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Thailand buys Dominator drones

Photo: Aeronautics Ltd


The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) and the Israeli company Aeronautics Limited have signed a deal for the sale of Dominator XP medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). The contract covers an unknown number of UAVs, plus ground control stations (GCS) and accompanying services over a period of three years, with a price tag of $27m.

The Dominator XP is the second Aeronautics-made UAV system to join the RTAF inventory after the air arm received six Aerostar drones. These entered service in 2012. More recently, the Thai armed forces took delivery of four Elbit Systems Hermes 450 UAVs that serve with the 21st Aviation Battalion, Royal Thai Army.

The Dominator XP is based on the Diamond DA42 Twin Star four-seat twin turboprop, which is already in RTAF use for training applications. As a drone, it can carry a payload up to 900lb (373kg) and can fly for as long as 28 hours at 75-190kts up to a maximum altitude of 30,000ft (9,100m).

The UAV can carry multiple payloads via an open architecture interface, including electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) and hyper-spectral sensors with laser pointer and designator, a maritime radar, synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target identification (SAR/GMTI) radars, communications relays systems, communications intelligence/electronic intelligence (COMINT/ELINT) packages, magnetic anomaly detector (MAD) and others. According to unofficial sources, the UAV can also carry light ordnance such as small bombs and missiles. For maritime missions, the radar can detect small targets in high seas, and it can operate in sea-search mode, using inverse synthetic aperture radar (ISAR) and SAR modes combined with search and rescue transponder beacon detection and an automatic identification system (AIS). Noam Menashe

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