Force elements from the Netherlands Special Operations Forces (SOF) are to evaluate an uplift in surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities with consideration of a small, vertical take-off/landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), MILITARY TECHNOLOGY has been informed.
According to company executives at UAV specialist Novadem, a single unit of its NX70 VTOL UAV is due to be delivered to the army’s Korps Commandotroepen or KCT SOF unit for an evaluation programme.
Speaking to MILITARY TECHNOLOGY at the Special Operations Forces Innovation Network Seminar (SOFINS) on 29th March 2017, Novadem sales manager, Johann Boucher described how the latest addition to its VTOL family (it already manufactures the larger NX110 quadrotor) would undergo a year-long assessment phase with Dutch units.
The NX70 would provide assault teams and reconnaissance teams with an organic, manportable over-the-hill capability with 45 minutes mission endurance and capability to be operated at a range of up to 3km, dependent upon Line of Sight and encrypted communications, Boucher added.
The 500 gram UAV comprises a triple payload (also weighing a total of 500g) including high definition day and low light cameras as well as thermal imaging (TI) camera, although an operator controlling the NX70’s ground control station will only be able to view one feed at any one time.
The electro-optical day camera comprises a 60 degree field of view with dual focus, while the TI camera provides operators with 640 x 480 resolution images and a 43 degree field of view.
Controlled by a handheld GCS in tablet form factor, the UAV can be carried in a single backpack for special reconnaissance patrols and ground assault force (GAF) operations, it was disclosed.
The NX70 boasts a top speed of 20 metres per second with maximum operating altitude of 2,000 metres, Boucher continued to describe. An integrated avionics package includes GNSS, altimeter, autopilot, inertial measurement unit, triple redundancy electronic navigation system and integrated 3G/4G connectivity as an option.
The communications suite operates across 5 and 2.4 GHz allowing for full digital transmission of video and data feeds. Imagery is encrypted up to AES 256 bits. The UAV relies upon a high capacity battery which can be easily switched out within seconds for rapid redeployment beyond 45 minutes, it was explained.
Describing the UAVs capabilities in line with SOF requirements, company officials added: “The NX70 can take-off and land from a car within a total of three minutes without having to get out of it before reaching a target 3km away."
"It can perform its missions regardless of rainy or dusty environments with its extended operational temperature coupled with its high wind resistance ensuring use in all conditions,” it was explained. The NX70 retains the capability to operate in wind speeds up to 65 km per hour and temperatures between -15 and 45C, Boucher concluded.
Novadem also used SOFINS to display its larger NX110 VTOL UAV which remains in service with the French Gendarmerie.