Another significant step for seabased unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) took place this weekend on the Mediterranean when a helicopter UAV was automatically landed on a French Navy frigate, the Montcalm.
The demonstration on 9 and 10 October was made by French military shipyard DCNS which worked on an automatic deck landing and take-off system, the SADA (Système d'Appontage et de Décollage Automatique) in close collaboration with Austrian company Schiebel which developed the CAMCOPTER S-100 with which the demonstration was undertaken.
DCNS said in a statement that “until now, the taking-off but above all the landing of UAVs was constrained, limiting their safe and operational deployment from ships. Operational solutions to date are conditioned by daylight and calm seas whereas the objective is to be deployable 24 hours a day, even in bad weather conditions.”
The solution developed by DCNS and Schiebel enables safe recuperation of a helicopter-type UAV in less than 2 minutes up to sea state 5. It is based on positioning by an infra-red sensor which guides and lands the drone with a precision of 30 cm for fail-safe harpooning onto the landing grid. Landing by GPS alone does not have this precision, DCNS says.
SADA is adaptable “in a non-intrusive manner” to all ships and all types of helicopter UAVs.
Other VTOL UAVs like the Northrop Grumman Fire Scout have demonstrated at-sea landings and take-offs.
photo credits: DCNS