It’s not a bird, not a plane – it’s the world’s first unmanned combat drone that can hit speeds of more than 1,500mph (or Mach 2.1)! This super sleek alien-like structure is much bigger than your average drone – it actually resembles a small spaceship. This drone is called the “Arrow”, and it has a surprising Singapore connection.
This dangerous-looking beauty was actually designed at Seletar Aerospace Park by Kelley Aerospace, specifically for multiple combat, surveillance, intelligence, target acquisition, or reconnaissance roles. The craft’s monocoque design and proprietary carbon fibre material (the first of its kind in the world) endows it with outstanding strength and stiffness, and is designed for reduced radar cross-section and infrared signature, according to the company.
The drone is able to fly almost 5,000km with a maximum take-off weight of 16,800kg and still reach speeds of Mach 2.1. According to the company, it’s designed to complement manned aircraft to be a force multiplier in the aerial battlefield.
Since its official launch, this supersonic unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) has received 100 pre-orders, which is in the market for between $9 million and $16 million (the company touts it as a “relatively low price”).
The craft will also be built at Seletar, which gives ‘Made in Singapore’ a boost in the field of aeronautics. This isn’t their first drone either – they also created the Black Eagle, which is another subsonic UAV. Kelley Aerospace aren’t done game-changing either – at a launch event in December 2020, they announced the development of a supersonic business jet, dubbed the Supersonic Business Transporter.
If you’re thinking of plane-spotting in Seletar, forget it – test flights of a scale prototype were conducted in Israel in 2014 (although a full-scale testing of the drone is set to take place in early 2021). And the two prototypes of its supersonic business jets are undergoing testing in the USA and Sweden.
A Singapore connection to the world
Kelly Aerospace, established in Singapore in 2008, targets the private travel market and performs aircraft retrofits. The company’s also looking to create more than 250 new jobs at its local base, and hopes to take in local aviation professionals, some of whom have been axed amid a pandemic-led downturn, and train them in the areas such as composites manufacturing – they’re targeting to build up a fleet of about 100 business jets by 2024!