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Zenith Aerotech expands into C-UAS space

Tethered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) manufacturer Zenith Aerotech is working to further adapt its systems for use in the counter-unmanned aircraft systems (C-UAS) space, following a recent deal with C-UAS specialist DroneShield.

Zenith produces three tethered platforms – Hexa, Quad 8, and Quadro – that can hold payloads of between 10 lb and 30 lb, although it customises systems depending on an individual customer's needs, said Don Leckrone, the company's director.

The UAVs have a typical flight elevation of 400 ft, and support a range of payloads, notably an Echodyne-produced radar and the MPU5 smart radio from Persistent Systems and various electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) high resolution cameras. Other specialised payloads, such as LIDAR sensors, are possible, Leckrone said.

Zenith Quad 8 tethered UAV with radar. (Zenith Aerotech)

Zenith Quad 8 tethered UAV with radar. (Zenith Aerotech)

The tethered systems provide greater endurance than their battery-powered equivalents, Leckrone said. In early June, the company said that one of its Quad platforms flew for a total of 161 hours and 49 minutes over the course of a week, 108 hours of which were continuous, uninterrupted flight.

In May Zenith announced that it was working with DroneShield to integrate the latter's command-and-control (C2) system, DroneSentry-C2, onto its tethered UAVs, providing a C-UAS capability when used with the Echodyne radar. Leckrone sees greater potential for the company in the C-UAS space in the coming years, he said. Tethered drones can be flown in excess of 400 ft in military applications, providing an uninterrupted, clear, and wide-ranging picture, which provides significant advantages in C-UAS when combined with their natural endurance, he added.

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