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The project "Urgent Marine Unmanned Aircraft System" (VorMUAS) is entering the decisive phase. VorMUAS is the advanced part of the project "Reconnaissance and Identification in the Maritime Environment" (AImEG) with the order to equip the corvettes K130 (1st lot) of the German Navy with drones to expand the range of reconnaissance.

VorMUAS will initially provide an unmanned UMS Skeldar V-200 aircraft system. It consists of two unmanned, approved aircraft with sensors, the integration of the system on the "Braunschweig" corvette, a spare parts package and the training of operating and maintenance personnel.

Federal Government Open House 2019 (Photo: Bundeswehr)

The launch of the Sea Falcon, the system was christened, is closely monitored by the German Navy. For the navy, the challenges of adapting a product available on the market to the requirements of the Bundeswehr must be mastered.

The procurement of the first maritime tactical, unmanned rotary-wing aircraft system for imaging reconnaissance began to close the capability gap of the K 130 flotilla. The integration of the Sea Falcon into the “Braunschweig” corvette is technically demanding. The system must automatically take off and land on their ship's deck in winds up to 20 kn and Sea State 3, have at least five hours of flight time and only use kerosene (F-44) fuel. In addition, modifications to the boat in the areas of the operations center, hangar and landing deck are required for operation and maintenance. Finally, as part of the aviation approval, the system must pass a test to ensure that it does not leave the intended area of ​​application.

The Sea Falcon was already on display at the Federal Government's 2019 open house at the Ministry of Defense in Berlin. The positive response from future users and many visitors confirm all those involved in the project on the path they have chosen.

Skeldar V-200 on board (Photo: UMS)

Project status

The VorMUAS is currently being implemented. The preparatory scaffolding of the K 130 has largely been completed, the system has been produced and the acceptance process will begin shortly. The approval process at the Bundeswehr Aviation Office is ongoing. Other project elements such as training and logistical implementation implement fixed plans that are harmonized with the overall project.

Experience has shown that a new ability to equip is associated with special challenges. In particular, the technical adaptation of the unmanned system to the requirements of the Bundeswehr and the availability of the "Braunschweig" corvette for integration, as well as tests and approvals lead to a delay compared to the original time frame. The project is scheduled to be completed in the second half of 2020.

The automatic ability to take off and land is of central technical importance. The technology required for this is a radio-controlled positioning of the Sea Falcon above the landing deck. Although it is available on the market, it has not yet been possible to finally test it, for example in terms of precision landing ability in high waves.

So far, it has been shown that the ability to provide imaging reconnaissance using the unmanned rotary-wing aircraft system for the K 130 Corvettes is feasible and technically manageable.

Author: Senior Government Council Martin Krükel is a speaker at BAAINBw, Unit L5.2, Tactical UAS.