HENSOLDT, Elettronica, Indra and Thales Team Up for European MALE Drone Programme
Four European Champions in the area of Defence Mission Systems intend to combine their unique and complementary capabilities to provide the MALE (Medium Altitude, Long Endurance) drone programme of France, Germany, Italy and Spain – designated European MALE RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) – with a future-proof ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) function.
The companies Elettronica, HENSOLDT, Indra and Thales signed a memorandum of agreement, in compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, confirming their common goal to offer a coherent ISTAR functional chain for the MALE RPAS comprising all elements from sensors and computing through data processing and communications. The team is open to cooperation with other companies.
The four companies will bring their longstanding experience and technology leadership in defence electronics and mission systems into the joint approach, thereby substantially reducing the inherent risk of such challenging programme. This will safeguard the target-oriented implementation in time and cost while guaranteeing the growth potential required to address future tasks.
“The future operating environment of air forces will bring a variety of flying platforms into one force-multiplying network”, said CEO HENSOLDT Thomas Müller. “The close cooperation of the various platforms’ mission systems is paramount to leverage the advantage of such highly complex network. Therefore, the architecture of the new RPAS mission system must be in the hands of the subject-matter experts from the start, tailoring its development irrespective of single platform aspects.”
“Thales, HENSOLDT, Elettronica and Indra, have big ambitions based on a shared vision of the digital transformation of their industries and customers. Thales will be using its expertise in Defence Mission Systems mastering four key digital technologies of Connectivity, Big Data, AI, and Cyber-security. We offer our clients decisive technologies to take the best decision in real time.” said chairman and CEO Thales Patrice Caine.
“We are building industrial cooperation in Europe and preparing for a future in which defence investments will be mainly performed at European level. This alliance will pave the way for future large programmes currently being defined in Europe,” said executive director Indra Ignacio Mataix.
“Our long-term experience in collaboration programmes and our mindset will be beneficial in terms of risk reduction and full capability achievement. The teaming with our historical European partners will lead to a high level of success,” said chairman and CEO Elettronica Enzo Benigni.
The European MALE RPAS programme is managed by the European procurement agency OCCAR. A Definition Study contract was signed on 26 August 2016 with the European aircraft manufacturers Airbus Defence and Space, Dassault and Leonardo. The Development Phase is expected to be launched in 2019.
Team Eurofighter Presents Tornado Replacement Offer to Germany
On the eve of the ILA Berlin Air Show 2018 on April 24, Airbus and Eurofighter GmbH have submitted their offer to the German ministry of defence for a replacement of the Bundeswehr’s ageing Tornado combat aircraft, which was developed in the Sixties, and have established the Eurofighter as its ideal successor.
Currently, the German Air Force is planning to phase out the Tornado from 2025 onwards and to transfer capabilities to another weapon system. As the Eurofighter system is already in use by Germany, this system could seamlessly adopt the capabilities of the Tornado aircraft. In addition, increased use of the same type of aircraft would result in considerable cost savings in terms of support services and training costs due to economies of scale, which would also reduce per-hour flying costs within the German Armed Forces.
“The Eurofighter is already the backbone of the German Air Force and is therefore the logical option to adopt the capabilities of the Tornado in the medium term,” said Head of Marketing & Sales at Airbus Defence and Space Bernhard Brenner. “We have an excellent aircraft, its production secures important aircraft construction know-how in Germany and, at the same time, strongly supports European sovereignty in defence. The successful continuation of Eurofighter production could also lead to further cooperation with other European nations such as Switzerland, Belgium and Finland.”
CEO Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH Volker Paltzo said: “I am confident that Eurofighter Typhoon can provide a cost effective and attractive solution for Germany, which will deliver every capability and perform every mission the German Air Force needs.”
In the medium term, the further development of the Eurofighter will provide the technological basis for the next generation of European combat aircraft. The intent of collaboration was agreed between France and Germany in July 2017 and these aircraft are currently expected to enter into service around 2040.
In the UK, Eurofighter is already increasingly taking over the tasks of the Tornado, as the Royal Air Force has decided to retire its Tornado fleet in 2019.
The Bundeswehr currently operates 130 Eurofighters and 90 Tornados. The German Air Force’s fleet of combat aircraft is used both for missions to secure airspace sovereignty over Germany and in international NATO alliance missions around the world.
HENSOLDT Unveils Deployable Counter-UAV System ‘Xpeller Rapid’
At the show the sensor solutions provider HENSOLDT unveils its Xpeller counter-UAV system for the first time in a compact and deployable version called ‘Xpeller Rapid’.
The new configuration combines a radar system, a camera, radio detectors and jammers. The system can either be integrated into a vehicle or can be used in a transport container for rapid deployment. Thanks to sensor fusion, which is effected via a smart control software application, all UAV-relevant signals are detected with high precision and extremely short reaction times are ensured.
