At Expodefensa 2023 Airbus exhibited a model of its SIRTAP UAV painted in the colours of the Colombian Aerospace Force (FAC). The company has been interested for several years in providing the FAC with this multifunctional asset, which would improve the capabilities possibilities, being a high-end tactical UAV
Regarding the new approach that the Colombian Ministry of Defence has given to Expodefensa, highlighting dual-use equipment, the SIRTAP (Sistema RPAS Táctico de Altas Prestaciones, high performances tactical unmanned air system) provides those dual capabilities, being able to fulfil a wide range of missions, adapted to the operational needs of the users.
The SIRTAP can operate in any weather condition, with a protection system against ice and protection against high temperatures, these allowing it to fly in a temperature range between -40 °C and +50 °C.
The UAV can carry a 150 kg payload, fly for more than 20 hours with a range of more than 2,000 km, at an altitude of 21,000 feet, day and night, fulfilling intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions on land or sea, offering the operator real-time information on the tactical situation.
The UAV can be disassembled into larger components, to facilitate its transport in standard containers, on aircraft such as the C295, which can carry two SIRTAPs in its cargo area. The Colombian Aerospace operates C295 transport aircraft as well as larger C-130 Hercules.
Among the missions that the Airbus SIRTAP UAV can carry out, we find:
- Advanced ISR
- Armed ISR: convoy escort, area surveillance, force protection
- Maritime Surveillance
- Electronic warfare: SIGINT, ELINT, COMINT
- Border surveillance: migratory flows and border security control
- Search and rescue: locating missing people in remote areas
- Surveillance of illegal activities
- Fight against Drug Trafficking
- Fight against Piracy
- Fight against Smuggling
- Support for fire fighting
- Monitoring and prevention of deforestation
- Environmental measurements
- Various scientific applications
- Transportation of small critical loads, such as vaccines or antidotes
For all of the above the SIRTAP represents a very good option for Colombia, significantly increasing its operational possibilities. The Airbus UAV has been contracted by the Spanish Ministry of Defence in late November 2023; Spain will receive nine systems, each of them being made of three UAVs and one ground control station. The overall value of the contract is 495 million Euros, and will also include two simulators.
Photos by D. Hernández