UAV in­te­gra­tion with naval com­bat sys­tems: DCNS opens a new chapter in naval avi­a­tion


Fol­low­ing sea tri­als con­ducted from De­cem­ber 9-13, 2013 as part of the Ser­val un­manned air sys­tems (UAS) pro­gramme, the French de­fence pro­cure­ment agency (DGA) and DCNS have val­i­dated the func­tional in­te­gra­tion of an un­manned air ve­hi­cle (UAV) with the com­bat sys­tem of a war­ship.

Launch­ing and re­cov­er­ing a UAV from a war­ship presents many com­plex chal­lenges. The suc­cess­ful phys­i­cal and func­tional in­te­gra­tion of a tac­ti­cal VTOL (ver­ti­cal take-off and land­ing) UAV on board a sur­face com­bat­ant by DCNS, with no im­pact on flight safety, rep­re­sents a ma­jor breakthrough for naval air forces.

Fol­low­ing sea tri­als on board the L’Adroit Gowind class off­shore pa­trol ves­sel, the DGA, the French Navy and DCNS val­i­dated all func­tional blocks be­tween DCNS’s Polaris com­bat sys­tem and the Cam­copter S100 VTOL UAV de­vel­oped by Schiebel of Aus­tria. Based on the re­sults of the tri­als, the DGA has is­sued DCNS with a per­mit to fly for the Cam­copter S100.

The tests were de­signed to eval­u­ate the per­for­mance of the DIOD-A mo­d­ule, de­vel­oped by DCNS and in­te­grated on this oc­ca­sion with the Polaris com­bat sys­tem, for man­ag­ing UAV pay­load data (from elec­tro-op­ti­cal sen­sors in this case) in real time. A fur­ther aim was to demon­strate that the in­ter­face be­tween the UAS and the ship’s com­bat sys­tem has no im­pact on flight safety.

The DIOD-A mo­d­ule met all DGA re­quire­ments and now prom­ises to de­liver sig­nif­i­cant op­er­a­tional ben­e­fits to French Navy staff in charge of op­er­at­ing the com­bat man­age­ment sys­tem and the VTOL UAV.

The tests were the first of their kind in Europe and the suc­cess­ful out­come is at­trib­ut­able in large part to ef­fec­tive col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween govern­ment tech­ni­cal ser­vices, DCNS and its Aus­trian part­ner Schiebel.

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