Navy's Spy in the Sky

Com­pared to the fixed wing uAVs, it is much sim­pler for ro­tary sys­tems to op­er­ate from the ships deck. this has led to the de­vel­op­ment of naval ro­tary uAVs (NruAVs) who can per­form all the mar­itime uAV mis­sions with the ad­di­tion of search and res­cue but w


Naval ro­tary UAVs (NRUAVs) can per­form all the mar­itime UAV mis­sions with the ad­di­tion of search and res­cue but with­out the prob­lems of land­ing and take off by fixed wing UAVs.

Lt Gen­eral Naresh Chand (Retd)

the De­VeL­op­MeNt of uAVs is lit­er­ally un­der­go­ing a revo­lu­tion to carry out all types of mil­i­tary and civil­ian re­quire­ments span­ning a range of roles from In­tel­li­gence, re­con­nais­sance and sur­veil­lance (Isr) to lo­gis­tic sup­port and armed sys­tems. Ma­jor de­vel­op­ments have taken place in fixed wing uAVs which op­er­ate from land. some of these have un­der­gone spe­cific mod­i­fi­ca­tions to op­er­ate from ships. the mod­i­fi­ca­tions in­volve special ar­range­ment for take- off and land­ing; ma­te­rial to pro­tect the sys­tem from hu­mid mar­itime conditions and sen­sors spe­cially suited for op­er­at­ing ef­fec­tively in the sea en­vi­ron­ment. Com­pared to the fixed wing uAVs, it is much sim­pler for ro­tary sys­tems to op­er­ate from the ships deck. this has led to the de­vel­op­ment of naval ro­tary uAVs (NruAVs) who can per­form all the mar­itime uAV mis­sions with the ad­di­tion of search and res­cue but with­out the prob­lems of land­ing and take off by fixed wing uAVs. they can eas­ily op­er­ate from land thus di­ver­si­fy­ing their role. NruAV can pro­vide ‘over the hori­zon’ sur­veil­lance which ex­tends the reach of the ‘eyes’ of the mother ship by day and night. It is more prag­matic to de­velop a NruAV from a ex­ist­ing proven heli­copter plat­form than to de­velop a new plat­form. It will cost less, will be more re­li­able as it is al­ready in ser­vice, short time for con­ver­sion into a ro­tary uAV and there will no re­quire­ment for strin­gent check­ing by the lo­cal avi­a­tion author­i­ties.

Role of NRUAV. pos­si­ble roles of

NruAV are:

●● ISR in­clud­ing iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

●●tar­get­ing in­for­ma­tion, tar­get des­ig­na­tion and real time bat­tle dam­age assessment.

●●sup­port lit­toral war­fare and pro­vide coastal sur­veil­lance.

●● pro­tects the coun­try’s in­ter­est in the ex­clu­sive eco­nomic Zone (eeZ).

●● Ide­ally suit­able for sup­port­ing search and res­cue (s&r) oper­a­tions.

●●hu­man As­sis­tance and Dis­as­ter re­lief (hADr).

●●the sur­face/ground con­trol sta­tions can be net­worked to syn­er­gise all the NRUAV and other re­sources of the fleet to pro­duce a com­mon op­er­a­tional pic­ture (Cop).

●● Can pro­vide real-time per­sis­tence sur­veil­lance and in­te­grated with manned mar­itime pa­trol air­craft.

●●pro­vide in­for­ma­tion on Mine coun­ter­mea­sures, hy­drog­ra­phy and me­te­o­rol­ogy. some de­vel­op­ments in NruAV glob­ally are given in suc­ceed­ing para­graphs.


S-100 CAMCOPTER Vari­ant. s-100 CAMCopter vari­ant has been pro­duced in part­ner­ship with schiebel In­dus­tries and is ide­ally suited for ex­pe­di­tionary strike group of the us Navy. It has a short re­ac­tion time of 15 min­utes for de­ploy­ment , needs less space and is highly flex­i­ble as it can op­er­ate from ship and ashore. It can carry out Isr and re­sup­ply mis­sions. It has au­tono- mous nav­i­ga­tion via pre-pro­grammed Gps way­points or can be op­er­ated di­rectly with a pilot con­trol unit; can op­er­ate both by day and night with op­er­at­ing from the ship up to sea state 5 and can si­mul­ta­ne­ously carry a wide va­ri­ety of pay­loads, in­clud­ing a sta­bi­lized elec­tro-op­ti­cal/in­frared sen­sor for day and night Isr col­lec­tion and dis­sem­i­na­tion.

