IDEX 2023: Resource Industries: not only autonomy
Among UAE major defence companies we find Resource Industries, which has a commercial side, as it represents numerous foreign defence producers, through licence and joint ventures, as well as an R&D and production side, systems of its own design being part of its considerable portfolio. Active in land systems as well as in aerial systems, in the former field it is producing vehicles based on Tatra chassis for the UAE armed forces, and has strong links with the French industry. In its display area at IDEX a Nexter Titus 6×6 was visible, as well as a Jaguar, the reconnaissance 6×6 armed with a 40 mm cannon developed and produced by a consortium formed by Arquus, Nexter and Thales, that is entering service with the French Army, which was shown for the first time at an exhibition outside France.
Moving to unmanned systems in the air domain, Resource Industries is developing the H500, a Chinook-like cargo UAS with a 500 kg maximum take-off mass and a maximum payload of 150 kg. Currently still in initial flight test phase, it is powered by a Rotax engine, which allows take-off operations up to 5,000 meters altitude. As for endurance, this of course varies from 8 hours with a 35 kg payload to 2 hours with 120 kg, while the operational range is 100 kg. It navigates autonomously via way-points, take-off and landing operations being also automatic, however a LIDAR is fitted for obstacle avoidance while an optronic package allows teleoperation, should the GNSS signal be jammed or spoofed. A scale model was exhibited at IDEX, the true H500 being 4.25 meters long and 1.695 meters wide, without the two-blade tandem rotors. According to information obtained, the prototype flew over 80 hours. The design is not fully frozen, as the skid landing gear will be redesigned, providing increased height to allow the handling of a ventral container that will be used for payload transport.
Another UAS designed by Resource Industries is the A3 Max, based on a conventional helicopter architecture capable to fly for one hour with a 15 kg payload, and to take off at an altitude of 5,400 meters. The A3 Max is definitely an attack UAS, as it can be armed with different payloads; a chin-mounted 5.56 mm machine gun, or two side-mounted rocket pods, or a simple launch system allowing dropping mortar bombs by gravity. It is available in two different versions, one with three tubes containing 81 mm or 82 mm bombs, and one with eight tubes for 60 mm bombs. The launcher is fitted under the belly, the single tubes being independently released on command, which allows them to rotate in vertical position letting the bomb falling by gravity, minimum drop altitude being 300 meters. At the front the UAS carries a gimbal hosting the optronic suite, which is used not only for navigation and sighting, but also to acquire targets for the loitering munitions that arm the UGV carrying the A3 Max.
The UGV platform is an 8×8 wheeled vehicle with hybrid propulsion and a range of 300 km, which can reach a speed of over 60 km/h on even ground. In all-electric mode it has a range of 20 km, and is 4.5 meters long and 2.3 meters wide. All four axles are steerable, allowing to reduce the steering radius as well as to move the vehicle in crab mode. At the rear the UGV is fitted with a landing spot for the A3 Max, while at the front it is equipped with a loitering munitions launcher, with two rows of five tubes each for a total of 10.
These host TY-3 munitions, which have an overall mass of 10 kg the warhead representing 25% of it. Powered by an electric motor moving a pushing propeller, batteries providing a 40 minutes endurance, the TY-3 has front wings hinged on top of the fuselage, the rear horizontal plane hinged under the fuselage, two vertical rudders being fitted to the rear, all of them foldable to allow the munition to fit into the 140 mm diameter launch tube. The munition seems pretty similar to the Chinese ZY-90. Overall the UGV with all the weapon systems carried by the vehicle itself and by the UAS provides a considerable firepower.
Graphics courtesy Resource Industries. Photos by P. Valpolini