10-08-2012 12:37 Belarus
Belarus to batch produce UAVs
The Belarusian company Minsk Aircraft Overhaul Plant plans to start mass producing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), Yevgeny Vaitsekhovich, Director General of Minsk Aircraft Overhaul Plant, told media on 9 August.
There are plans to start batch production of the unmanned aerial vehicle Sterkh-BM in 2013. Several UAVs have been assembled so far. The company intends to make up to ten every year.
The Belarus-made aviation system comprises a control station, a maintenance station, and the UAV itself. The device can be controlled remotely by an operator or can fly on its own using an autopilot.
The Belarusian UAV weighs 65kg and boasts a cruise speed of 120 kmph. The top speed is 200 kmph, the max range is 240 km. The wing span of a Sterkh-BM is 3.8 meters, with the maximum flight altitude of 3 km. One UAV costs $250,000. If a complex involving several UAVs is bought, the final price can reach $1.5 million.
The unmanned aerial vehicle is powered by a gasoline piston engine. It acquires data via GPS. If necessary, it can use GLONASS. If GPS encounters problems, a ground-based module can mimic the signal.
It has cost about $500,000 to design the Belarusian unmanned aerial vehicle. Capital outlays were taken into account when the project’s effectiveness was assessed.
The Belarusian UAV is expected to be sold on the home market primarily to the Defense Ministry, the Interior Ministry, and the Emergencies Ministry. Minsk Aircraft Overhaul Plant has already sent the relevant proposals to the ministries. Besides, there are plans to promote the UAV onto the CIS and CSTO markets. There are plans to sell the unmanned aerial vehicle to Africa and South America.
The Belarusian UAV has the advantage of mobility, can take off, follow a route and land without operator’s assistance. Besides, the vehicle can take off virtually from any surface.
At present 15 people are employed in the assembly process. It takes six months to make one UAV.
Yevgeny Vaitsekhovich admitted that the Belarusian unmanned aerial vehicle will certainly have to face competition. The Soviet Union had been the supplier of unmanned aerial vehicles till the early 1990s, now the USA and Israel are in the lead. Unmanned aircraft will exceed the number of manned aircraft in these countries in the foreseeable future.