Drones Proliferate at Eurosatory Show

 - June 14, 2018, 10:16 AM
The entrance hall at the Eurosatory show. (Photo: ServiceMedia.TV)

The Eurosatory defense show in Paris is mainly focused on equipment for land forces, but this includes air defense systems, and inevitably these days, a variety of small drones and counter-drone systems. There were plenty of these on display at this week’s event, notably including VTOL attack drones. Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin brought news of some air-carried weaponry, French company Daher unveiled an ISR version of its TBM910/930 light aircraft, Hensoldt unveiled a new air defense radar, and various SIGINT systems were on show.

MBDA said that it had developed the first air defense command and control system to integrate anti-drone and traditional air defense capabilities. Named Licorne, it is lightweight and mobile and employs drone datalink detectors and jammers. It provides what MBDA described as “a first level of coordination” with short-range air defense missiles such as the company’s own Mistral. Coincidentally, MBDA announced a further contract for Mistrals worth €50 million from Estonia, which first bought the missile in 2009.

Delft Dynamics showed the Dronecatcher system in which a small quadrotor UAV deploys a net to capture the offending drone. A camera and laser rangefinder on the Dronecatcher and a track-and-trace system controlled from the ground enable a precise interception, the Dutch company said. A number of other counter-drone systems were being promoted.

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control (LMFC) said that Qatar has selected its Sniper advanced targeting pod to equip its 36 Dassault Rafale fighters. The other option would have been the Thales Damocles pod found on French and other export Rafales. LMFC was also promoting its Paragon precision guidance kit for air-dropped bombs ranging in size from 500 to 2,000 pounds. This is an upgraded version of the Paveway kit that was previously known as the Dual-Mode Plus weapon.

Daher said that it had already tested a high-definition video camera weighing 50 kg on a TBM 700 prototype. But the company’s focus is on promoting the single-turboprop TBM 910 and 930 as ISR platforms, that could also carry a SAR/MTI radar and a SIGINT system. The cabin has room for one sensor operator console that can be rapidly fitted or removed. Endurance would be more than six hours.

Hensoldt showed a new air defense radar designated TRML-4D that uses the latest AESA technology to acquire targets after only one rotation of the antenna. It can detect and track approximately 1,500 targets in a radius of up to 250 km and at an altitude of up to 30 km, Hensoldt said. The system can be transported by air in an A400M or C130 transport aircraft. Hensoldt said that one customer, which it did not identify, has already placed an order for 10 systems.

Finnish company Patria launched an ELINT system designated MUSCL (Multi-Static Coherent Location). It can detect small and low-flying targets, and can “pick up stealth targets even better than active radar systems,” the company claimed. Its range extends to several hundreds of kilometers with 360­ degree directional coverage, and it can track more than 100 objects simultaneously. Patria also announced a new version of the ARIS ESM system that it has offered since 2010.