Greek drone maker nears first surveillance drone sale to Athens

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A year after unveiling Greece’s first surveillance drone, manufacturer Hellenic Aerospace Industry said an order from the country’s ministry of defense is imminent, while the company’s combat model is still looking for takers.

Executives unveiled the Archytas, intended for reconnaissance and surveillance missions, at the International Exhibition of Thessaloniki last year. The company told Defense News at the time that they expected the first pre-production Archytas model to be ready for a test flight in March 2024.

The pace has since quickened, as the Greek Ministry of Defense appears eager to fast-track the development, HAI officials told Defense News at the Dubai Airshow here.

“We are now planning for it to take its first flight before year end or by early January 2024,” said Anastasia Alexopoulou, a senior sales executive. “Although there is no official requirement yet, we have definitely witnessed a sense of urgency from defense authorities to speed things up for Archytas.”

Company officials are “extremely confident” that the government will place an order following the flight test and cost estimate, she added.

The Archytas drone can remain airborne for up to four hours and is capable of carrying payloads over 14kg (31 lbs). HAI’s intention is to sell it at home first and then capture international customers. At the Athens defense fair DEFEA in May, South Macedonia and Croatia registered their interest in the system, according to Alexopoulou.

The same progress still eludes 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.

The ambition of ramping up its domestic drone industry has been of particular significance for Greece in recent years, as the country remains intertwined in a historic rivalry with its neighbor Turkey, itself a drone powerhouse.

Elisabeth Gosselin-Malo is a Europe correspondent for Defense News. She covers a wide range of topics related to military procurement and international security, and specializes in reporting on the aviation sector. She is based in Milan, Italy.

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