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KZO (Kleinflugzeug für Zielortung)

The KZO (Kleinflugzeug für Zielortung, German for small aircraft for target acquisition) is a tactical UAS with a powerful 2-stroke gasoline engine. The KZO's main objective is to locate mobile threats and provide target locations for artillery. KZO replaced the German Army's other main UAV, Drohne CL 289. It is an unmanned aircraft especially suited for high speed reconnaissance missions. The gathered information is immediately available and can quickly be distributed in the command structure. KZO can operate to a distance of up to 140 km with a 35 kg payload for up to 5.5 hours at a time.

In modern conflicts, new situations can develop with little prior warning. Taking the necessary action at very short notice involves monitoring events at high speed and passing on the information gathered in real time to the appropriate levels within the command structure. Detailed knowledge of the tactical situation is a prerequisite for the success of any mission. The KZO was developed with these considerations very much in mind. KZO is a reliable system for high-precision reconnaissance targeting and damage assessment for in- theatre operations. The Taifun attack drone was a concept of an armed variant fitted with an intelligent millimeter-wave radar seeker that perform search and destroy attacks autonomously. It destroys its target with a hollow-charge warhead. However, the German Army decided against this concept in favor of the IAI Harop. Two electronic warfare variants have also been developed as the Mücke ("mosquito") and the Fledermaus ("bat"). KZO provides the real-time situational awareness needed to take charge of the mission before other systems and personnel arrive. It is operational under any weather condition, day and night. KZO can observe without being detected itself. It is small, made of composite material and designed for stealth operation. It has very low thermal, optical and acoustic signatures. Because of its jamming-resistant data transmission system, KZO can provide secure surveillance.

KZO has multiple launch options. It can be launched by booster or catapult, and land automatically by parachute and airbag. KZO can operate under stormy weather conditions. It is equipped with a de-icing system and the capability to be launched with cross-winds of 20 m/s. Booster-assisted launch is possible in winds of up to 15 m/s and in squalls of 10 m/s, regardless of the wind direction.

Since 2009, KZO served as a tactical UAS for the German Armed Forces in Afghanistan. UAVs delivered by Airbus Defence and Space for the German Armed Forces have proven their value in more than 1,000 missions over the years. KZO is extremely reliable and has been certified by the German Aviation Authorities.

It provides reliable aerial reconnaissance results in real time:

  • At any time of the day or night
  • In almost any weather conditions
  • Anywhere in the world in any climate
  • Over distances of 100 km or more under threat

These data are then evaluated online at a Ground Control Station and passed on to the appropriate levels of the command structure in sufficient time to permit an assessment (or reassessment) of the tactical situation.

The KZO system provides the operator and the tactical commander with a high degree of support in fulfilling the task of obtaining full situational awareness. The high mobility of the system and flexibility in preparation of the mission allows optimised adaptation to rapidly changing tactical situations. The high performance of the Ground Control Station gives maximum assistance to the operator during the tasks of mission planning, mission execution and aerial image analysis. The system is capable of providing the necessary data formats for many modern interoperable C4I networks and databases.

The armaments company Rheinmetall Defence Electronics (RDE) has been involved in military drone projects of the Federal Government in recent years. RDE has 60 drones of the Type "Small flight aircraft for destination location" (KZO) with a weight of 168 kg and a range of about 100 km to the artillery of the German Army, where it has flown since 2005. By 2018, the force still had ten complete systems and two training systems with a total of 44 aircraft. Some were in action in Afghanistan.

Their German deployment takes place at the locations Idar-Oberstein, Aachen/Eschweiler, Eutin, Lüneburg, Freyung, Füssen, Immendingen, Kusel, Mühlhausen und Gotha. The training for "KZO" takes place at the artillery school Idar-Oberstein. The "KZO" deliver georeferenced reconnaissance data with a high-resolution infrared camera. Forces can use terrestrial directional radio in the Radio-Line-of-Sight (RLOS) operation can be controlled without a direct visual connection. The German "KZO" are approved for category 2, according to which the flight operations in a (German) flight restriction area without separate operating licence is possible.

Take-offs and landings of the drones "are in a partially automated procedure". In at least 23 cases by 2019, it was necessary to repair landing damage, including during the training flight operation, and by 2013 18 "KZO" were lost. With price levels of 2007, the Bundeswehr calculates the costs incurred in this to EUR 54 million. The German "KZO" are also flown on the grounds of the Us Army's Joint Multinational Training Command in the Upper Palatinate. The three UAS models commonly used at JMTC by the German Bundeswehr to train – the KZO, the Luna and the EMT Aladin.

Wingspan 3.42 m
Length: 2.25 m
Launch weight161 kg
Payload weight35 kg
Max. airspeedapprox. 220 km/h
Typical speedapprox. 150 km/h
Endurance5.5 h
Max. service ceiling3,500-4,000 m above sea level
Data-link range>140 km
EngineTwo-stroke, 24 kW
Anti-icingHot air
UAV structureComposite-stealth material
LaunchBooster or catapult
LandingParachute and airbag
  • Fast reactions: provides real-time images and video, under all weather conditions.
  • Fast response: provides target coordinates directly to the artillery.
  • Mobile operations thanks to its flexibility: requires no local or fixed infrastructure. Operations can be carried out directly in theatre.
  • Undetected: extremely difficult to detect because of its very low thermal, optical and acoustic signature
  • Robust: cross-wind resistance of 20m/s, and anti-icing system
  • Flexible: booster or catapult launch and automatic parachute landing
  • Proven capability: more than 1000 successful missions by the German Armed Forces in Afghanistan since 2009.
  • Applications
  • Land surveillance
  • Search and rescue
  • Reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition
  • Convoy and VIP protection
  • Providing image and communications intelligence
  • Monitoring critical infrastructure and major events
  • Getting the whole picture
  • Ground Control Station
  • 3 workstations, dedicated respectively to:
  • Mission planning
  • Mission monitoring
  • Image evaluation
  • NBC-/(N)EMP-hardened shelter
  • C4I link
  • Storage of mission data for subsequent assessment
  • Ground Data Terminal
  • Link between Ground Control Station and the UAV
  • Jam-resistant data transmission in real time
  • Launcher Vehicle
  • Automatic pre-flight test
  • Booster-assisted launch in winds of up to 15 m/sec (+squalls of 10 m/sec) regardless of the wind direction
  • Catapult launch option
  • Refurbishing Vehicle
  • Supports maintenance level 2 (MES2) repair and maintenance work
  • Post-flight testing and refurbishing
  • Computer-controlled test procedures
  • NBC-/(N)EMP-hardened shelter
  • Payload
  • Thermal imager system 8–12 µm or 3–5 µm
  • Three fixed-focus TV cameras (6 FoV)
  • Stabilisation along three axes
  • Image de-rotation
  • Continuous zoom
  • Data Link
  • Broadband, jam-resistant
  • Range >140 km
  • Full duplex operation
  • KZO (Kleinflugzeug für Zielortung) KZO (Kleinflugzeug für Zielortung) KZO (Kleinflugzeug für Zielortung) KZO (Kleinflugzeug für Zielortung) KZO (Kleinflugzeug für Zielortung) KZO (Kleinflugzeug für Zielortung) KZO (Kleinflugzeug für Zielortung) KZO (Kleinflugzeug für Zielortung) KZO (Kleinflugzeug für Zielortung) KZO (Kleinflugzeug für Zielortung)

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    Page last modified: 30-06-2021 12:04:04 ZULU