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European RPAS summit

Expal presents capabilities of its Shepherd drone as an advanced observer

The Shepherd. Photo: Infodefensa.com

The Shepherd. Photo: Infodefensa.com

05/06/2018 | León

B. Carrasco

The Spanish company Expal on Wednesday showed the capabilities of its RPAS Shepherd as an advanced observer for indirect fire support systems at the European summit on remotely-piloted aircraft systems UNVEX S&D that took place in the northwestern Spanish city of León.

Expal’s head of product, Manuel Martín, told Infodefensa.com that the company was focused on a system specialized in target location that can operate jointly with equipment such as the Eimos 81mm mortar and will improve the knowledge of the situation on the ground.

The Shepherd features camouflage reminiscent of a bird of prey, providing it with greater stealth in surveillance missions. Weighing only 2.8 kilograms (6.2 pounds), this system belongs in the mini category. Takeoff is performed manually and it lands on the ground.

The body and wings are made of expanded polypropylene (EPP), while the tail and wingtips are made out of carbon fiber. It has three cameras: a frontal one for piloting and two fixed zenithal cameras that move according to the operator’s needs. One is for daylight, with an intensifier to explore illuminated areas at night, while the other is a thermal camera.

Navigation is automated, with a software that defines the flight plan and allows modifications to the mission in real time. Its autonomy is about one flight hour and it has a range of between 10-15 kilometers (6.2-9.3 miles) return. According to Martín, this range is perfect for a mortar shell, which usually reaches a distance of some 7 kilometers (4.35 miles).

With the Eimos mortar, the RPAS detects a target and sends its position via radio to the control station, being able to send video and data at the same time.

The Shepherd was one of the three systems flying over the Conde de Gazola military base on the second day of flight demonstrations, despite strong gusts of wind that reached speeds of up to 16 knots.

 

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