Thales and DCNS move forward with D2AD
Thales and DCNS have announced the launch of a supplementary phase for the Technology Demonstration of a system for automatic landing and deck-landing of UAVs (D2AD), which has just been notified by the French Defence Procurement Authority (DGA).
According to a Thales press release, sea trials of the demonstrator are now planned for 2012 using a French Navy frigate and a Boeing H-6U Unmanned Little Bird rotorcraft.
The testing constitutes an important step in the future use of UAV rotorcraft by maritime operators, and the development of high-performance solutions to meet the needs of this market.
‘The availability of an automatic on-board take-off and landing system, without the need for an external pilot, opens up the possibility of intensive use of UAV rotorcraft, at minimum cost and a high level of safety,' Thales said in a statement.
Successful landing and deck-landing trials were conducted on a moving platform in the US during 2010. This latest design study will be conducted ‘in the context of risk reduction for future tactical UAV programmes to be managed by the DGA on behalf of the French Navy and the French Army’, according to Thales.
The company said the next trials will be aimed at demonstrating the automatic deck-landing of a UAV on the deck of a frigate even in high sea state and low visibility, and that ‘the system must demonstrate its capability for integration of all the operational constraints inherent in deck take-offs and landings, similar to those of piloted helicopters, but in fully automatic mode’.
The statement issued by Thales said: ‘This automatic system for take-off, landing and deck-landing of UAVs is the fruit of the joint expertise of Thales and DCNS. Thales is responsible for the positioning system and its interface with the UAV system, the supply of a UAV demonstrator system and slaving of the flight path along a trajectory. DCNS is responsible for predicting the vessel motions, the harpoon system as well as the interface and integration with the vessel.’
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