ESG to deliver Sea Falcon UAS to German Navy

German defence company Elektroniksystem- und Logistik-GmbH (ESG) has been awarded a contract for the procurement of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) for the K130 corvettes. The UAS is supposed to enhance the imaging abilities of the corvettes.


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On the 8th of November, the German Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) has concluded a contract with ESG as the prime contractor for the procurement of three Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), introduced in the Bundeswehr under the name "Sea Falcon", for the German Navy's K130 corvettes.

With the implementation of the project "Reconnaissance and Identification in the Maritime Operational Area (AImEG)", the corvettes' capabilities for image reconnaissance will be significantly expanded: in the future, objects can be detected and identified with the Sea Falcon far beyond the on-board sensor system.

A single UAS consists of two Skeldar V-200 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), a ground control station integrated on the corvette from which the aircraft is guided, and other equipment such as tools and spare parts. The Sea Falcon is based on the type Skeldar V-200 of the Swedish manufacturer UMS Skeldar AB and can operate for up to 5 hours with a maximum take-off weight of 235kg, a maximum speed of 75 knots and a payload of up to 40kg. It can take off and land automatically on the deck of the corvette in up to 20 knots of wind speed and "Sea State 3". An integrated sensor transmits real-time optical and infrared images to the ground control station. The V-200 started development in 2005, being first unveiled the following year. The vehicle is also used by the Royal Canadian Navy, where it is known as the CU-176 Gargoyle, as well as the Royal Netherlands and the Belgian Navies.

The AImEG project, under which the Sea Falcon is contracted, comprises a period of 4 years: The initial pilot phase will see the development and certification with regard to the adaptation requirements of the German Armed Forces, as well as the delivery of a UAS and integration into a corvette. This also includes the initial training of Navy personnel as well as comprehensive logistical services. It is followed by the series production phase, which will see the delivery of two further systems, one of which will also be integrated into another corvette and the third used for land-based training. In addition, three armament sets will be delivered for the future pre-fitting of further corvettes to accommodate a UAS.

A special feature within the scope of the adaptation developments is the extension of the so-called "Safety Critical Chain", which will be concluded with a military certification. The Safety Critical Chain ensures that the aircraft cannot leave an intended area of operation.

The K130 class (also known as Braunschweig class) on which the system is to be mounted is the newest corvette the German Navy currently operates. The first ship entered service in 2008, as part of a batch of five ships which are currently being followed up by another batch of five, the first of which is expected to enter service in 2023. The primary purpose of the ship is reconnaissance, gathering signals intelligence (SIGINT), as well as image intelligence (IMINT), but it is also armed with guided missiles to engage targets on the sea and in the air. While equipped with a landing pad big enough for standard helicopters, its hangar is designed to accommodate unmanned vehicles, such as the Sea Falcon.

In the AImEG project, ESG assumes overall responsibility on the industry side as general contractor and system support company. The overall service is provided in partnership with three other industrial partners: Swedish UMS Skeldar AB as manufacturer and supplier of the aircraft, German NVL B.V. & Co. KG (formerly Fr. Lürssen Werft GmbH & Co. KG) as the manufacturer of the corvette and UAS integrator, and German CUONICS GmbH as the aviation electronics parts developer and manufacturer. UMS Skeldar is a joint venture between Saab and UMS AERO Group and is Europe’s leading provider of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) including the Skeldar V-200 and the flexible high-performance V-150 UAS. The company provides total solutions to customers across the globe, including development, manufacture, testing, training, consultancy, maintenance, and managed services.

By Kevin Klemann 

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