The DENEL Aerospace Systems Bateleur Male UAV

Compiled by Maryke Lynn, Journalist Ad Astra magazine
Information supplied by and permission given by Denel Aerospace Systems

During April 2004 Denel took the decision to embark on the development of a surveillance Unmanned-Air-Vehicle (UAV) in the so-called Medium-Altitude, Long-Endurance (MALE) class.

The Bateleur MALE UAV development programme was officially announced at the AAD2004 event held at AFB Waterkloof during September 2004, with the exhibition of a very realistic full-scale mock-up.

In the absence of a formal user requirement specification, the following roles and missions were identified as essential for the Bateleur MALE UAV system:

  • Maritime, coastal and border patrol and assistance in search and rescue operations

  • Battlefield surveillance, artillery fire support and damage assessment

  • Target location and laser designation

  • Electromagnetic intelligence gathering

  • Military and paramilitary reconnaissance

The main technical design specifications place the Bateleur MALE UAV roughly in the same class as the well-known General Atomics Predator-A which became famous during the Gulf War, Afghanistan and the recent Iraq conflicts. These specifications include:

  • Nominal/maximum endurance 18/24 hours

  • Nominal/maximum range 750/3 500 km

  • Nominal/maximum payload capability 200/500 kg

  • Altitude ceiling 25 000 ft

  • Nominal/maximum take-off weight 1 000/1 400 kg

  • Nominal cruise/loiter speed 250/120 km/h

An overseas partner is currently contributing to the development funding while a number of overseas parties have already expressed their interest in the development. These are being actively followed up and the local client Ė the SAN and SAAF are being targeted in terms of their imminent Maritime and coastal Patrol Aircraft (MPA) requirement. An experienced 5-man team from Denel Aviation has temporarily re-located to the Aerospace Systems Irene premises and are currently forming an integral and essential part of the DAS design and development team. Denel Aviation will be responsible for the design and manufacture of the airframe production tooling and the aim is to embark on a first test flight program during the first half of 2007 with initial operational capability possibly being achieved during 2010.

It is common knowledge that our precious marine and coastal resources are under serious threat, that drug and other contraband smuggling across our long coastline is rife and that piracy in busy sea lanes is on a worldwide increase. We believe that, in conjunction with the SANís four newly acquired MEKO A-200 class corvettes and the Dept. of Environmental Affairs and Tourismís deep-sea patrol vessels like the recently delivered Sarah Baartman, the Denel Aerospace Systems Bateleur MALE surveillance UAV will soon form part of a credible deterrent to illegal operators and as such be an essential link in the protection of the RSA coastline and borders as well as playing a significant role in fulfilling national intelligence requirements.

Read more about this system in the 4th edition of Ad Astra!


By Maryke Lynn
Journalist, Ad Astra magazine

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