Sep 10, 2010
New Iranian unmanned warplane not a SA copy, except, maybe, for the tailplaneBack
Denel|Denel Dynamics|Raytheon|America|Brazil|Islamic Republic Of Iran|South Africa|United States|Jan Wessels|Skua
© Reuse this
At first glance, the Karrar bears a striking resemblance to the Skua, but a closer look reveals very considerable differences, points out Denel Dynamics CEO Jan Wessels. “On the Iranian UAV, the wings are underneath the fuselage and the engine is on top; on the Skua, the wings are above the fusel-age and the engine is underneath.” These are very significant and fundamental design differences.
“To our experts, most of the Iranian machine’s design features look rather as if they come from the Raytheon MQM-107 target drone,” he reports. “The Iranian aircraft shows typical US design features.”
The reason for the initial impression of similarity between the Iranian and South African designs is the tailplane. “The tailplane on the Karrar looks as if it was cut-and-paste from our design,” says Wessels. “We’ve got absolutely no aerospace and defence dealings with Iran, in strict adherence to South African arms export laws. But the Iranians could easily have photographed Skuas at the various international air shows we exhibit at.”
The Karrar – the name means ‘strike’ in the Farsi language – was unveiled on August 22 and appears to be a rather basic armed UAV. Iranian officials stated that it could attack a target 1 000 km away, carrying a 500-lb (roughly 220 kg) bomb.
The MQM-107 was originally developed in the early 1970s by the Beech company, in America, as a subsonic target drone for the US Army (Beech was subsequently taken over by Raytheon). It is launched from a zero-length launcher (as are most target drones) using a solid-fuel rocket booster, and is powered in flight by a small jet engine.
The original version, the MQM-107A, was exported to prerevolutionary Iran during the 1970s. The wings of the MQM-107 are underneath the fuselage, although the engine is also located below the fuselage, not above it. It has a conventional tailplane design, totally different from the Skua and the Karrar, the single fact that has created confusion about the antecedents of the Iranian design. It is believed that the Iranians re-engined their MQM-107As in the 1980s, using French engines.
The MQM-107 remains in service with the US armed forces, in its MQM-107D and MQM-107E versions.
The Skua was originally developed by Denel Dynamics (then known as Kentron) as a reconnaissance drone in the 1980s, but was converted to the role of high-speed target drone in the 1990s. It has since been employed as a target drone by a number of customers, in support of air-to-air and surface-to-air missile firings.
South Africa’s Umkhonto surface-to-air missile (another product of Denel Dynamics) has been qualified by the South African Navy using the Skua. The A-Darter air-to-air missile (being jointly developed by South Africa and Brazil, with Denel Dynamics as the lead South African company) will soon be tested against the Skua. The A-Darters will be launched from South African Air Force Saab Gripen fighters.
There will be two kinds of tests. Direct attack mode will be used to simulate attacks on tightly manoeuvring targets, while in towed-target mode the A-Darter will be fired against targets towed on a cable behind the Skua. After each mission, the Skua is recovered by para-chute.
Denel Dynamics has never considered the Skua – or any other drones in the same category – to be viable as the basis of an effective armed UAV, as they are not stealthy designs and would not be able to penetrate any modern air defence system.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines
Other News This Week News
Updated 44 minutes ago Canadian clean energy fuel cell specialist Ballard Power Systems on Thursday announced that it had signed a nonbinding memorandum of understanding (MoU) with European bus manufacturer Van Hool, in support of the manufacturing and further deployment of zero-emission...
Updated 58 minutes ago Following Cabinet approval this week, the Department of Communications (DoC) on Friday published South Africa’s long-awaited broadband plan to close the nation’s broadband gap. The much-revised National Broadband Policy, Strategy and Plan, also known as ‘South...
Updated 1 hour 27 minutes ago Consulting engineering firm GIBB on Thursday announced its proposed acquisition of a major interest in architectural firm Stauch Vorster International to create a multidisciplinary firm that would have the ability operate in a range of public, commercial and...
Recent Research Reports
Defence 2013: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2013 Defence Report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key players in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the defence sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial...
Road and Rail 2013: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2013 Report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move...
Liquid Fuels 2013 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2013 Liquid Fuels report examines South Africa’s liquid fuels market, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing,...
Projects in Progress - Second Edition (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s second Projects in Progress supplement considers some of the major project developments under way, including high-profile energy and transport projects, as well as a few of the lower-profile public and private developments. What remains apparent is...
Water 2013: A review of South Africa’s water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2013 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
Canadian Mining Roundup for June 2013 (PDF Report)
The June 2013 roundup includes details of the development of TSX-V-listed Aldridge Minerals’ flagship Yenipazar polymetallic project, in Turkey; the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s renewal of Cameco’s uranium mining licence pertaining to the Cigar Lake...
This Week's Magazine
Mitsubishi Motors South Africa (MMSA) has introduced a 4x2 derivative of its Pajero Sport sports-utility vehicle (SUV), which will give it access to a substantial slice of the full-size SUV market, where it will compete with the likes of the Ford Everest, Chevrolet...
South African Energy Minister Ben Martins has affirmed that the government wants the country to be globally competitive in the nuclear sector. "Our responsibility has always been ... to ensure that, in nuclear energy, South Africa can compete with the rest of the...
Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) president and CEO Dr Martin Zimmermann describes the new S-Class as “a special place to be”, with the car creating a sense of “wellness” once you are seated inside the German brand’s flagship model. It is difficult to argue...
Water scarcity and water-quality issues are broadly recognised and understood in most political, business and civil organisations in South Africa, but solving water issues will require wide and continuous action in catchments and municipalities by organisations and...
Work is well under way on the R212-million Imvutshane dam, 30 km north-west of Stanger, in KwaZulu-Natal, which is a key link in supplying people in rural Maphumulo with a reliable source of safe drinking water.