Saab In­dia Tech­nolo­gies of­fers In­dia state-of-the-art ISR and un­manned ae­rial ve­hi­cle sys­tems

SP's MAI - - UNMANNED - [ By Air Mar­shal (Retd) V.K. Bha­tia]

On Oc­to­ber 31, Saab In­dia Tech­nolo­gies gave a pre­sen­ta­tion on its lat­est state-of-the-art in­tel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance, re­con­nai­sance (ISR) and un­manned ae­rial ve­hi­cle (UAV) sys­tems dur­ing a work­shop in New Delhi. The work­shop was or­gan­ised as a part of the Swe­den In­dia No­bel Me­mo­rial Week 2012. Es­pe­cially on of­fer was its lat­est Skel­dar ro­tary-wing UAV which ac­cord­ing to Joanna Sjolan­der, Mar­ket­ing Di­rec­tor, Saab In­dia Tech­nolo­gies Pvt Ltd, could ad­e­quately meet In­dia’s cur­rent and pro­jected se­cu­rity re­quire­ments.

Skel­dar has been devel­oped as a fully au­tonomous and mo­bile short-to-medium range ver­ti­cal take-off and land­ing (VTOL) un­manned ae­rial sys­tem (UAS). It is suit­able for a wide range of sen­sor ap­pli­ca­tions to per­form mis­sions such as re­con­nais­sance, sur­veil­lance and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion. The Skel­dar can re­port­edly hover for hours while pro­vid­ing real-time in­for­ma­tion to a con­trol sta­tion or to a re­mote video ter­mi­nal. It is con­trolled by high-level-com­mands such as “point-and-fly” and “point-and-look”, and de­signed for a range of land, mar­itime and civil ap­pli­ca­tions.

The Skel­dar sys­tem con­sists of two air ve­hi­cles and a mo­bile SOS con­trol sta­tion. Based on op­er­a­tional and tech­ni­cal re­quire­ments, the sys­tem may be in­te­grated into a wide va­ri­ety of seg­ments and sys­tem en­vi­ron­ments util­is­ing a com­mon con­trol con­cept and user in­ter­face in the con­text of com­mand, con­trol and pay­load man­age­ment. The Skel­dar UAS is a highly ca­pa­ble sys­tem and the sys­tem can be op­er­ated by just two to four peo­ple, ow­ing to the ease of use, no take-off and land­ing equip­ment, and the low lo­gis­ti­cal foot­print.

The Skel­dar can per­form a wide range of func­tions, in­clud­ing sur­veil­lance, re­con­nais­sance, tar­get ac­qui­si­tion, dis­sem­i­na­tion of tar­get data, con­trol of in­di­rect fire and im­me­di­ate as­sess­ment of bat­tle dam­age. By be­ing the pri­mary sys­tem for th­ese func­tions, day and night and in di­verse weather con­di­tions, the Skel­dar UAS be­comes the com­man­der’s ‘dom­i­nant eye’.

Skel­dar UAS can be­come a key col­lec­tion as­set in sup­port­ing near real-time vi­su­al­i­sa­tion of the bat­tlespace. The ag­ile flight en­ve­lope of Skel­dar air ve­hi­cles pro­vides key char­ac­ter­is­tics (see Ta­ble) for suc­cess­ful op­er­a­tions and mis­sions, es­pe­cially in ur­ban ar­eas and dif­fi­cult ter­rain. Launch and re­cov­ery from eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble and small ar­eas, keep­ing pace on the bat­tle­field, as well as find, hold and main­tain op­ti­mal as­pect to area and point of in­ter­est, are all eas­ily per­formed with ease due to its ro­tary wing de­sign.

In the Skel­dar sys­tem in­stead of us­ing a con­ven­tional ‘joy­stick’, the en­tire flight en­ve­lope is con­trolled by a set of ‘but­tons/switches’.

The op­er­a­tor ini­ti­ates take-off by press­ing a but­ton, points at an ap­pro­pri­ate ingress point, set­ting the Skel­dar air ve­hi­cle’s speed and al­ti­tude. This con­trol tech­nique is known as point-and-fly. If the straight­est way to the ingress point is not pos­si­ble, the op­er­a­tor can still eas­ily set a route by point­ing on the map to de­fine a num­ber of way­points. Dur­ing the mis­sion the air­craft files au­tonomously and al­lows the op­er­a­tor to quickly in­ves­ti­gate a large num­ber of points or in­ter­est sim­ply by point­ing on the map. This con­trol tech­nique is known as ‘point-and-see’.

The sys­tem can be ef­fec­tively used for land, naval and civil ap­pli­ca­tions. How­ever, it was pointed out that the prob­lem of take-off and land­ing from rolling (and pitch­ing) marine decks, es­pe­cially of smaller ves­sels, was still in the process of be­ing sorted out through in­no­va­tive ideas. A sug­ges­tion by the SP’s M.A.I. rep­re­sen­ta­tive to try out gyro-sta­b­lised plat­forms which could be sup­plied as add-ons to the main sys­tem and could be hooked on to a ves­sel’s deck, when re­quired, was well taken.

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