more cost effective than developing a bespoke airframe,” Kwak added.

He declined to disclose details of the air vehicle’s propulsion system, although he noted that engineers are aiming for a 6-hour endurance with a full-mission loadout.

The air vehicle is typically equipped with a chin-mounted stabilised electro-optical infrared (EO/IR) turret with high-definition daylight and thermal cameras, although a laser rangefinder or designator can be incorporated to provide targeting support to forward deployed RoKA ground elements. Other mission payloads being planned include a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) system.

As the Night Intruder 600 VT is expected to operate in a contested environment, KAI has incorporated patented GPS anti-jamming capabilities to reduce its susceptibility against interference and intentional jamming. It will also be equipped with a redundant flight control and communications system, with the initial approach employing combined C-band satellite communications (satcom) – which operates at lower frequencies and therefore offers improved performance under adverse weather conditions than the Ku-band or Ka-band frequencies – and ultra-high frequency radio for assured control.

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