09 November 2015
Avia Black Kite II tactical UAV (photos : Shephard, TAF)
Thai company Avia have completed a series of upgrades to the Black Kite II tactical UAV without the assistance of Saab, which has held a 37% shareholding stake since 2011, in a sign of growing local support capability.
The Black Kite II tactical UAV has evolved from its eponymous predecessor that was exhibited in 2013, with the major modifications being a new engine and airframe, plus its upgrade to give it the ability to meet STANAG and MIL-STD levels.
Avia is responsible for the composite fuselage, flight control system and ground control station of the Black Kite II. Bjorn Samuelsson, Saab Asia-Pacific’s director of sales and marketing, confirmed to Shephard that Avia had successfully developed this UAV without support from the Swedish company.
The main payload on the Black Kite II is an EO/IR sensor but this can be adjusted to client needs. An Avia spokesman confirmed that an unnamed entity in Thailand was already a Black Kite client, and that it had more than one military export customer too.
The Black Kite II has a range of 180km and speed of 70kt. Its wingspan is about 4.3m, and maximum take-off weight is 60kg, according to company representatives.
The GCS works alongside a real-time computer to interface with the UAV in flight. The whole system is designed to fit inside a tactical vehicle or light truck to give the system mobility. The GCS has a maximum range of 180km due to its line-of-sight mode, and it is flown by an internal pilot (for flight), external pilot (for take-off and landing) and a payload operator.
Avia revealed at the Defence & Security 2015 exhibition in Bangkok that it is also working on a larger next-generation UAV platform called the Shikra, which will have a 250kg maximum take-off weight. With Avia heavily involved in Saab’s network-centric programme for the Thai military, Shephard believes UAVs will be integrated into that system in the future.
Meanwhile a tracked UGV also developed by the Bangkok-based company has been christened THER, which stands for Towed Hazardous EOD Robot. A spokesman said it was designed for tasks such as bomb disposal, hazardous materials and surveillance.
It has been designed with three payloads to date – a hydraulic arm, chemical sensors and a water cannon. Work on THER commenced in 2013, and while development still continues, it has already found acceptance with an industrial customer within Thailand. Clients both at home and abroad are anticipated for THER, according to a spokesman.