UAS Secure the Mediterranean

UAS Secure the Mediterranean

UAS Secure the Mediterranean

Thousands of years in the past, intrepid sailors used the day’s modern aids—landmarks and constellations, evolving nautical charts and sounding weights—to handle the challenges of navigating the Mediterranean. Now, in that very same area, UAVs are being acknowledged for his or her potential to ship intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance (ISR) to deal with thorny points akin to competitors for pure assets, the fights towards terrorism and transnational organized crime, local weather change and migration, lowering human workload whereas augmenting capabilities.

Many of the businesses partaking in drone-based ISR within the Mediterranean are reluctant to debate their actions, particularly given sensitivities round present border-related points. Schiebel and Leonardo will not be.

Schiebel Elektronische Geräte is a Vienna-based firm finishing up drone operations for the European Maritime Environment Agency (EMSA). Under a contract awarded in 2018, it has flown its vertical-takeoff-and-landing CAMCOPTER S-100 UAS on quite a few missions. Operations have concerned maritime surveillance, coast guard features, search and rescue, and emissions monitoring in a lot of European international locations, together with Croatia, on the Adriatic coast.

“We used the CAMCOPTER S-100 particularly to measure ships’ sulfur emissions,” mentioned Neil Hunter, director enterprise improvement at Schiebel, “to examine compliance with EU guidelines governing the sulfur content material of marine fuels. Measurements are transmitted in actual time by way of the EMSA RPAS (remotely piloted aerial techniques) Data Center to the related authorities.

“Up to now, these sorts of missions have largely been carried out with manned plane, which have the next flight value per hour,” Hunter mentioned. “The use of unmanned air techniques permits for uninteresting, soiled and harmful operations now not needing to be carried out with manned plane, therefore not endangering lives and having the ability to fly into hard-to-reach areas.”

The S-100 can keep airborne for greater than 6 hours and may function day and evening. It is provided with an Explicit “mini sniffer” sensor system, an electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) digicam gimbal and an computerized identification system (AIS) receiver. Depending on the mission, different payloads and sensors can be utilized, such because the L3Harris WASCAM EO/IR digicam gimbal, the Overwatch Imaging PT-8 Oceanwatch or the Becker Avionics BD406 emergency beacon locator.

UAS Secure the Mediterranean


The European Union, whose southern border is shaped by the Mediterranean Sea, is striving to maneuver past disaster administration and towards a extra coherent and sustainable border safety technique. The EU’s European Border Surveillance system (Eurosur) allows cooperation between the EU member states and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, also called Frontex. Working collectively, member states and Frontex goal to enhance situational consciousness and response capabilities, stopping cross-border crime and irregular migration, and defending the lives of refugees and migrants.

Meanwhile, growing budgetary pressures have put the emphasis on leaner and extra technically superior techniques for protection and homeland safety operations. These options incorporate synthetic intelligence, huge information analytics, C4ISR (command, management, communications, computer systems, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) techniques—and UAVs.

Like EMSA, Frontex has been actively testing drones in monitoring operations within the Mediterranean. In 2018, the company signed contracts for operations using drones within the medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) class for border surveillance in Greece, Italy and Portugal, the acknowledged goal being to discover surveillance capabilities and consider value effectivity and endurance. Frontex has since examined unmanned plane in a number of real-life conditions, together with surveillance at sea, assist for search-and-rescue operations and detection of vessels suspected of felony actions, together with medication and weapons smuggling. It additionally has examined sharing provisions with a number of customers in actual time.


A key Frontex trial was carried out by Rome-based safety/protection firm Leonardo, in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Interior and Guardia di Finanza (Italian Customs Guard). Fabrizio Boggiani is senior vice chairman airborne systems-electronics Italy at Leonardo. His view: “What has occurred to date is actually experimentation and proof of idea, utilizing unmanned drones or RPAS, typically talking, for missions that may be known as surveillance.

“During our work with Frontex, we took off from the Italian island of Lampedusa, directed by the Customs Guard, who had been receiving directions about what to do, the place to go, from Frontex,” Boggiani mentioned. Operations take a look at the applied sciences themselves but in addition the cooperative preparations and communications techniques. Leonardo was known as upon to undertake surveillance missions of lively targets at sea.

“We would fly to the realm of operations,” Boggiani mentioned, “after which we might have a sure sample of surveillance. It could possibly be totally different when it comes to dimension and form, and within the frequency of runs over the identical space, after which we might come again.” Leonardo used its Falco EVO for these operations. “The fundamental configuration for such a mission, a surveillance mission, entails a maritime surveillance radar and two electro-optics airborne turrets that may accommodate an optical digicam, infra-red digicam, thermal digicam and so forth. Over the ocean, we fly with an AIS, an computerized identification system, for recognizing the id, good friend or foe, of no matter is on the floor.”

The Falco EVO is a mature platform, simply adaptable to rising conditions. Boggiani mentioned, “We can change the flight plan at any time, even once we are already within the air. We can change the realm of operation, the sample. We can change targets, and clearly if there’s something of curiosity, the flight coordinator can inform us, for instance, to observe a brand new goal.”

