Black Kite

Background / Applications

Black Kite is a waterproof heavy-lift quadcopter designed for surveillance and reconnaissance around naval ports, as part of the Waterside Rapid-Deployment Security System (WRDSS). WRDSS is a co-operative effort between the United States, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand ( It has also been used as part of a similar land-based security system known as iWatchdog (DST Group, AOS Group). It allows the operator to have an “eye in the sky” and provide ground personnel more information about a situation. The 3-axis gimbal provides the operator with the option of several payloads; often selected are EO/IR camera pairs. Other payloads include a speaker and torch, which allows for communicating with people in the area of interest.

Manufacturing Process

Three UAS were designed, fabricated, and tested by RUASRT. The waterproofing requirement led to the design and manufacture of a unique composite airframe, which was done in the Composites Lab at RMIT. The arms are replaceable, with custom-made plugs allowing power and signal to reach the motors and ESCs whilst maintaining a watertight seal. The avionics are mostly off-the-shelf, with some circuit board design done by the RMIT UAS Research Team.


Size/Wingspan 800 mm x 800 mm x 400 mm
Maximum Takeoff Mass 10 kg
Payload Capacity 2 kg
Range 2 km
Endurance 20 min @ 10 kg TOW
Flight Controller Pixhawk / APM

This project was done in collaboration with DST Group (Maritime Division)