Northrop Grum­man

Fire Scout. fire scout is a com­bat proven, au­tonomous heli­copter sys­tem that pro­vides real-time Isr and tar­get-ac­qui­si­tion (Isr&t), laser des­ig­na­tion, to bat­tle man­age­ment users with­out re­ly­ing on manned air­craft or space-based as­sets. fire scout has the abil­ity op­er­ate from any air-ca­pa­ble ship or land base in sup­port per­sis­tent Isr&t re­quire­ments. the cur­rent ver­sions are:

MQ-8B Fire Scout. It pro­vides very good si­t­u­a­tional aware­ness and pre­ci­sion tar­get­ing sup­port for the us Navy. the MQ-8B fire scout has the abil­ity to au­tonomously take off and land from any suit­ably-equipped air-ca­pa­ble war­ship and at un­pre­pared land­ing zones. No pilot is re­quired for launch and re­cov­ery.

the MQ-8B ad­vanced con­trol sta­tions in­cor­po­rate the us Navy’s tac­ti­cal Con­trol sys­tem (tCs), tac­ti­cal Com­mon Data Link (tCDL), and ro­bust com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Its mod­u­lar con­struc­tion for pay­loads al­lows con­tin­u­ous up-gra­da­tion. It has a speed of 85 knots, range/en­durance is 596 nmi/7.75 hrs, base­line pay­load is 300 lbs, typ­i­cal pay­load is 50 lbs, its sen­sor pay­loads are eo/Ir/Lrf/Mine De­tec­tor/Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Re­lay/Mar­itime Radar/Au­to­matic Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tem (AIs). MQ-8B fire scout has also been de­ployed in Afghanistan to sup­port counter- im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vice (IeD) oper­a­tions. this sys­tem has com­pleted more than 16,600 flight hours over 6,200 sor­ties. the us Navy has in­te­grated a multi-mode mar­itime radar on MQ-8B and tested an on­board its weapons ca­pa­bil­ity with the Ad­vanced pre­ci­sion Kill Weapon sys­tem (ApKWs). the MQ-8B fire scout has also demon­strated the abil­ity to op­er­ate con­cur­rently with other manned air­craft while op­er­at­ing at-sea.

The MQ-8C Fire Scout. this is us Navy’s next gen­er­a­tion au­tonomous heli- copter which com­bines the best of two proven air sys­tems. It in­cor­po­rates the ac­qui­si­tion ar­chi­tec­ture of the us Navy’s MQ-8B fire scout, and the ex­tended range, pay­load and cargo haul­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the Bell 407 heli­copter. the MQ-8C fire scout is a fully au­tonomous, four-blade, sin­gle-en­gine un­manned heli­copter. It has a speed of 135 knots (max­i­mum), en­durance of 1,227 nmi/12 hrs , pay­load (in­ter­nal) 500 lbs, typ­i­cal pay­load and Max­i­mum sling Load of 2,650 lbs (Bell 407 fea­ture). It car­ries eo/Ir/Lrf/Com­mu­ni­ca­tion re­lay/ AIs/Mar­itime radar (fu­ture) and Co­BrA Mine De­tec­tor (fu­ture). Con­fig­u­ra­tion for car­ry­ing mul­ti­ple pay­loads is avail­able. The FAA-cer­ti­fied Bell 407 heli­copter is a proven plat­form widely used with more than 1,100 Bell 407 he­li­copters in ser­vice with 4 mil­lion ac­cu­mu­lated flight hours.

Naval Group and Air­bus He­li­copters con­sor­tium for joint de­sign of French NRUAV

the french de­fense pro­cure­ment agency DGA, has awarded the Naval Group and Air­bus he­li­copters con­sor­tium a con­tract to de­velop a NruAV demon­stra­tor for the french Navy. the pur­pose of the con­tract is to iden­tify, de­ploy and test the tech­nolo­gies nec­es­sary for the in­te­gra­tion of a tac­ti­cal drone-sys­tem on a war­ship. It forms part of the prepa­ra­tion of the sDAM (Navy Air­borne Drone sys­tem), whose en­try into ser­vice is fore­seen by the mid­dle of the next decade. other french de­fense tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies in­clud­ing héli­cop­tères Guim­bal, safran, thales and oNerA, will be prin­ci­pal sub­con­trac­tors on the project. this 700-kg Vsr 700 drone is de­rived from a light civil­ian heli­copter, the Cabri G2, test­ing of which has al­ready started. The VSR700 can ex­ceed 10 flight hours of en­durance and has a pay­load ca­pac­ity of up to 150 kg. Air­bus he­li­copters will be re­spon­si­ble for de­sign­ing and de­vel­op­ing the Vsr700 drone as well as the var­i­ous tech­nolo­gies needed for drones to per­form aerial mis­sions, such as data li­ai­son, pay­load and a “see and avoid” ca­pa­bil­ity en­abling the drone’s in­te­gra­tion into airspace. the Air­bus he­li­copters Vsr700 naval uAV, pow­ered by a 155-hp Con­ti­nen- tal CD-155, will fly as a pro­to­type in 2018 be­fore a 2021 in­tro­duc­tion.

