The peninsular Arab country of Qatar is in a strategically-important position in the Persian Gulf and remains an ally of the United States' so-called "War on Terror". It faces internal battles of its own, as well as outside threats, and its economy is over 75% reliant on maritime traffic to the point that the country has been recently taking the initiative in modernizing its military capabilities to counter rising threats. Part of this movement is a joint German-Qatari venture to produce a lightweight, budget-friendly, long endurance surveillance platform being offered in the Reiner Stemme Utility Air Systems "Q01" based on its Stemme glider product.
The Q01 will become a focal point of the recently-established (2014) Reconnaissance and Surveillance Center (RSC) of the Qatari military. A manned / unmanned capability will be built into the Q01 design.
The glider origins of the Q01 are clear as the aircraft sports a straight, high-mounted mainplane arrangement set over the fuselage containing the cockpit, engine, fuel stores, avionics and mission payload. The engine is fitted to the front of the aircraft in the usual way, driving a three-bladed propeller unit. Aft of this is the two-seat, side-by-side cockpit and the fuselage contours nicely to form the single-rudder tail unit at rear, this assembly sporting high-mounted horizontal tailplanes. A wheeled, retractable tricycle undercarriage is featured for ground running. The operating crew, when manned, will be two personnel with onboard sleeping and lavatory quarters (serving long loitering missions).
The relatively compact dimensions of the Q01 (with wings removed) ensure it will fit in the hold of a Qatar Air Force C-17 transport. The RSC is expecting to procure an initial stock of seventeen Q01 aircraft for service beginning mid-2017.
The Q01 venture is funded by the government of Qatar and designed and developed by engineers at Reiner Stemme of Germany. Overall construction involves composites for a lightweight make-up while retaining the needed strength and durability for a military-minded aerial platform. Operational altitudes are expected to reach 30,000 feet with a 1,322lb payload possible for up to 12 hours of flying endurance brought from the design. Endurance will be drastically increased when flying without human pilots - increasing to 50 hours of flight time. The mission payload will consist of a Thales "Searchwater" system, an L-3 Wescam MX-20 and MX-25 electro-optical camera system and an unnamed Textron system.
Propulsion power is provided by a Technify Motors CD-300 series diesel-fueled, twin-turbocharged engine outputting 300 horsepower.
A technology demonstrator version of the Q01 recorded its first flight in November of 2015 and a second flyable prototype, closely mimicking the final production form with support for the intended mission equipment, will become available for testing during 2016.