B-Cat Military refining Pathfinder unmanned ground vehicle
South African company B-Cat Military has further developed its Pathfinder unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), which is now amphibious and available in six or eight wheel configuration. The company is offering the vehicle to the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). B-Cat Military’s Boetie Brink told defenceWeb that the vehicle is now amphibious and can travel at 5 km/h and carry a 300 kg payload in water. Since unveiling the vehicle at the 2014 edition of Africa Aerospace and Defence, B-Cat Military has made a number of improvements to the vehicle, such as making it available in either six or eight wheeled configuration. Size has increased slightly (the vehicle was 1.7 metres long, 1.1 metres high and .8 metres wide) while reliability, manoeuvrability and battery power have improved. The vehicle has been successfully tested with a 12.7 mm Rogue remote control weapons system supplied by Reutech, but integrating a higher calibre weapon onto the platform is also on the cards as per potential client requirements. Brink told defenceWeb that in terms of sensors the Pathfinder can be fitted with night vision and thermal imaging cameras as well as radar, but as the vehicle has been designed for a multitude of roles it can be fitted with different equipment clusters, such as medical evacuation equipment, ammunition and supplies, etc. Brink said this makes the platform highly versatile and able to accomplish tasks such as base protection, border management, crowd control, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) detection, surveillance, medical evacuation etc. B-Cat Military is in discussions with the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) regarding the system and is fine-tuning the vehicle based on SANDF requirements and feedback. Brink said the Pathfinder is ideally suited to patrolling South Africa’s thousands of kilometres of borderline. Although B-Cat Military is in discussions with potential foreign clients as well, Brink said that the company is proudly South African and would focus on the local market first. The Pathfinder evolved from a civil version used as an unmanned mining vehicle for exploring blasting areas in mines. The Pathfinder can be remotely operated at distances of between 400 metres and five kilometres, terrain and communications systems dependant. Its battery allows for ten hours of operation, but the battery pack can be switched out for continuous operation. B-Cat Military offers the Pathfinder with a Command Control Station (CCS) and battery packs or can supply it with a Command Control Vehicle (CCV), such as a Toyota Land Cruiser or Mercedes Sprinter. This would be fitted with a control station, recharging point and quick offload tray. The Pathfinder can also be aircraft deployed.