Modelling solution on air defence experience
Thales is still defining the concept behind its proposed counter-unmanned aerial vehicle (C-UAV) system, which it says will be distinguishable from the array of similar systems that have flooded the market in recent years.
Despite the market becoming saturated with these C-UAV offerings as other companies and consortiums push to introduce their concepts, Thales is taking its time with development, having first disclosed its work in 2015.
“We are currently working on the core package,” Alain Ramseyer, business development and advanced air defence operations centre systems director for Thales, told media on 27 February. It is part modelling the offering on its air defence experience, which combines surveillance, command and control (C2), and countermeasures into one system.
“Our strength is really to work inside Thales,” Ramseyer said. This will include leveraging the radar, electro-optical and C2 experience that the company has. “We will use all of these devices to ensure that identification is correct,” he noted.
The company could not offer any detail on the technology readiness level of the system, but Ramseyer claimed that there is planning in place for full development.
“We have developed a roadmap,” he said. “The first capability is now being tested, and after that it depends on deals that we have with the MoD.
We have a large knowledge of radar, and ESM [electronic support measures] also. Our strength is really to be able to work inside Thales – and with other small companies – to find the best devices to be integrated into the systems to manage this kind of surveillance.”
Regarding countermeasures, this will vary depending on requirements from prospective customers, Ramseyer says: “We are testing different solutions to be able to propose, which will be developed depending on the needs of the customers.”
He claimed that the approach to development may be slightly different to other competitive C-UAV systems, but the principle is largely the same. “If you look at some of the proposals, some companies are only focused on one part of the problem, but here we are looking at the global problem by defining new concepts of operations.”
Testing at the moment is largely internal, but the aim is to eventually demonstrate this to the French ministry of defence, which is keen to adopt technology of this kind.
Thales previously participated in a French national research agency developmental C-UAV programme called Angelas. It was coordinated by Onera – the French aerospace laboratory – and included a number of organisations to demonstrate C-UAV technology over an 18-month period.