China wants Swedish robo copters

Swedish CybAero lands order to deliver 70 systems of unmanned helicopters to China, over seven years, under a deal worth over US$100 Million

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CybAero APID 60 'Tier II' unmanned Vertical Take off and Landing Unmanned Aerial System (VTUAV). Aerovironment now plans to market this system in the US, positioning it to fulfil new requirements for responsive ISR in support of land and naval forces. Photo: CybAero
CybAero APID 60 'Tier II' unmanned Vertical Take off and Landing Unmanned Aerial System (VTUAV). Aerovironment now plans to market this system in the US, positioning it to fulfil new requirements for responsive ISR in support of land and naval forces. Photo: CybAero

The Swedish UAV company CybAero, which develops and sells unmanned helicopters, has landed an order from China worth over US$100 million (SEK 700-800 million) through an eight-year framework agreement. The order is dependent on an export permit being issued by the Swedish Agency for Non-Proliferation and Export Controls (ISP).

The order has been placed by a company in the Chinese aerospace manufacturer AVIC group. The company expects to deliver at least 70 systems of rotary-wing drones, to be used by customs, coastguard services and agriculture services.

Through the joint company, AVIC will target the civil and commercial markets – customs and coastguard services, the energy sector, agriculture, mapping and rescue services

The order is linked to a framework agreement, through which AVIC has committed to purchasing at least 20 helicopter systems during the first three years and at least a further 50 systems during the following five years. This gives a total order value of SEK 700-800 million, depending on the final design of the systems. Each system includes helicopters, ground stations and data links. The agreement also covers training and support.

“This represents a breakthrough in the market for the civil application of unmanned helicopters. Our goal is to become the global market leader with at least 30 percent of the global market. Through this order, which is our biggest to date, we’ve taken a significant step towards achieving this goal,” says Mikael Hult, CybAero’s CEO.

CybAero will establish a joint company with AVIC in order to gain access to its volumes and production expertise. In the long-term, the company may carry out some production locally in China for the Asiatic market. CybAero expects to achieve economies of scale through the joint company, which among other things will result in the further streamlining of operations and the potential to operate closer to the local Asiatic market.

Through the joint company, AVIC will entirely target the civil and commercial markets, e.g. customs and coastguard services, the energy sector, agriculture, mapping and rescue services, etc.

“A condition of the order for AVIC is the granting of a permit by the Swedish Agency for Non-Proliferation and Export Controls”

“The order is the largest ever anywhere in the world in the product segment within which CybAero operates, i.e. vertical take-off and landing unmanned aerial vehicles weighing less than 200kg. This order will be worth nearly SEK 100 million (US$14.8 mil) a year if we can turn out the orders over the eight years covered by the agreement. This will provide a stable basis for our entire business for many years to come,” says Mikael Hult, and continues:

“A condition of the order for AVIC is the granting of a permit by the Swedish Agency for Non-Proliferation and Export Controls, but we don’t anticipate there being any problem with this at present. We received an order from the Chinese customs authorities in January worth SEK 50 million (US$7.5 mil), and we have been granted an export permit for this order, which is more complex and technologically advanced. The equipment for which we have now received an order is part of our standard system,” says Mikael Hult.

Easy to maintain, robust and cost-effective, CybAero’s unmanned helicopters have a range of 20 miles and a flying time of up to six hours.