The modular Xpeller product family includes various sensors such as radar systems, cameras and radio frequency detectors as well as direction finders and jammers. Xpeller uses sensors to detect and identify a drone and assess its threat potential at ranges from a few hundred metres up to several kilometres. Based on real-time analyses of the control signals, a jammer then interrupts the link between drone and pilot or interferes with its navigation. The modular Xpeller system concept allows customised solutions to be created by combining individual devices from the product family depending on customer requirements and the local conditions. This way, the customer can select from a set of components and countermeasures. HENSOLDT also supports the development of individual security concepts offering consultancy and weak point analysis.
Raytheon’s 360 Degree AESA Radar Passes 3,000 Hours of Operations
Raytheon’s 360-degree capable, gallium nitride -powered active electronically scanned array, a Raytheon funded and proposed upgrade to the Patriot Air and Missile Defence System, recently completed 3,000 hours of operation.
“The company-funded radar has demonstrated 360-degree capability, tracking tactical targets such as manoeuvring fighter aircraft, simulated cruise and ballistic missiles, and drones,” said vice president of Integrated Air and Missile Defence for Raytheon’s Integrated Defence Systems business Tom Laliberty at the ILA Berlin Air Show.
To prove 360-degree capability of the Raytheon-funded radar, a main AESA GaN antenna array worked with a second GaN-based AESA antenna that was pointed in a different direction. As targets flew out of one array’s field of view and into another, the two arrays seamlessly passed information back and forth, continuously tracking — and providing quality fire control data — on multiple targets.
“It is clear that our partner Raytheon’s radar has far surpassed the decades-old, 20th-century gallium arsenide radar technology being proposed by the MEADS development project,” said senior vice president and Head of Air Defence Programmes Rheinmetall Germany Harald Mannheim. “Raytheon’s AESA GaN technology is capable, mature and ideally suited for the needs of the German Air Force.”
Rheinmetall and Raytheon have a strategic teaming agreement, providing a full spectrum integrated air defence solution for the German Air Force.
“Our partner Raytheon is able to rapidly deliver this capability, ensuring that Germany will have the ability to defend its forces from threats in any direction, even, if required for the upcoming Baltic deployment in 2023 in support of NATO operations,” Mannheim added.
The Raytheon-funded GaN-based AESA radar will work with the Integrated Air and Missile Defence Battle Command System and other open architectures. It maintains compatibility with the current Patriot Engagement Control Station and is full interoperability with NATO systems, such as the German SAMOC.
Airbus and Dassault Aviation Join Forces for Europe’s Next Gen Combat Aircraft
Airbus and Dassault Aviation have decided to join forces for the development and production of Europe’s Future Combat Air System (FCAS), which is slated to complement and eventually will replace current generation of Eurofighter and Rafale fighter aircraft between 2035 and 2040.
The partnership, sealed in Berlin by CEO Airbus Defence and Space Dirk Hoke and chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation Eric Trappier represents a landmark industrial agreement to secure European sovereignty and technological leadership in the military aviation sector for the coming decades.
“Never before has Europe been more determined to safeguard and foster its political and industrial autonomy and sovereignty in the defence sector. Airbus and Dassault Aviation have absolutely the right expertise to lead the FCAS project. Both companies are already cooperating successfully on Europe’s medium altitude long endurance new generation drone programme,” said Dirk Hoke. “FCAS takes this successful cooperation to the next level and we are absolutely committed to tackling this challenging mission together with Dassault Aviation. The schedule is tight, so we need to start working together immediately by defining a joint roadmap on how best to meet the requirements and timelines to be set by the two nations. It is, therefore, of key importance that France and Germany launch an initial joint study this year to address this task.”
Eric Trappier said, “We are convinced that by deploying our joint expertise, Dassault Aviation and Airbus can best meet the operational requirements of the Forces in the development of this critically important European programme. Both companies fully intend to work together in the most pragmatic and efficient manner. Our joint roadmap will include proposals to develop demonstrators for the FCAS programme as of 2025. I am convinced that European sovereignty and strategic autonomy can and will only be ensured through independent European solutions. The vision that France and Germany have set forth with FCAS is a bold one and it’s an important signal in, and for, Europe. The FCAS programme will strengthen the political and military ties between Europe’s core nations and it will reinvigorate its aerospace industry.”
Airbus Defence and Space and Dassault Aviation agree on the importance of efficient industrial governance in military programmes. This also includes the involvement of other key European defence industrial players and nations based on government funding and on the principle of best contribution.
HENSOLDT Presents ‘TwInvis’ Passive Radar for the First Time in Live Operation
HENSOLDT for the first time presented its passive radar system called ‘TwInvis’ to the public in live operation. The new product name ‘TwInvis’ is made up from ‘twin’ + ‘invisible’, as neither TwInvis itself nor the targets to be detected emit any signals on their own, which means that they are ‘invisible’. The TwInvis system, which can be integrated into an all-terrain vehicle or a van, does not emit its own signals to monitor air traffic, but simply ‘passively’ analyses the echoes of signals from radio or TV stations.
“Our newly developed, highly sensitive digital receivers now make it possible for a single TwInvis system to monitor up to 200 aircraft in 3D within a radius of 250 kilometres. This was unthinkable even just a few years ago,” said CEO HENSOLDT Thomas Müller. “This will open up completely new options for application in such fields as air defence, the protection of large events or air traffic control.”
