Airbus Defence & Space is planning to offer a high-altitude unmanned air vehicle-based surveillance capability for disaster relief, using a variety of systems that it is in the process of finalising.
Speaking to media in London on 25 November, Steve Whitby, strategic business manager, said the company’s Zephyr high altitude pseudo satellite (HAPS) could receive data feeds from aircraft carrying the company’s Mobile IP Node communications relay payload, which could then feed back to the Deployable Communication and Information System (DCIS) that it has developed for NATO.
The announcement comes at a time when the company is waiting to deliver three of its NATO Response Force DCIS systems to the Alliance, following a successful trial in March. The system underwent a couple of weeks of testing in Poland – the current signals rotational lead in NATO – and received positive feedback on its performance.
“UAVs and aircraft collect lots of imagery. How do you get that back to whoever needs it?” Whitby asks. “We are definitely predicting that this will easily provide the user with a communications hub, particularly in scenarios such as disaster relief, when there is no infrastructure.”
The combination of systems would provide a low-cost, easily deployable surveillance capability, Whitby says, which would be ideal for disaster relief situations when speed of deployment is essential and infrastructure is likely to be absent.
For this application, the company’s communications relay Mobile IP Node could be integrated onto airborne warning and control system air platforms, as well as other surveillance aircraft. These would feed back to the Zephyr, which could then relay all information to the DCIS