UMS Skeldar expects to sign contracts with two countries before year-end for its Skeldar V-200 vertical take-off and landing unmanned air vehicle, as the programme moves into the industrialisation phase.

David Willems, the company’s vice-president of business development, says militaries increasingly recognise that VTOL UAVs such as Skeldar are a mature technology.

He declines to offer more details about the two deals the V-200 is set to win, but says they should be announced by the end of 2019.

He adds that VTOL systems are easier to operate from ships and require a smaller footprint than fixed-wing assets. Fixed-wing UAVs generally require catapults for launch and special equipment for recovery.

Willems was speaking to Flight Daily News at the Saab stand. UMS Skeldar is a joint venture between Sweden’s Saab and Switzerland’s UMS.

The company announced an important milestone before the show, which Willems says is fundamental to the “industrialisation” of the programme.

The announcement involved contractor Scanfil producing and deploying the first examples of the V-200, effectively taking the small rotorcraft into line production.

Willems says Middle East countries are very interested in maintaining sovereign intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.

The V-200 has a maximum take-off weight of 235kg (518lb) and can carry a payload of 50kg. The company has received orders for small numbers of V-200s from the Canadian and German navies. Canadian special forces have also ordered the system.

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