Engineering, logistics and construction company CADG has launched a new optionally piloted intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft based on the Ecarys ES-15 motorglider.
The Helix was launched at the recent Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition. It was developed with Stemme division Ecarys and South Africa’s S-Plane, which provides the X-Kit hardware and software that converts the ES-15 into an optionally piloted vehicle.
The Helix-1 system, which is operational, can be flown with a single pilot while the mission equipment is controlled from the ground station, while the Helix-2 can take the pilot out of the cockpit entirely. Helix-2 is undergoing flight-testing. The aircraft at AAD was fitted with a Hensoldt Argos II camera and two hardpoints that can take external fuel tanks. Sensor data is transmitted to a ground control station out to a range of 200km (108 nautical miles), although the aircraft has a range of more than 2,000km (1,080 nautical miles). CADG is headquartered in Singapore, but has done a lot of work in the Middle East and Africa. It provides aviation services via South Africa-based sister companies Ultimate Air and Ultimate Heli. Ultimate Air is headquartered in South Africa and has Ultimate Unmanned Systems as one of its divisions. Ultimate Air previously launched the Viper 1000C UAV based on a Stemme motor-glider in 2016. Guy Martin