Working as mere receivers, passive radar systems detect aircraft by analysing the signals that they reflect from existing third-party emissions. HENSOLDT’s TwInvis system excels with a very precise picture of the airspace covered, which is obtained by simultaneously analysing a large number of frequency bands. For example, up to 16 FM transmitters (analogue radio) plus 5 frequencies used by several DAB and DAB+ transmitters (digital radio) as well as DVB-T and DVB-T2 (digital, terrestrial television) can be simultaneously analysed for the first time. Furthermore, HENSOLDT’s new generation of software will provide unprecedented performance in terms of range and precision of detection.
In civil applications, passive radar systems make cost-effective air traffic control possible without any additional emissions and without using transmission frequencies, which are in short supply. In military applications, the system enables wide-area surveillance using networked receivers, while offering the advantage that passive radar systems cannot be located by the enemy and are very hard to jam. Moreover, no agreement is required with any other public authority, as there is no radiation, which allows the system to be quickly ready for deployment in new locations and to also be used in urban areas. This results in another advantage of the new technology: the system can be used in places where coverage was previously inadequate, in particular for example, in mountainous regions.
TwInvis has already shown what it can do in several demonstrations to military customers, air traffic control organisations and other interested parties. Two TwInvis demonstrators have already been delivered to potential customers in Europe.’
HENSOLDT Exceeds Growth Targets
The sensor solutions provider HENSOLDT has exceeded its growth targets in the first year of its existence. After taking stock for the first time at the International Aviation Exhibition (ILA) in Berlin, CEO HENSOLDT, Thomas Müller announced that the company, which was originally formed in 2017 from the Airbus Group’s defence electronics activities, had recorded order intakes and revenues in excess of the Euro 1 billion threshold, thus surpassing its target by a wide margin. In 2017, HENSOLDT managed to secure orders worth Euro 1.2 billion, while revenues increased to almost Euro 1.1 billion. This economic success will also ‘pay off’ for the employees. Every employee fully entitled to benefits will receive a bonus of Euro 2,625 for last year.
“In only one year, we have managed to change our entire way of working, create a new identity and earn recognition and a strong position in the market for sensors, optronics and avionics,” Müller. “At the same time, we have conquered new markets and taken over three other companies. That is a great achievement by the members of HENSOLDT’s staff.”
In this first year, HENSOLDT also created a specific unit by the name of HENSOLDT Ventures for developing new fields of activity. This unit, which is not part of the company’s line organisation, has the task of implementing creative business ideas in a start-up environment. HENSOLDT Ventures is already working on a system for detecting and countering UAVs as well as on a sensor-assisted system for inspecting wind turbine rotary blades and also on a service package for 3D printing.
As a technology leader, HENSOLDT is also pursuing innovative approaches in the area of cyber security. In this strongly growing field, HENSOLDT has formed a joint venture company called HENSOLDT Cyber with the cyber security specialist Secure Elements, which develops security-hardened basic IT systems.
The most prominent air and space platforms equipped with HENSOLDT products include the F-16, Eurofighter, Gripen and Rafale combat aircraft, the Tandem-X and EDRS-A satellites, the A400M transport aircraft as well as helicopters of various types.
Full Scale Model of European MALE RPAS Drone Unveiled
On April 26 the first full scale model of the European Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft (MALE RPAS) was unveiled.
The reveal ceremony, led by CEO Airbus Defence and Space, Dirk Hoke, chairman and CEO Dassault Aviation, Eric Trappier and managing director Leonardo Aircraft Division, Lucio Valerio Cioffi confirms the commitment of the four European States and Industrial partners to jointly develop a sovereign solution for European Defence and Security.
The unveiling of the full scale model and the reaffirmed commitment comes after a nearly two-year definition study launched in September 2016 by the four participating nations Germany, France, Italy and Spain and follows the Declaration of Intent to work together on a European MALE unmanned aerial system signed by the countries in May 2015.
“While still a lot of work lies ahead of us, this full scale model represents a first milestone of what Europe can achieve in a high-technology sector if it bundles its industrial strength and know-how” said Dirk Hoke. “The MALE RPAS will become an integral part in guaranteeing Europe’s sovereignty in the future. This programme is ideally suited to meet urgent capability requirements of Europe’s armed forces. This innovative partnership also eases the countries’ constrained budgetary situation through clever pooling of research and development funds,” he added.
“Today’s unveiling reflects our companies’ total dedication to the European Defence and Security sovereignty. Cooperation and high technology legitimate the leadership of the European Industry and guarantee the strategic autonomy of Europe,” said Eric Trappier. “Innovative programmes through efficient partnerships will serve European competitiveness and will offer new alternatives to the off-the-shelf acquisition of non-European products. Dassault Aviation reaffirms its full support to Airbus Defence and Space as programme leader of the MALE RPAS.”
“Unmanned technologies and their applications represent one of the key technological foundations for the future evolution of European Defence Industries,” said Lucio Valerio Cioffi. “The European MALE RPAS is orientated to foster the development of high technologies and will contribute to sustaining key competencies and jobs within Europe providing armed forces with an high performance and sovereign operational system,” he added.