Saab’s Skeldar V-200 unmanned air system (UAS) has been undertaking anti-piracy patrols in the troubled waters off the Horn of Africa and southern Arabia. The rotary-wing, heavy fuel engine UAS has been flying from the Spanish navy offshore patrol vessel (OPV) BAM Meteoro, operating in concert with a manned helicopter to support the European Union’s Naval Force Somalia (also known as Operation Atalanta) anti-piracy mission. Saab earlier this year announced a contract to “deploy the Skeldar UAS for maritime operations,” but at the time did not name the customer.
Introduced in 1999, the Saab Giraffe AMB (agile multi-beam) 3D radar has become one of the world’s leading multirole air defense radars. Derived from the earlier G40 and G75 mechanically scanned radars, the AMB has an active electronically scanned antenna that provides a range of around 75 miles and altitude capability of more than 60,000 feet. The antenna rotates once every second to provide full 360-degree coverage, and in its current version provides detection from surface level up to an elevation of 70 degrees.
The Unmanned Systems 2013 event in Washington D.C., last week attracted 600 exhibitors and more than 8,100 attendees, according to organizer the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). Among many briefings were two by U.S.
Late last month, a Saab JAS 39C Gripen fired two examples of the MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile. They were the first production-representative rounds of the weapon to be fired as the Meteor program gears up to deliver operational capability beginning early next year. The missiles were launched at remotely controlled targets at the Vidsel range in northern Sweden. They validated the datalink between the launch aircraft and the missiles, as well as the weapon’s ability to lock on. The trials also verified the command support that has been developed for the pilot.
Saab CEO Håkan Buskhe revealed this week that the company is exploring the idea of an Optional Manned Gripen (OMG). While believing that manned operations will still be needed for at least the next 40 years, Buskhe also recognizes that many “dull and dangerous” missions could be performed better by an unmanned aircraft. Using an OMG for such roles rather than acquiring another type of aircraft would, in essence, halve the logistics costs. OMGs could perhaps operate in a formation under the control of piloted aircraft.
Saab is promoting its 340MSA Maritime Patrol Aircraft solution here at the Paris show (Static D146)–it is available for around the cost of a King Air while offering greater capacity and mission flexibility, according to Saab. Using an airliner as a platform brings with it a level of reliability that is required for intensive use and, while the 340 airframes are second-hand, the Saab factory refurbishes them to an as-new standard.
Maritime security is an increasingly important requirement for most nations with a coastline. The need to protect and secure trade routes has grown in recent years, as has security for offshore oil and gas installations. Fishery patrol, pollution control and search-and-rescue (SAR) remain as important as ever. However, while many nations need to either acquire a maritime surveillance capability or increase an existing one, they may not be able to afford the high price of traditional maritime patrollers.
Air navigation service providers (ANSPs) have extended their ability to track aircraft flying on far northern Atlantic routes by installing automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) stations in Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Iceland.
If you look closely at the exhibits of the major aerospace and defense companies here this week, you will likely notice some unexpected capabilities on display. With their traditional defense businesses threatened by declining budgets, many of these companies are exploring “adjacent markets.”
This trend started with offers in the security and IT realms. But now they are extending to other areas, such as energy, environment and climate; food and water security; and natural disaster protection and response.
So many countries, with so many aerospace companies! Visitors shouldn’t be fooled by the panoply of European companies displaying at the Paris Air Show next week. The harsh truth is that there’s not enough money to sustain them all, especially with respect to defense technology. The European Defence Agency (EDA) commissioned a study of the problem–and reached some alarming conclusions.
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