By Douglas Hernández
One of the programmes launched by Airbus Spain in cooperation with CIAC of Colombia is the SIRTAP ((Sistema RPAS Táctico de Altas Prestaciones, or High Performance Remotely Manned System). During Expodefensa EDR On-Line met Mr. Víctor de la Vela, Airbus Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, in order to gather the latest information on the programme. According to the company the SIRTAP is a modern UAV with a MTOW of 750 kg, with high technology contents, and features that would have nothing to envy to similar systems currently in use, and which the SIRTAP would come to face in this competitive market.
It is expected that the SIRTAP will be replace the UAVs currently in service in the Spanish Armed Forces, and that this development will break the European dependence on American and Israeli equipment, covering the demand for aircraft of this category, both from Spain as well as from other countries in the region. “What not everyone knows is that there is a government-to-government cooperation agreement between Spain and Colombia, to jointly develop this UAV, certify it and market it, exploiting comparative and competitive advantages of the two parties, for the common benefit,” Mr de la Vela said.
For Colombia it is no-doubt a great opportunity, which allows the companies of the Defence Social and Business Group (GSED) to work in “the big leagues” hand in hand with a company of the size, trajectory and experience of Airbus. Beyond the economic and commercial benefits that Colombia can achieve, the most important thing is the know-how that is acquired, and that will allow other even more ambitious projects to be tackled in the future.
Unfortunately for Colombia, something is wrong with the project. Other priorities appear to have emerged demanding funding, and SIRTAP has been put on hold. “We already have the general concept of what we want, the technical characteristics of the aircraft are defined, the approximate number of UAVs that Spain and Colombia would require as a necessary replacement for those they currently use is known, and there are even detailed market studies on the potential demand for this aircraft worldwide, and the role that SIRTAP can play on the market,” the Airbus representative said. Today everything is at a standstill because governments have not been able to provide the resources to start the development of the system.
From a cost benefit point of view, this project is very important for Colombia. The President of Colombia Ivan Duque and his Minister of Defence, Diego Molano, said at the inauguration of Expodefensa 2021, to be very interested in international cooperation in the security and defence sector, to contribute to the reactivation of the country’s economy. Starting the SIRTAP project could be an important step in that direction.
Photo courtesy D. Hernández