Saab and UMS Aero Group AG (called UMS SKELDAR)

SKELDAR V-200. the mar­itime ver­sion of sKeLDAr V-200 NruAV is ready for in­duc­tion into ser­vice. the com­pany claims that it is un­matched in its class. the fact that it is not just an open in­ter­face to Bat­tle­field Man­age­ment Sys­tem (BMS) and C4ISR sys­tems, but also 4586 stANAG com­pli­ant, makes it eas­ier to im­ple­ment on any mar­itime ves­sel. the NruAV is multi-role and ideal for a wide range of ap­pli­ca­tions such as Re­con­nais­sance, Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, tar­get Ac­qui­si­tion and elec­tronic War­fare (eW). the skeldar V-200 can carry a va­ri­ety of radar and elec­tro-op­ti­cal pay­loads, such as the Vis­ual De­tec­tion And rang­ing (ViDAr) sys­tem from sen­tient Vi­sion, which claims that it cov­ers more than 80 times the area of con­ven­tional eo/Ir sys­tems. It has a max­i­mum take-off weight of 235 kg in­clud­ing 40 kg of pay­load, is pow­ered by a heavy-fuel two-stroke en­gine from hirth, which can run on Jet A1, Jp5 and Jp8. It has a top speed of 150 kph and a ser­vice ceil­ing of 3,000 m. uMs skeldar has an­nounced that it has de­liv­ered the V-200 to In­done­sia, which has the world’s sec­ond long­est coast­line.


Solo. sW-4 solo weighs 1,800 kg, is op­tion­ally-pi­loted and is based on the manned EASA-cer­ti­fied, Pol­ish-de­signed SW-4 Sokol. the un­manned ver­sion is ca­pa­ble of Isr and cargo re-sup­ply tasks. With a pay­load of 470 kg, it has a range of 940 km and an en­durance of six hours.

AWHERO. this is smaller which was ac­quired along with de­vel­oper sis­temi Di­nam­ici in De­cem­ber 2016. AWhero is de­signed as a tac­ti­cal uAV for both land­based and mar­itime use. In the mar­itime role it is de­signed to op­er­ate in se­vere weather and sea conditions for car­ry­ing tasks in­clud­ing pro­tec­tion and sup­port, trans­port of sup­plies, en­gage in anti-sub­ma­rine war­fare and anti-piracy oper­a­tions. It is claimed that it has an en­durance of six hours with a 35 kg pay­load.

In­dian Per­spec­tive

hin­dus­tan Aero­nau­tics Lim­ited(hAL) and Malat(a unit of Is­rael Aero­space In­dus­tries) had started co de­vel­op­ment of NruAV. the IAI-hALNruAV project con­sisted of a Malat­made Heli­copter Mod­i­fi­ca­tion Suite (HeMoS) fit­ted on HAL’s Chetan, an up­graded Chetak with tur­bomeca tM 333 2M2 en­gines. the heli­copter is planned to be used for un­manned oper­a­tions and ad­vanced in­tel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and re­con­nais­sance (Isr) mis­sions from war­ship decks. the sys­tem got de­layed due to many prob­lems like the lack of a cor­rect land­ing and take-off sys­tem for mov­ing plat­forms as the NruAV was to fea­ture with au­to­matic ver­ti­cal take-off and Land­ing (AV­toL) from avi­a­tion-ca­pa­ble ships and from un­pre­pared land­ing sites. It was re­ported in fe­bru­ary 2017 that hAL has can­celled it con­tract with Is­rael and taken In­dia’s Aero­nau­ti­cal De­vel­op­ment es­tab­lish­ment (ADe) on board to carry on with the project. other de­tails are not known.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: Northrop Grum­man

MQ-8B Fire Scout

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