AAD 2018: First full unmanned aerial system ASTUS developed by Tellumat

Tellumat, a South African leader in defence and security products, systems and services supply, introduced their ASTUS unmanned aerial system (UAS) to the market at the 2018 Africa Aerospace & Defence Expo in Pretoria.

The first full unmanned aerial system ASTUS by Tellumat at AAD 2018
ASTUS unmanned aerial system (UAS) at AAD 2018 (Picture source Army Recognition)

ASTUS is Tellumat’s first foray into full-scale UAS systems provision, having developed, manufactured and supported market-leading UAS sub-systems for more than 30 years.

The market introduction of ASTUS further entrenches South Africa’s position in the global UAS/UAV industry, says Willie Malan, senior product manager at Tellumat.

The ASTUS system

The ASTUS UAS is a medium-size, medium-range tactical surveillance UAV system, suitable for lengthy missions requiring real-time surveillance data collection and delivery for a variety of missions such as border and coastal security, environmental protection and peacekeeping. It can also be used in the training of UAS pilots for beyond line of sight operations of larger UAV’s.

The system integrates an aircraft, ground control system and camera payload capability, in a high-performance surveillance package that is robust, durable, easily transported, quick to deploy and easy to operate.

The ASTUS UAS has a minimum crew requirement of four, comprising a pilot, payload operator, safety pilot and an aircraft technician.

“With UAS demand taking off worldwide, ASTUS provides high-end UAV performance in a medium sized, cost-effective package” Malan says.

1. The aircraft

The ASTUS UAV has the following key features:

5.2-metre wingspan with 92 kg maximum take-off weight including payload
210 cc fuel-injected 2-stroke motor
8 hours flight time at 5,000 feet above sea level
Operating altitude – 9,000 feet; service ceiling – 14,000 feet
Dash speed – 80 knots; cruising – 55-60 knots; take-off – 40 knots; stall – 33 knots
Visibility and air traffic safety – navigation strobe lights; landing light; Mode S & ADS-B ATC transponder; VHF radio
Core avionics package – Tellumat-designed flight mission computer; sensor pack; health control unit; long-range C-Band video & data link system; commercial-off-the-shelf UHF backup data link; power management unit
Integrated long-range secure communication system supporting HD video & data downlink; control uplink exceeding 200 km line of sight

2. Payload capability

The ASTUS UAV can accommodate various types of payloads with a maximum mass of 10kg, including a best-in-class optical/thermal payload in the standard configuration (maximum diameter 250 mm) and a Tellumat-designed training payload.

Payload control and monitoring is available via the on-board Ethernet and serial data interfaces.

3. Piloting and control

The modular and portable ground control station (GCS) can be networked to allow control of the ASTUS UAV by more than one pilot and payload operator geographically separated across the mission area. It consists of an operator control unit (OCU) and ground data terminal (GDT) that offer flight and mission control management of the ASTUS UAV.

The robust OCUs are housed in a waterproof container and incorporate sunlight-readable, full-HD, touch screen monitors.

The GDT provides the long-range ground communication element of the UAS. It is incorporated into a small, tripod-mounted automatic GPS monitoring and precision positioning system, the robust and weather-proof AP-1100.

4. Auxiliary equipment

The ASTUS UAS is provided with all the necessary support equipment, operational spares and base spares to allow for extended operations without external support.

Your trusted UAS partner

Having developed, manufactured and supported UAS sub-systems since the mid-1980s, Tellumat embarked on a project to develop a complete UAS system in 2007.

Over the years, Tellumat has developed a family of UAS avionics including a flight mission computer, navigation sensor pack, health monitoring unit, new-generation digital data link and hardware-in-the-loop simulation (HILS) system.

Tellumat’s first prototype aircraft design and integration began in 2011, and a second-generation aircraft prototype was completed in early 2017, followed by the full-scale industrialisation of the UAS culminating in the market launch of the ASTUS at AAD 2018.

“The ASTUS UAS provides Tellumat with a new market offering to add to its already diverse defence and security portfolio of products, systems and services,” says Malan.

The ASTUS project further advances South Africa’s place on the world UAV/UAS vendor map. South Africa was an early entrant in the global UAS industry and ASTUS is a cost effective and complimentary offering to other established UAS systems available.

Already garnering export interest, ASTUS is poised to be a foreign exchange earner for the South African economy.