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In April 2018 Airbus Helicopters and the Austrian UAV manufacturer Schiebel have the Manned - successfully tested aboard a H145 Unmanned Teaming technology. The S-100 UAV was controlled by an operator in the helicopter. To simulate the return of the helicopter refueling control was temporarily transferred to a ground station. The ES & T spoke to Mark R. Henning, senior program manager H145 Governmental business at Airbus Helicopters, on the state of the Manned - Unmanned teaming in the field of helicopter flying.

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"Unmanned systems are to be used mainly for the so-called D ³ tasks: everything '' is so tasks that are tedious, dirty or dangerous." Dull, dirty and dangerous (Photo: Airbus Helicopters)

ES & T: What exactly has been under Manned - imagine Unmanned teaming (MUM-T)?

Henning: The term describes the use of unmanned systems - flying normally unmanned systems / vehicle (UAV) - to support the use of a manned flying system. And often in the term "robotic wingman" is used.

ES & T: What is the division of responsibilities between unmanned and manned aircraft?

Henning: The division of tasks varies from mission to mission. Also, the level of technology available - to autonomously operate the ability of the UAV in the specific case - very important. The introduction of the technology should be gradual. The support of the occupation by assistance systems (keyword: AI) on the manned helicopter as well as on the UAV has influence on which tasks are where and in what quality performed. In principle, be used for providing information and data transmission of the stepwise reaction, the UAV in the first step.

ES & T: Is MUM-T is MUM-T, or are there shades?

Henning: The international standard (eg STANAG 4586) defines five stages and thus the "Level of Interoperability" (LoI) called: The Level 1 to 5 are described as follows:

  • Level 1: Indirect reception / transmission of UAV-specific data and metadata.
  • Level 2: Direct reception / transmission of UAV-specific data and metadata.
  • Level 3: control and monitor the UAV payload, not the UAV.
  • Level 4: control and monitoring of the UAV without takeoff and landing.
  • Level 5: control and monitoring of UAVs, including takeoff and landing.

ES & T: What advantages forces can hope for by MUM-T in the field of aviation?

Henning: Unmanned systems are to be used mainly for the so-called D ³ tasks: everything is "dull, dirty and dangerous", ie tasks that are tedious, dirty or dangerous. must be seen as mission effectiveness multiplier to connect a manned helicopter with one or more unmanned vehicles.

ES & T:: Since when Airbus Helicopters dealt with this issue?

Henning: For more than ten years - in several consecutive projects.

ES & T: What results the company can boast since then?

Henning: Airbus Helicopters was here in Europe the first company that has successfully implemented a LoI 5 Demonstration that already happened in April 2018. Less demanding applications are already up LoI 2 available in the standard configuration on police H145 and without much attention in use.

In April 2018 H145 Airbus Helicopters and an S-100 Camcopter Schiebel demonstrated a successful MUM-T LoI 5 flight. (Video: Schiebel)

ES & T: What are technological, technical, regulatory challenges?

Henning: As already described, the quality of the assistance systems (KI) is for demanding applications up LoI 5, the current technological challenge. Further challenges in the field of data links and what (Mission Computer for. B.) relates to the size and weight of the computer. This applies to both the manned and unmanned on the system.

Regulatory needs to happen for the use of UAS / UAV in civil airspace organization a lot. For pure military operations the conditions are sufficiently established. The goal, however, is to use MUM-T and civilian, for example in mountain rescue, search and rescue operations, civil protection, energy and transport monitoring.

ES & T: It is expedient to carry out also structural modifications to the helicopter when the MUM-T operation is to be carried out from the helicopter out?

Henning: The necessary structural changes for MUM-T depend on the selected LoI. but there are always provide at least data links and dedicated computers. LoI 2 can be fulfilled in the H145 already with the standard configuration police today.

ES & T: Who then expediently assumes the task of controlling the UAV, the co-pilot or a third person?

Henning: Within this wide-ranging spectrum of tasks it depends on mission and selected LoI. As part of police operations of the mission system operator, which already always fly along in the helicopter can do the job well. For military missions must be the ultimate goal, not to reduce the payload of the helicopter with a third person and to enable MUM-T eg in a tandem cockpit. Therefore, the co-pilot should be able to take on these tasks in the future. This, in turn intelligent integration with well-balanced assistance systems.

ES & T: The understanding of the MUM-T requires a permanent and hardened against interference data exchange between helicopters and UAV. Rise, consequently, also the electromagnetic emissions profile and thus the detectability of the helicopter?

Henning: In principle this is a fact that must be considered. Here is a good design solution (see point. Technical challenge above)

ES & T: Is MUM-T then ever adapted in a LV / BV scenario to be used?

Henning: Absolutely! No one can over and disturb the entire electromagnetic spectrum everywhere. Also, "spoofing" are only used limited. This requires both transmit power and short distance to the MUM-T Association bzw.dem UAV. In this context, it should also be mentioned that troublemakers are on the battlefield as the primary goals, so they take a high risk. In addition, the obvious countermeasure is to increase the autonomy of unmanned systems and an increasingly passive in aufklärbaren spectrum role of manned helicopter.

ES & T: Is MUM-T can only be achieved with future helicopters, or is also retrofitting the ability for existing systems such as. NH 90 and Tiger possible?

Henning: This capability can also be retrofitted into already established pattern.

ES & T: What are the challenges as related to the individual pattern?

Henning: The challenge is the customer in a common understanding of the various stakeholders of the user, the acquirer and the licensing agency. The all-new area is the merger of the previously parallel worlds manned helicopters and UAS to a common capability MUM-T.

ES & T: to what you need from an industry perspective on the subject MUM-T ahead and make operational?

Henning: Development Technical (I speak here for H145) industry teams are set up. Iteratively we must - as with all the planned launches of fundamentally new functions - in close cooperation with the users that involve various authorities more in the process. The current work is aimed at the development of new skills and the implementation in daily operations. The field of basic research, we have left.

ES & T: What prospects MUM-T offers you and your team?

Henning: MUM-T and the "Unmanned Operations" field general, are currently among the most fascinating areas in aircraft. Here comes a lot of brand new themes together in a real application to entirely new territory. That's something fundamentally motivating for engineers. The team led by the H145 feels himself to be working hereto very privileged.

The interview was Waldemar Geiger