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AUVSI: Saab unveils latest UAV variant to North America

18th August 2011 - 14:42 by the Shephard News Team

Saab exhibited its Skeldar V-200 UAV for the first time in the US at the Unmanned Systems North America exposition just weeks after entering a bid for a US Navy ISR requirement.

Speaking to Shephard, company executives confirmed that Saab North America had submitted its offer on 14 July as part of the CSC bid. The maritime component of the navy requirement calls for seven Arleigh Burke class destroyers to be equipped with five or six air frames each in order to provide between 300 and 600 hours of full motion video a month.

According to the official Request for Proposals (RfP), a decision is expected in February. However, Saab business development director Johan Hansson said an announcement could be made as early as September or October this year.

It is understood that the US Navy is in a position to award up to four separate contracts for the requirement which also includes two land-based elements. It is also considering both VTOL and fixed-wing solutions.

'We supplied a technological package to the navy but there have been no demonstrations,' Hansson added while describing how Saab was getting ready to produce the air vehicle by the end of the year. He said the company would be in a position to manufacture around 100 air frames a year or more if required.

According to Brian Lawrence, VP for marketing, the US Special Operations Command is also interested in this 'class' of UAV and suggested that Skeldar could be put forward for the navy's Ship-launched Persistent Integrated Countermeasure Electronic Warfare (SPICE) requirement. A RfP is expected next year to be followed by research and development. Lawrence said a VTOL UAV would be a 'viable' solution for such a programme.

Finally, referring to potential for US Army VTOL capabilities, Lawrence said that the service had been 'sceptical' about it but attitudes had changed over the past six to 12 months: ''A160T and K-Max we hope will get confidence with VTOL and will open up an aperture for smaller versions such as Skeldar V-200,' he told Shephard.

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