In 2019, as a part of the Frontex trial, certainly one of Leonardo’s Falco EVO drone techniques helped European police detect a felony scheme. Leonardo launched the fixed-wing drone from Lampedusa, which then positioned a vessel engaged in felony exercise. The drone tracked the vessel till an enforcement operation could possibly be launched by Italian authorities.

The Falco EVO is managed by three operators working in a ground-based management station: one pilot, one payload operator and a floor management station supervisor. “There can be a mission coordinator,” Boggiani mentioned, “who typically represents the tip person. The mission coordinator understands the duty that they need us to perform, and so they give us directions. We can fly autonomously, within the sense of totally autonomous lift-off and touchdown, and following a sure pre-planned route, however the directions from the mission coordinator can change throughout a mission. So there are at all times folks within the loop.

“Up to now, after all, we have now used manned plane to do this sort of work, or it could possibly be one thing on the ocean, or from the coasts, like utilizing radar, coastal radar or a lot of these issues,” Boggiani mentioned. UAV advantages embody low emissions, small dimension and low weight. Also, long-distance and long-endurance flights are a lot simpler to realize with out people on board. “In one case we logged a 17 hour 21 minute uninterrupted flight with our Falco EVO out of Lampedusa. We may also do in a single day missions.”

Another benefit is Leonardo’s service formulation. “As an finish person who solely desires the knowledge, you may keep away from the necessity to prepare your folks,” Boggiani mentioned. “You can merely purchase the knowledge you need. The Italian authorities has taken this service-based strategy; they don’t seem to be shopping for drones; they’re shopping for flight hours and information and data offered by sensors onboard the drones. It is similar formulation we have now been making use of since 2013, once we had the primary contract with the United Nations for drone companies supporting a peacekeeping mission within the Democratic Republic of Congo. Obviously, right here we’re speaking about surveillance of an institutional or non-military nature. We will not be speaking about issues that may be linked to navy or protection, the place it may be a distinct story.”

UAS Secure the Mediterranean


Once once more, a key factor of curiosity for Frontex has been coordinate operations involving totally different technical improvements and management techniques throughout regulatory our bodies and nationwide jurisdictions. Though European international locations on the Mediterranean could also be a part of the identical European Union, every nation nonetheless maintains management over its personal airspace, usually below distinctive provisions.

Thus, all Frontex trials have been carried out in shut cooperation with nationwide aviation, safety and/or protection authorities. The Leonardo/Italian Customs Guard concerned a complete of 300 flight hours targeted on unlawful cross-Mediterranean actions and trafficking from the North African coast and inland to Italy. The Greek trials featured the same scope and association, involving Hellenic coast guard, civil and air drive authorities. Leonardo additionally has been a part of the same home Italian path, involving one other set of cooperative preparations.

For greater drones—the Falco EVO has a most take-off weight of 650 kilograms—rules in Europe will not be but totally in place and dealing pointers are typically derived from manned plane rules. For particular missions, coordination is dealt with by the suitable nationwide authority for visitors management. In Italy, for instance, that might be INAC (Instituto Nacional de Aviación Civil).

As for the Frontex trials, Boggiani believed that Leonardo is the one operator thus far to have obtained a allow to fly protecting two European nations, on this case Italy and Malta. This was essential as a result of explicit routes flown out of Lampedusa, which is located simply 15 nautical miles from the Maltese flight info area.


Drones and different unmanned techniques at the moment are working in growing numbers, monitoring delicate and strategic belongings and assets, each industrial and public, and accumulating info on hostile or clandestine actions.

Military organizations will no doubt proceed to make use of drones for ISR. Boggiani mentioned he expects institutional, governmental functions, typically involving surveillance, to extend for inhabited areas. Applications can embody monitoring of nationwide vital infrastructures and worthwhile industrial belongings, or within the case of disasters or emergency conditions, each on land and at sea. “For the time being we’re flying extra over the ocean or over low-populated areas. With bettering specs and certification, we are able to prolong the areas the place drones can fly.”

Multitasking is one other space of increasing curiosity. The Falco Xplorer is a brand new fixed-wing drone by Leonardo, with an 18.8 meter wingspan and a 1,300-kilogram most takeoff weight, enabling multisensor, multi-end-user, long-endurance missions. “You can placed on board such a giant variety of various kinds of sensors, you may carry out one mission serving a number of functions, so that you save time and scale back emissions.” The similar service-based enterprise mannequin applies, with customers buying info, not {hardware}.

In the Mediterranean specifically, Boggiani mentioned higher coordination is a urgent want. “What we see extra on the Mediterranean is totally different entities attempting to work collectively in a extra environment friendly means. In navy functions, interoperability and connection and networking of knowledge are very properly developed. This is one thing that might occur with institutional functions. Bringing collectively air belongings, floor belongings, marine belongings, and so forth, we are able to share info coming from totally different sources.”