Having conducted sea trials from 9-13 December 2013 on board the L’Adroit Gowind-class Offshore Patrol Vessel, the French defence procurement agency (DGA), the French Navy and DCNS have validated the functional integration of an unmanned air vehicle (UAV) with the combat system of a warship as part of the Serval unmanned air systems (UAS) programme.
During the trials, all functional blocks between DCNS’s Polaris combat system and the Camcopter S100 VTOL UAV, developed by Schiebel of Austria, have been validated.
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.
As a result the DGA has issued DCNS with a permit to fly for the Camcopter® S100.
Full integration of UAV data into the combat management system and the operational integration of the UAV operator into the CIC (Combat Information Centre) turn the UAV into a ‘telescopic arm’ of the ship, extending its operational capabilities. A UAV with an optronic payload constitutes an offboard sensor platform that can relay data back to the host ship to identify threats from pirates, for example, or to monitor fishing vessel inspection operations.
Naval Today Staff, January 14, 2014; Image: DCNS