The challenges facing Australian offshore patrol vessels have never been greater. A rapidly evolving geopolitical situation means crews can potentially be called on to manage situations as diverse as unauthorised arrivals, piracy and the enforcement of maritime law. In such circumstances, an effective intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability is essential for both operational success and for the safety of the crew.
With the Australian Department of Defence now in the process of procuring a new generation of offshore patrol vessel (OPV), it is also seeking an embedded off-board ISR asset in the form of a fleet of maritime tactical unmanned aircraft (MTUA). The successful solution must enhance the ability of the new OPVs in undertaking constabulary missions and carrying out maritime patrol-and-response tasks.
Proven track record in Europe and Asia
The Skeldar V-200 MTUA manufactured by UMS Skeldar, and proposed for the role by Saab Australia, has a proven track record of reliably delivering ISR capabilities to civil and defence customers around the world. Leveraging Saab’s 80 years of experience in the aviation sector, it has been successfully used by the Spanish Navy and the European Maritime Safety Agency, among many others.
The Skeldar V-200’s attributes also make it uniquely suited to meeting the needs of the next generation of Australian offshore patrol vessels. Saab Australian Business Development Manager James Lawless explains, “No other solution offers the same range of benefits to the RAN as the Skeldar V-200. From its ability to undertake fully autonomous take-offs and landings to its payload flexibility and its use of ViDAR, it’s the full package. And Saab’s combat system integration experience means it can be seamlessly integrated into the OPVs.”
Skeldar is the only vehicle of its type able to operate on the same heavy fuel used by patrol vessels – a major logistical and safety advantage.
Payload flexibility is another major benefit of the system. Capable of carrying loads up to 40 kilograms, Skeldar’s modular design means that multiple payloads can be carried concurrently. Modular design also assists in maximising availability. Maintenance can be undertaken while embarked and there is a high reliability of achieving 1500 flight hours before a major overhaul is required.
The high degree of autonomy built into the Skeldar means only a minimum of personnel are required to operate the system, freeing up crews for other duties. The system also allows for the seamlessly integration of sensor payloads.
“The Skeldar V-200’s baseline payloads would include a 150-kilometre datalink and integration of the Australian-developed visual radar system, Sentient ViDAR. Skeldar is uniquely positioned as the only vertical take-off and landing MTUA with ViDAR,” says James Lawless. “That’s a real advantage.”
Mandy Barlow, communications manager at Pacific 2017
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Saab serves the global market with world-leading products, services and solutions within military defence and civil security. Saab has operations and employees on all continents around the world. Through innovative, collaborative and pragmatic thinking, Saab develops, adopts and improves new technology to meet customers’ changing needs.
Saab Australia develops advanced defence, security and civil aviation systems for domestic and international markets. Saab Australia is Australia's leading capability integrator now celebrating thirty years’ experience across a wide range of defence and civil projects.