Light UAV Corvo PPDS in Ukraine
Assembled UAV SYPAQ Corvo PPDS and delivery kits
At the beginning of the year, Australia began to supply Ukraine with disposable unmanned aerial vehicles manufactured by SYPAQ Systems. Corvo PPDS products are simple and cheap in design, but they can carry different payloads. The Kiev regime reports the use of such UAVs for various tasks, incl. to strike at important targets, but no confirmation or evidence is given.
Simple and cheap
The promising Corvo PPDS (Precision Payload Delivery System) UAV was developed by the Australian company SYPAQ Systems with the participation of the Australian Defense Forces Academy. The aim of the project was to create a light class aircraft with minimal cost and complexity of production, capable of making just one flight with a load of several kilograms.
Such design problems were solved by using ideas from the field of aircraft modeling. Glider drone made of foam board and equipped with a commercially available propulsion system and controls.
In 2018-19 the development company built a smaller version of the promising Corvo and demonstrated it to a potential customer in the face of the Australian armed forces. It was assumed that such UAVs would find application in logistics - with their help it was proposed to deliver the necessary supplies to the front line or to hard-to-reach areas.
As a result of these events, an order appeared to continue the development and preparation of a full-fledged production of new UAVs. The contract worth 1 million Australian dollars (more than 600 thousand US dollars) was signed in March 2019.
UAV on launch catapult
In the future, SYPAQ repeatedly talked about its successes within the Corvo PPDS project, and also showed such UAVs at various exhibitions. Apparently, she managed to establish mass production of drones and assembly kits, but until recently, there were no details about this. In addition, it was not reported about the start of full-fledged deliveries of equipment to certain customers.
Deliveries to Ukraine
In early March, SYPAQ Systems announced the start of deliveries of Korvo products to Ukraine. Soon the equipment went into operation, and already on March 20, the German publication Bild spoke about the first experience of its use. It also revealed the approximate characteristics of the new UAVs and their areas of use.
According to Bild, Ukraine receives a hundred Australian UAVs every month. They arrive as assembly kits, including foam board sheets for the airframe and the necessary electrical and electronic components. Direct assembly is carried out by local specialists.
By the time of publication, Australian UAVs had completed approx. 60 sorties. Issues of conducting reconnaissance and delivery of small cargoes were worked out, incl. light ammunition. However, details of the application and its results were not given.
New information about the combat use of Corvo PPDS appeared in open sources in June. Then, in the combat zone, a Ukrainian UAV with a payload in the form of a MON-90 mine and a VP-2a radio fuse was shot down. In this configuration, it turns into a kamikaze drone and is able to attack targets with known coordinates. At the same time, one could expect the appearance of other variants of the combat load.
Corvo in flight
On August 27, Ukrainian propaganda disseminated reports of an alleged UAV attack on a Russian airfield near the city of Kursk. It was alleged that a large number of drones were able to break through our air defense and hit a number of aircraft and several air defense systems.
However, enough time has passed since the alleged strike, and no news no incidents were reported at the airport. The Ukrainian side has not yet provided any evidence. Moreover, foreign commercial operators have already published fresh satellite images of the airfield without any damage.
The well-known Fighterbomber blog reported that such an attack actually took place, and it used disposable Australian-made UAVs. If this is so, then the Corvos showed extremely low combat effectiveness - if one can talk about it at all in the absence of any noticeable result.
Cardboard in the air
SYPAQ's Corvo PPDS is a lightweight aircraft-type UAV capable of solo flight and light payload. The main feature of this drone is the airframe material. To reduce the cost of production and simplify logistics, it is made of foam board and is a set of box-shaped and curved elements.
Structurally, the UAV is divided into a fuselage and a wing. The fuselage has a box shape and a polygonal nose fairing that accommodates the propeller group. The tail boom is virtually absent; the plumage includes only the keel, located directly behind the wing. A straight wing with simple mechanization is used. It is attached to the fuselage with a rubber band.
The wreckage of a downed UAV with a MON-90 mine, June 2023
The dimensions and weight of the device were not reported. The total length does not exceed 1 m, the wingspan is up to 2 m. The payload, depending on the configuration, reaches 3-5 kg. At the same time, the MON-90 mine, seen earlier on one of the UAVs, weighs more than 12 kg. Thus, the takeoff weight of the device with different loads can be estimated at no less than 10-15 kg.
"Corvo" is equipped with an electric motor and battery of unknown models. The flight speed is not specified. Range - from 40 to 120 km; flight duration - up to 3 hours. The launch is carried out using a catapult. Soft landing, due to the design features, is not provided.
At the stage of demonstration tests, it was reported that the Corvo PPDS has only an autopilot and flies according to a pre-compiled program. There is no remote control. Apparently, on-board automation uses satellite navigation.
The SYPAQ Corvo PPDS multi-purpose lightweight UAV is of particular interest from a technical point of view, primarily in connection with the manufacture of the airframe from a specific material. This approach to design provides certain advantages, but entails limitations and disadvantages. Accordingly, the overall result may be far from expected.
UAV "Corvo" is convenient and successful in terms of production and logistics. Cheap airframe material and inexpensive components are used. The device can be delivered to the operator in the form of a set of sheets and parts for self-assembly. There is a theoretical possibility of producing equipment in large quantities.
Wing and fuselage connection
With all this, the foam board glider has limited strength. Such a design has a load capacity limit, and scaling to improve performance is only possible up to a certain level. The survivability of such a glider in combat conditions raises questions - even small arms can harm it weapon, although not all holes will be fatal.
The UAV has only an autopilot for flying along a given route. This sharply limits the range of tasks to be solved. In particular, there is no possibility of attacking moving targets with previously unknown coordinates. In addition, simplified satellite-only electronics are vulnerable to electronic warfare. If the GPS signals are jammed, the aircraft will not be able to continue flying.
Without a remote control system and optics, the Corvo PPDS can only carry cargo or ammunition. At the same time, the first application option is not efficient due to the limited carrying capacity, and the second one provides work only on fixed targets. In both cases, the potential of the UAV is limited, and the low cost may not always justify it.
Inexpensive and useless
Thus, yet another foreign state provided the Kyiv regime with "high-tech" military assistance - UAVs of a characteristic appearance with specific capabilities. It was assumed that the product SYPAQ Corvo PPDS will become massive and will help Ukrainian formations to solve various problems. In particular, they even tried to use such drones in a strike role.
However, the real results again fell short of expectations. This outcome is associated with the very limited potential of the UAVs themselves and with active opposition from the Russian side. Not the most advanced drones are suppressed or intercepted - and their "victories" can only be observed in the foreign press and in Ukrainian propaganda.
- Ryabov Kirill
- SYPAQ Systems, Telegram / "Goodwill Revenge"
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