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For reconnaissance and identification in maritime operations (AImEG), the navy will receive three additional drone systems with the unmanned aerial vehicle Skeldar, which the German armed forces call the “Sea Falcon”. Following the approval of the Bundestag committees with a 25 million euro proposal on April 14, 2021, the Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and Use of the Bundeswehr (BAAINBw) can conclude the development and procurement contract with the main contractor ESG Elektroniksystem- und Logistik-GmbH.

Of the 80.3 million euros for the entire project, 52.6 million euros are earmarked for development between 2021 and 2023. This includes project support from IABG for 1.9 million euros. A total of 27.7 million euros are planned for the delivery of the three systems and their integration on the corvettes in 2024 and 2025. Another 3.2 million euros will be held in order to finance the transfer of the results from the pilot phase if necessary.

The consortium led by ESG includes the manufacturer and supplier of the aircraft, UMS Skeldar Sweden, the manufacturer of the corvette, Lürssen Werft, and aviation electronics manufacturer CUONICS.

A drone system consists of two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) Sea Falcon (Skeldar), a ground control station and the equipment with tools and spare parts. The UAVs are programmed and controlled from the ground control station and their sensors are deployed.

Aufklärungsdrohnen für die Korvette K130

The Sea Falcon is a vertical take-off drone that weighs 235 kg (maximum take-off weight) and is powered by a 41 kW twin-cylinder engine. This means it has a service ceiling of 3,000 meters. The operational range for up to six hours of flight duration is 100 km with a maximum speed of 140 km / h. The specified payload is 40 kg. The Sea Falcon is equipped with an observation tower in which electro-optical sensors for images in the optical and infrared range are integrated. These are transmitted to the ground control station in real time. In addition, the Sea Falcon has a camera for looking ahead.

The AImEG project is the continuation of the "Priority Marine Unmanned Aircraft System" (VorMUAS) project, with which the Navy improves the reconnaissance capabilities of the Braunschweig corvette in advance. The Braunschweig is to go into operation with Sea Falcon in the second half of the year.

Gerhard Heiming