Categorised as strategic defence product by MoD
Avionics Services is temporarily focusing on the commercial applications of its Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) HERON-derived CACADOR unmanned air vehicle (UAV), as a request for proposals (RfP) from the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) for the full scale acquisition of a system in this category continues to be postponed.
Under current planning, the FAB is set to require 10 UAV systems, which in the case of the CACADOR will comprise 20 aircraft and ten ground control stations. The RfP that would lead to a competition to acquire a medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV was due at the end of last year, but is now touted for release in June.
However, financial restraints on Brazil have led to a number of delays, so the CACADOR team is concentrating on providing by-the-hour services, which includes the Brazilian federal police, as well as potentially Petrobras and environmental monitoring groups in the Amazon in the near future, Joao Batista Vernini, CEO of Avionics Services, told Monch.
The federal police is testing one system – comprising two aircraft and one GCS – at the moment, which includes a satellite communications link that could be of interest to the air force if it chooses to acquire the system.
Brazil operates one Elbit Systems HERMES 900 system, which is in the same category as CACADOR, and is expected to be pitched for the requirement as well.
“We are talking to the Brazilian Air Force and Navy, but less so the army, because they require a different type of system,” Vernini said. “The FAB is ready to put in place an RfP…which it has promised will be out before June.”
The Brazilian Navy anticipates using a system like this for sea and border patrol, while the FAB wants to be able to provide overwatch of the whole of Brazil. Vernini notes that while the requirement is for ten systems, the CACADOR would be able to provide full surveillance over Brazil with only four.
HERON and CACADOR are not carrier-suited, but the navy has expressed an interest in this before. Vernini said that instead of the UAV being integrated into a carrier, it could operate from land, but fly over the sea and be operated from a GCS in a vessel.
During the World Cup in 2014, the FAB, navy and federal police operated CACADOR from the Sao Pedro naval base in Rio, and demonstrated some naval operations, as well as an ability to pass over communications from one control station to another using its SATCOM link. This capability – plus its automatic takeoff and landing – distinguishes the UAV from the rival HERMES 900 system, Vernini says.
Another area of development for the UAV is in airspace integration, and Avionics Systems is exploring adding identification systems like ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast) and TCAS (Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System) into the UAV so that it can operate alongside manned traffic.
The system was also the first UAV to be categorised as a strategic defence product by the Brazilian Ministry of Defence in March, which could help place it in good stead with the air force and navy when it comes to a selection for their requirements.
Additionally, Avionics Systems is looking regionally to Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, and Peru to see if the CACADOR can fit any of their requirements. Operating a common system in the region could help reduce training and spares provision costs, Vernini notes.