Thailand explores surveillance drone weaponization with RV Connex' Sky Scout-M
November 13, 2023
As reported by Asian Military Review on November 13, 2023, RV Connex, a Thai company, unveiled the Sky Scout-M, a weaponized version of its baseline Sky Scout unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The Sky Scout, also known as U1, has been operational with the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) since 2021, primarily used for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) purposes.
Wing 3 of the RTAF currently oversees the operation of the entire fleet of 19 U1s delivered in the past. The RTAF engaged RV Connex to explore the potential integration of weapons into these UAVs. Peeraphon Trakulchang, RV Connex's Vice President, provided details on the modifications made to address the RTAF's request for weaponization.
Developed over a span of approximately four years, the Sky Scout-M incorporates an integrated autopilot system developed by RV Connex and two hardpoints for weapons and other payloads. Displayed at the Defense & Security 2023 exhibition in Bangkok, the UAV was presented with integrated munitions, including Thales' Free Fall Lightweight Multi-role Missile (FFLMM) and the RASH-1M guided munition by ADASI, a subsidiary of the UAE Edge Group.
Enhancements also include strengthened wings, improved sensors with higher resolution, an upgraded flight control system, and a store management system. Although the development phase has concluded, RV Connex emphasized the necessity for further trials, specifically involving the firing of the integrated munitions. The successful release of two dummy bombs during a 2021 trial and ongoing discussions with the RTAF about potential supplies indicate the potential adoption of the Sky Scout-M in the Thai military.
According to specifications provided by RV Connex, the Sky Scout-M boasts a wingspan of 6.3 m and a length of 3.6 m. Powered by an engine sourced from Italy, the UAV features a speed of 58 knots, an endurance of 12 hours, and a service ceiling of 15,000 feet. The payload capacity of the baseline version is disclosed as 16 kg, with details about the modified version's payload capacity remaining undisclosed.
RV Connex's expertise extends beyond UAV development, encompassing a broad spectrum of defense and security solutions. These include Aircraft Design and Production, UAV Engine Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO), Autopilot Systems, Anti-drone Systems, and Target Drones for airborne threat testing. Innovations such as the Command & Control Air Defense System (C2ADS) for smart city management and the Image Intelligence Center (IMINT Center) for AI-driven analysis of satellite and aerial images were also highlighted.