IMDEX 2023: Aeronautics sees growing interest in maritime UAV integration
Aeronautics' Orbiter 3 has already gained operational experience in the marine environment, having taken off and landed from a moving vessel.
Touting the benefits of systems like the Orbiter 3 in the naval domain, an Aeronautics spokesperson told Shephard: ‘Integral deployment capabilities from moving ships allows operators to receive all intelligence information directly from the ship.
‘Also, the flight range of the Orbiter 3 increases the intelligence-gathering and defence range of the ship by more than 80km.
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‘This also gives the ship higher self-protection capabilities, using UAVs to observe large areas and prevent the ship from being exposed to risk.’
The Orbiter 3 is a small fixed-wing UAV manufactured by Aeronautics. Designed to carry out land and maritime ISTAR missions, the UAV can host a range of ISR payloads.
The UAV has several users, including Azerbaijan, Croatia, Thailand and, most recently, Greece.
As the system is battery-powered, it has a minimal logistics footprint on the ship, as a separate supply of suitable fuel is not required to power it.
The Orbiter 3 has a payload capacity of 6kg and cruises at a speed of 50kts.
Aeronautics added that in maritime search and rescue options, the ability to self-launch a system like the Orbiter 3 had benefits.
‘The ability to launch a UAV from a ship and have it locate the object and quickly direct manned rescue forces to its exact location is a key factor that can save human lives,’ the spokesperson explained.
For maritime deployments, the Aeronautics approach is to keep a ship deck free as much as possible, employing a launch and recovery system that does require a permanent space on a vessel.
The spokesperson said: ‘The launcher is deployed only during the launching, and the cushion only during the recovery, but within a minute or two it is possible to disassemble it and leave the deck completely free.’
In a maritime-facing role, the Royal Thai Navy uses the Orbiter 3 to detect illegal fishing activities in its waters.
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