ATHENS – Greece’s Defense Ministry is set to order the first surveillance drone made domestically, said manufacturer Hellenic Aerospace Industry, although it’s still seeking buyers for a combat model.
The imminent sale comes a year after the company showed off the first surveillance model, the Archytas, which is intended for reconnaissance missions as Greece is scrambling to catch up to Turkey’s drone making.
The Archytas was shown at the International Exhibition of Thessaloniki in 2022 when the company told Defense News it expected the first preproductionmodel to be ready for a test flight in March 2024.
The pace has since quickened, as the Greek ministry appears eager to fast-track development, HAI officials told Defense News at the Dubai Airshow, Greece playing catch-up with Turkey’s vaunted drone industry.
“We are now planning for it to take its first flight before year end or by early January 2024,” Anastasia Alexopoulou, a Senior Sales Executive told the site about the timetable.
“Although there is no official requirement yet, we have definitely witnessed a sense of urgency from defense authorities to speed things up for Archytas,” she said of the plans.
Company officials are “extremely confident” that the government will place an order following the flight test and cost estimate, she added.
Georgia Korontzi, a company representative, emailed Defense News stating that “the first flight of Archytas will take place in April 2024 and not in January,” in clarification of the date.
The Archytas drone can remain airborne for up to four hours and is capable of carrying payloads exceeding 14 kilograms (31 pounds). HAI’s intention is to sell it at home first and then capture international customers, the report said.
At the Athens defense fair DEFEA in May, North Macedonia and Croatia registered interest in the system, according to Alexopoulou, but there’s not been interest in the company’s Grypas drone, designed for combat.
“We will not produce a prototype of the Grypas until a first customer is secured, and for now, although we are hopeful it will be the Greek armed forces, nothing official has been secured,” Alexopoulou said.
The first phase of the project is still slated to conclude within the next two years, resulting in a scaled version of the aircraft as Greece tries to come up to speed with drone making given Turkey’s advantage.