UMEX 2022: Insitu is engaged in discussions with a number of Arab Gulf nations with eyes on joint research and development projects, including proposals to build building on the capabilities of some of its current unmanned aerial vehicles in service in the region, particularly the Integrator.
“We are well into discussions with our numerous partners among our customer base in the region to ensure, first, that we understand what their localization requirements are,” David Fluker, Insitu’s international business development executive, told Breaking Defense Tuesday at the Unmanned Systems Exhibition and Conference (UMEX) in Abu Dhabi.
“We are working diligently with our customers that require localization to make sure that we can achieve” company goals, Fluker added. While he declined to name the countries Insitu is talking with, ScanEagle customers in the region include Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Lebanon.
Insitu displayed two of its UAVs, the ScanEagle, and its new Integrator ER (Extended Range), during the show.
Fluker said that Insitu is utilizing the miniaturization of sensors to enable its UAV platforms to deliver more capability despite their moderate size. This, he added, enabled the company to add more sensors to ScanEagle, making it a more capable UAV.
That miniature technology has been especially important for Integrator ER. “With just 20 klg of access payload capacity, the Integrator ER is already a multirole UAV, depending on how the customer wants to use this,” said Fluker.
Integrator and ScanEagle UAVs are already in service in several countries in the region. “We have a significant interest in the Integrator in the Gulf region,” said Fluker. “As we introduced Integrator ER, with beyond line of sight sat-com capability, it now takes the Integrator and pushes it out, not just to 280 kilometers, but up to 300-and-500 kilometers range.”
The sales pitch for the region: Extending the range and improving the sensors has pushed the Integrator to a higher category of UAVs, at a lower cost. Fluker compared Integrator ER’s capability to that of “group four or five” UAVs, the high-end capabilities such as Global Hawk that can provide full-motion video, but delivered at a cheaper price.
He stressed that “Integrator ER can fly undetectable, acoustically, and visually. You’re not going to see it and you’re not going to know it is there… If you want surveillance 24/7 at 500 kilometers [from a] UAV that can fly under the cloud undetected,” Integrator ER is the solution.
Speaking more broadly about the future of unmanned systems, Fluker joined with other voices at UMEX in predicting that artificial intelligence will slowly steadily dominate unmanned systems in the future.
“Any supplier must be looking at AI today because it’s going to be part of the solution, if not all of the solution, in the years to come,” he concluded.