Under the auspices of the Australian government’s military aid to Ukraine, the Australian firm Sypaq is busy delivering numerous examples of its Corvo Precision Payload Delivery System (PPDS) low-cost UAV.
These “cardboard” (actually, they are made from foam board) UAVs are supplied in flat packs, and they can be quickly assembled with engines and control systems by operators in Ukraine. Some 100 of these Corvo PPDS UAVs are being supplied every month.
Amanda Holt, Sypaq’s CEO, at LIMA 2023 in Langkawi, said Ukrainian forces are using them for a plethora of missions, often for ones never originally conceived by the aircraft’s engineers. For example, early-on operators were adding mobile phones and using their cameras set on FaceTime to provide real-time imagery of enemy-held terrain.
Because they are low cost, the UAVs are routinely used as loitering munitions when a weapon payload is added. These UAVs can carry a maximum payload of 6.6 pounds (3 kilogrammes) , and they have a maximum take-off weight of 14.3lb (6.5kg).
Being light and made of foam board, their radar cross-section is negligible. This makes them ideal for attack missions, especially as they fly rather quietly, especially when their engines cut out shortly before impact.
Operators use a computer tablet to input their mission parameters and, once launched, they do not require any supervision by an operator thanks to their use of GPS. They can also be used as decoys.
These UAVs are relatively cheap to make, yet they are still robust. Holes can be cut in them for special modifications, while damage can easily be fixed with tape. Rubber bands hold the wings to the airframe, which helps absorb shocks.
Some UAVs have achieved as many as 60 missions in Ukraine, while others are sent on ‘one-way’ missions.
This Corvo PPDS UAV was developed in conjunction with the Australian Defence Force, although that military has not acquired it for its own inventory to date.
by Gordon Arthur, Langkawi