Developed between the years 2003-2005, the S-100 is the last in a series of unmanned choppers developed by Schiebel since the late 1990’s. The S-100 is designed as a medium range (around 130km) light and maneuverable unmanned aerial vehicle. The S-100 is not the only VTOL UAV (see for example Honeywell’s Miniature Air Vehicle and Boeing’s Hummingbird), but controlling these vertical flying machines in mid air is a complex task that can be even more difficult than fixed wing drones. For that reason the designers of the S-100 equipped the vehicle with stabilized inertial navigation systems (INS), a global positioning system (GPS), and two modes of operation – one manual and one autonomous, which follows a preplanned route.
The S-100 is a versatile chopper capable of carrying a range of payloads including both day and night thermal comers (simultaneously), multi-spectral sensors, a synthetic aperture radar (SAR), a laser imaging radar (LIDAR) and a ground penetrating radar (GPR). All these payloads are supposed to enable the S-100 to perform a range of different missions including general surveillance, border patrol, fire control, target designation, damage assessment, mine detection (using GPR) and various marine roles. The S-100 can also perform civilian missions including search and rescue operations, aerial photography and even crowd control using tear gas.
The S-100 was already sold to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) army, which purchased 40 units and is already operating them in the Persian Gulf. Two other undisclosed costumers have also reportedly purchased several dozen S-100 at a cost of approximately $400,000 a piece.