Athens: A year after introducing the Archytas, specifically designed for reconnaissance and surveillance missions, The Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI) is close to selling a surveillance drone to the Greek Ministry of Defence, according to a media report.
The Archytas was initially showcased at the International Exhibition of Thessaloniki by the company’s executives last year, with plans for the first pre-production model to undergo a test flight in March 2024. The development has progressed at a faster pace than anticipated and HAI expressed its confidence that the government is likely to initiate an order after the completion of the flight test and cost estimate.
Anastasia Alexopoulou, a senior sales executive, speaking to media at the Dubai Air Show stated, “We are now planning for it to take its first flight before the year-end or by early January 2024.” She highlighted the perceived urgency from defence authorities to expedite the Archytas program.
Boasting of the capability to remain airborne for up to four hours, the Archytas drone can carry payloads exceeding 14kg (31 lbs). HAI’s strategy is to first introduce the surveillance drone domestically before targeting international markets. During the DEFEA defence fair in Athens in May, Croatia reportedly expressed interest in the Archytas system, indicating potential international demand.
HAI’s progress on another drone model, the Grypas (Griffin) designed for combat, despite this positive development, faces different challenges. According to Alexopoulou, production of the Grypas prototype will only commence upon securing a first customer. Though it is expected that the Greek Armed Forces will be the initial buyer, no official agreement has been confirmed at this point.
The first phase of the Grypas project is still on track as the company remains optimistic and expects to conclude it within the next two years, resulting in the production of a scaled version of the combat-oriented drone. The developments underscore HAI’s increasing prominence in the drone manufacturing sector and its efforts to cater to both domestic and international defence needs.
In January, Greece built a second, more advanced drone, the Griffin, using the expertise gained from the “Archytas” program. The Memorandum of Cooperation for financing the new drone was signed by HAI, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Democritus University of Thrace, University of Thessaly, and University of Patras. The program for constructing the drone was initiated leveraging the collaboration with specialised officers from the Armed Forces. The Minister of National Defence at the time, Nikos Panagiotopoulos, expressed confidence in the coordinated start, allowing Greece to surpass neighbouring countries in developing the new product efficiently.