• Arrow hybrid UAV from Integrated Dynamics.

Arrow hybrid UAV from Integrated Dynamics. (Photo : Integrated Dynamics)

One of Pakistan's leading makers of aerial drones is exhibiting what it calls an "optionally piloted" airplane with military applications based on the basic design of an ultralight or microlight aircraft.

On display at the ongoing International Defense Exhibition and Seminar 2016 (IDEAS 2016), Pakistan's largest arms show, in Karachi is this manned/unmanned aircraft named "Arrow." The aircraft was designed and built by Integrated Dynamics, a Pakistani firm that provides design, consultancy and turn-key project commissioning for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems.

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"Arrow is a revolutionary new concept in aerial surveillance using an optionally piloted vehicle converted ultralight aircraft," said CEO Raja Sabri Khan.

What this means is Arrow can either be piloted by a human pilot inside the aircraft or piloted by remote control, much the same way as a UAV.

Khan said this lightweight aircraft is a field portable, "wing-fold system" that can be assembled in an hour. Khan described Arrow as having "great armament, payload delivery and stand-off surveillance."

The aircraft can remain airborne for up to 15 hours non-stop and is capable of persistent surveillance, even at night.

"The feature is not available in any other such system at this economic cost ... its price is not more than an expensive 4X4 jeep," said Khan.

He pointed out that Arrow is the result of 15 to 20 years of research work. The aircraft has a range of 250 kilometers and this range becomes "unlimited" if operated on a satellite system, according to Khan.

"You can operate it in any part of the world while sitting in Karachi."

It can fly even at night and the operator just feeds the data about the route it wants the drone to take and "sit back," he said.

As an armed aerial drone, Arrow can carry military weapons and equipment, presumably including a missile or a lightweight bomb.

"It can fly with a payload of 100-150 kilograms," he said.               

In its civilian guise, Arrow can be used by geologists and botanists for collecting earth or farm data. Khan noted this optionally piloted plane "can be packed in a standard truck-mounted 20-foot container."