The Dutch ministry of defense has issued a notice calling for information regarding the potential acquisition of a vertical takeoff and landing unmanned aerial vehicle for use on naval vessels. A prior information notice is calling for consultation from industry on the offerings that fit this category, so that the MoD can determine if its requirements can be fulfilled. Interested parties have until November 15 to respond.
“A market consultation is held for this need to determine whether the market can meet certain requirements, what added value can be offered in the delivery and which market parties are interested in the assignment or part of the assignment,” the notice says.
There are two key players offering small unmanned helicopters that generally pitch for vessel-based UAV requirements, namely UMS Skeldar and Schiebel with their V-200 and Camcopter systems, respectively. While UMS Skeldar could not provide detail on the MoD’s information notice, it confirmed to AIN that it has been in discussions with the MoD for some time regarding the potential requirements that the navy may have. UMS Skeldar has been selected by the German MoD to provide its V-200B UAV for the navy’s K130 corvettes, and the company noted that the requirements of NATO navies for this type of operation tend to be common, suggesting that the success with Germany may place the company well for any similar requirements.
Additionally, the decision by Belgium to acquire the F-35 for its F-16 fighter replacement announced through a multibillion-euro pledge from the government may have stolen the headlines in October, but the European nation also made a number of other commitments via the funding announcement, including the acquisition of two medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAVs from the U.S.
This is likely to be the developmental MQ-9B SkyGuardian UAV from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, or its predecessor, the MQ-9 Reaper, the first of which is being acquired by the Royal Air Force under its Protector initiative.
"MALE drones play an increasingly important role in operations, but at the European level, there is a shortage of this type of drones,” said Belgian defense minister, Steven Vandeput. “With this purchase, defense is committed to the future while filling a capacity deficit at the European level."
He added that maintaining such a capability would be a major undertaking, so Brussels is seeking cooperation with a partner country from the EU/NATO to jointly acquire and support the systems. Neighboring nation France operates the Reaper and is the only nation outside of the U.S. and UK that has been authorized by the U.S. government to arm the UAV.
Elsewhere in Europe, Spain has awarded Sistemas de Control Remoto a €495,000 ($565,000) contract for its Scrab II aerial target. The MoD claims that it is the only target capable of meeting all of the requirements and technical specifications to enable it to plan and train for advanced tactics and maneuvers, and reach the altitude and range required to replicate operational missions. Scrab II has a range of 62 miles (100 km) with its datalink, according to the company, and an endurance of 60 minutes.
The target has already been tested in flight by Spain with a number of weapon systems, the contract notice claims, which concluded that it was the only option that fulfilled requirements for flight envelope and payload specifications, namely infrared and radar cross-section signature enhancers.