South African defence company Milkor will supply the first of it’s all-new Milkor 380 medium-altitude and long-endurance unmanned system to the South African Department of Defence for testing and possible operationalization.
Milkor will build five airframes next year, and the maiden flight for the Milkor 380 UAV will also take place around the same time. It’ll join the Denel Dynamic’s Seeker series drones, Indiza hand-launched drone, and Denel Dynamics Skua target drone.
In South Africa, drones are increasingly being used for wildlife conservation and anti-poaching missions.
The Milkor 380 drone was one of the main attraction at the recent Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition, held in Pretoria, South Africa.
And according to South African-based defenceWeb, Milkor displayed the UAV alongside Al Tariq X-series precision guided munitions, Halcon Desert Sting DS-16 guided bombs, FZ602 laser-guided rocket launchers, and Airborne Technologies’ Self Contained Aerial Reconnaissance (SCAR) Pod.
Milkor noted that “Following a successful presentation of the Milkor 380 at the African Aerospace and Defence Exhibition in September of this year, international recognition on the Milkor 380 and its capabilities has been garnered from countries across eastern Europe and Asia.”
“During AAD, Milkor signed an MOU with the Department of Defence, Armscor and the South African Air Force illustrating their continued commitment to supply these systems and will manufacture five units during 2023 dedicated for South African use.”
The South African arms maker also added that it is “fully committed to building the capabilities required by various branches in the South African government by making the Milkor 380 available for use in South Africa.”
Daniel du Plessis, Business Development Manager at Milkor. “developing such a sophisticated platform in South Africa is a significant achievement for the defence industry,”
And that “Milkor has created an opportunity for the South African defence, security and intelligence sectors to source key equipment locally, eliminating the need to seek them elsewhere. It enables the South African government to reduce its reliance on foreign procurement and allows them to collaborate closely with local companies that can help build stronger defence and security capabilities, especially in the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) sector.”
According to Milkor, the Milkor 380 Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV is the largest UAV to be manufactured in South Africa and on the African continent.
The Milkor 380 UAV has a 35 hours endurance, and can carry a payload of upto 210 kg.
Milkor 380 medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV has a 18.6 metre wingspan, and is fitted with an L3Harris Wescam MX-15 multispectral electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) turret, and could also be fitted with Thales’ synthetic aperture radar (SAR) for maritime patrol applications, but gimbals of various sizes and weights can be fitted.
The Milkor 380 at AAD 2022 is also being showcased with an Airborne Technologies SCAR (Self-Contained Aerial Reconnaissance) pod which Milkor says is ideal for things like maritime surveillance, especially when used on conjunction with the gimbal. The SCAR pod can be fitted with many different sensors, but at AAD is displayed with a ViDAR (Visual Detection and Ranging) optical radar system.
Milkor’s UAV can be fitted with guided weapons and various payloads to perform multiple operations, such as SAR/ISAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar/Inverted Synthetic Aperture Radar), Communications Intelligence (COMINT), AIS (Automatic Identification System), communications relay, and communications jammer. The airframe includes five hardpoints: two on each wing and one at the centre of the fuselage, with the ability to carry larger systems if needed.
The first prototype is undergoing ground testing and integration with various ammunition using five hardpoints, and the second prototype is currently being manufactured”, says Ghaazim Rylands, CEO of Milkor Integrated Systems, a division of Milkor for manufacture and integration of the Milkor 380 UCAV.