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This Drone Is Perfect For Small Armies

March 22, 2019

The Zarek v2.

With territorial defense still the primary mission of ground forces today, investing in drones is paramount for any modernization program. When armies whose manpower totals 30,000 soldiers or less acquire an ISR capability at the battalion level or smaller, this marks a huge leap in a unit’s effectiveness. With small low altitude drones, for example, commanders are able to access better intelligence rather than just relying on maps and their own instincts. For missions involving a deployment to a remote or sparsely populated area, having a drone–or drones–at hand decreases the risks soldiers face and saves them valuable time.

One company from Spain, Star Defense Logistics & Engineering (SDLE), has gone farther than most European manufacturers by developing a whole range of dual-use UAVs, from handheld quadcopters to multimission fixed wing aircraft with VTOL capability that can loiter for nine hours.

The Zarek and Zarek v2, fully manufactured in Spain by the SDLE drone division (Aeronautica SDLE), are superb assets for commanders who need to reconnoiter their environment with light airframes that require little preparation and no preexisting infrastructure.  Developed in collaboration with the Technological Institute of Galicia (ITG), SDLE’s drone catalog is meant for civil use although these have national security applications too.

The Zarek v2 in particular is best utilized for surveillance over a large area, being able to fly 100 kilometers from its operator and land in any terrain regardless if a paved airstrip or helipad is available. Weighing less than 25 kilos and with an endurance of nine hours–the maximum flying time among UAVs of its type–and a cruising speed of 100 kilometers per hour, the Zarek v2 is hardly a logistical burden. This fixed wing VTOL can be piloted from a command post or from a control station on the ground, allowing flights beyond the line of sight (BVLOS) with minimal human intervention, which reduces operating costs in each mission.

Rather than a twin-boom airframe, the Zarek v2 has a propeller on the nose of its fuselage with a prominent T-tail allowing it to reach a 12,000 foot ceiling. As a hybrid design, the Zarek v2 supports two arms under its wings that hold separate rotor blades. Its VTOL capability is meant for launching from an unprepared site and, to extend its mission time, it’s possible to set way points the Zarek v2 can follow. By landing in designated areas along its flight path, the Zarek v2 is able to “rest” and then continue flying. This method allows the operators to observe a large area such as a border region or a city.

Of course, vertical landings are possible with the Zarek v2. SDLE are eager to export the model abroad and have presented it at regional exhibitions for maritime use. The biggest selling point for the Zarek v2 is its fully autonomous flight and the convenience of being able to land anywhere.

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