EC Funded Programme for Maritime Surveillance
Safran Electronics & Defence has won a major role in the European Commission’s (EC) 2017 Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR) as part of the OCEAN2020 consortium, the company announced on 7 February. PADR is a three-year programme established by the EC to test the European Union’s defence Research & Technology funding mechanisms, via several targeted projects. It heralds the launch of a framework programme to support defence research, due to start in 2021.
The consortium, led by Leonardo, brings industrials, academic institutions and government agencies from 15 European nations together. The EC programme, with €35 million in funding, aims to develop a technology demonstrator that will validate the concept of deploying a complete array of unmanned systems – air, surface and sub-surface – for surveillance in a maritime environment. The winning team will conduct two demonstrations involving the operation of new surveillance systems and integrated information processing systems, deployed in several European naval exercises, first in the Mediterranean in 2019 then in the Baltic Sea in 2020.
During these naval operations, Safran will deploy a maritime surveillance version of its PATROLLER drone. The only fixed-wing, long-endurance drone taking part in these demonstrations, the PATROLLER will also be outfitted with a new mission system, including a maritime surveillance radar, an automatic identification system (AIS) for ships and Safran’s EuroflirTM 410 optronic pod, already used on the army version of the PATROLLER. The data collected by this multi-sensor suite will be transmitted to the combat systems on several warships, as well as to operations centres.
Safran will contribute to the innovative nature of the OCEAN2020 project by developing an autonomous mission function for naval drones. An onboard data processing function will enable the PATROLLER drone to detect and automatically track suspect ships in its search zone, while also consolidating key data (speed, trajectory, size, registration numbers, other visual proofs, etc.) to facilitate the job of operators. These new functionalities will offer a decisive advantage in ensuring the success of drone surveillance operations by navies and government agencies.
“We are very proud to be advancing our roadmap for drone mission systems in maritime surveillance applications. We’re very fortunate to be able to apply our skills to help develop this large-scale European defence R&D programme,” commented Safran Electronics & Defence’s Chief Innovation Officer, Thierry Duproux.