Denel Dynamics is formally denying it has supplied tactical surveillance unmanned aerial vehicles or target drones to Iran. That country recently launched a turbojet-powered drone, called the “Karrar.” This led to speculation that it might be a modified version of the Skua, the high-speed target drone, developed and produced by Denel Dynamics.
“There is no truth in reports that we have sold such products to Iran,” says Tsepo Monaheng, cxecutive manager UAV Systems at Denel Dynamics in a statement. “We have also not transferred technology on the Skua to Iran or any other country. All our sales are carried out within the provisions and guidance of the regulatory framework of the country at all times.”
“We maintain very good relationship with all our customers, keep careful records of all our sales and we know exactly where all our products are, Monaheng added. He says the speculation is based on “very superficial analysis” of photographic and video material. “The trained eye will be able to see significant differences in design between the Skua and the Karrar.
The Skua is a high-speed target drone, designed to simulate attack aircraft during land, sea and air combat training exercises and weapon development. The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has a maximum speed of Mach 0.86, a controllable range of 200km and a payload capability of 160kg. Media reports said the Karrar by contrast had a range of 1000 km, a speed of 900km per hour and could be armed with four cruise missiles or a payload of either two 250-pound (113-kg) bombs or one of 500 pounds. It could also be used for reconnaissance and for testing Iran’s missile defences, Iranian state television said.
The Skua has a high wing (the fuselage “hangs” from the wing) with the engine underneath the fuselage, while the Karrar has a low wing (fuselage is on top of the wing) and has an engine above the fuselage. A UAV expert says the Karrar appears to contain elements taken from a variety of designs – including the tail and vertical stabilisers of the Skua. But the majority of the design appears to be taken from the Italian Galileo Mirach 100 and 500 designs as well as those of the US Northrop Grumman corporation and elements of Chinese aerospace technology.
A key feature of the Skua is that it can be easily recovered by means of a parachute system and able to land on pneumatic landing bags and, thus can be used a number of times. One of the drones operated on behalf of the South African Air Force has been successfully recovered 36 times and is still going strong. This demonstrates the maturity of the product, Denel says in its statement.
“The UAV-industry is one of the fastest growing markets in the aerospace industry and Denel Dynamics is widely-known and respect for its design and production quality. In addition to its military applications our tactical UAVs can also be used to monitor activities in the fishing, mining, oil pipeline and wildlife conservation sectors.”