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IMDEX 2023: Aeronautics sees growing interest in maritime UAV integration

5th May 2023 - 00:00 GMT | by Harry Lye in Changi


An Orbiter 3 is launched from a ship using a catapult. (Photo: Aeronautics)

Israeli UAV maker Aeronautics, known for its Orbiter family of systems, has told Shephard that the company sees great potential in the maritime space and navies’ growing interest in integrating drones into the domain globally.

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.

Harry Lye


Harry Lye

Harry Lye was Senior Naval Reporter at Shephard Media.

Harry joined the company in 2021, …

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