Intelligence Vital for Maritime Security Success


Maritime sector reviews UAV capabilities as part of future security requirements

Introduction – grades of fuel

The UAV market is growing exponentially. In fact, it is expected to be valued at $14.9 billion by 2020, primarily due to its use in naval and maritime operations.

As a result of global territorial borders, countries are forced to tackle a spectrum of issues including illegal fishing, illegal border crossing, armed robbery of ships and sea piracy, drug trafficking, human trafficking, maritime terrorism, arms smuggling and illegal logging. Therefore, surveillance to resolve these issues becomes a costly and challenging task for any defence operative concerned with its borders.

The security and surveillance role of UAVs have become the latest tool deployed against the murky world of organised criminal activity, where the problem lies within trying to catch out determined individuals or gangs on land or sea using grounded technologies. Most people involved in such activities are well aware of the patch or region within which they operate, so further advanced capabilities are required for the authorities to stay one step ahead. That brings in the use of aerial surveillance and specifically UAVs.

UAV platforms cannot be deployed on every single ship due to the space required to operate it. There should be at least 10×10 meters of deck space to have enough clearance for security during taking off and landing. The ship needs to be equipped with some hangaring facilities; it does not have to be very big but this caters for the logistical footprint.


Development of heavy-fuel engines

UAV’s typically use piston engines and gasoline has been the conventional fuel of choice for UAV engineers. Platforms that burn gasoline are relatively simple and inexpensive to build.

Fuel, of course, comes from crude oil, but crude oil is not a uniform substance. It is made up of liquids of varying densities. Before crude oil can be used to make fuel, it needs to be separated by its different weights – or fractions. As a whole, jet fuel is known as heavy fuel because it is denser and contains more energy in a given volume than gasoline. The reason for using this fuel over gasoline is the fact that it is very hard to ignite and it can sit in storage containers for a very long time without degrading. This makes it relatively safe and reduces the risk of fire on a ship or base.

There are a few different types of fuels that fall in the category of “Heavy Fuel”. Heavy fuel for UAV’s basically means jet fuel (Jet A, JP5, JP8).  The largely Kerosene based JP8 is one of the primary fuels used for this initiative. This requirement supports NATO’s one-fuel policy.

JP-8 is a jet fuel specified and used widely to provide satisfactory performance in aircrafts, as this fuel is formulated with FSII (Fuel System Icing Inhibitor) and CI/LI (Corrosion Inhibitor/Lubricity Improver) additives. Jet fuel is a higher quality than fuels used in less critical applications and contains additives to reduce the risk of icing or explosion due to high temperature, among other properties.

One such UAV that has been built with the maritime industry in mind is our SKELDAR V-200. It not only includes an interface with BMS and C4ISR systems, but also is 4865 STANAG compliant, making it easier to implement on any maritime vessel. With a multiple payload capability and uniquely incorporating heavy fuel, the SKELDAR V-200 has the capability to take off from any ship and in minutes be gathering intelligence within the designated target areas. Government officials across the globe are employing more accurate and cost effective solutions such as UAVs when dealing with security intelligence around its borders.

Bob Schmidt, President at UAV Propulsion Tech, explains the technology behind heavy-fuel platforms:

The SKELDAR V-200, powered by Saab technology, uses JP-8 fuel based on kerosene and the NATO code for it is F-34, it is the most common military jet fuel grade available worldwide. F-34 is manufactured, stored, distributed and delivered under the most stringent quality assurance procedures to ensure that only clean, dry, on-specification fuel is supplied to aircraft.

UMS SKELDAR’s flagship UAV is powered by a two-cylinder, in-line, two-stroke, liquid cooled internal combustion engine. The new engine is provided by Hirth Motors and has been customised for SKELDAR V-200. The platform has a 220 kilo take-off weight and can carry several payload options up to 40 kilos of weight. Hirth has been producing engines since 1917 in Germany and their reputation for reliable lightweight 2-stroke engines in the sport aviation market has helped expand their UAV business over the years as the global demand for UAV engines increases. They have produced over 1 million 2-stroke engines to date.

The 3504DI engine is rated at 55hp and runs at a constant 6,000rpm. It is equipped with an electronic fuel injection / ignition system. The 3504 is a water cooled, reed valve controlled 2- cylinder-inline-2-stroke engine with air assisted direct injection. The air assisted direct injection allows a low fuel consumption and it enables the use of kerosene based fuels. It has one of the highest power to weight ratio available on the 60 HP engine market.

The SKELDAR V-200, which is powered by proven Saab technology, can carry a variety of payloads and sensors including a synthetic aperture radar (SAR), Moving Target Indicator, signals payload, 3D mapping, AIS transponder, and cargo hook.

The SKELDAR V-200 development began in 2004 and the SKELDAR 5 POC prototype completed its maiden flight in May 2006. The development version was designated as the SKELDAR V-200 in 2008. It features a compact layout with segments for accommodating various payload reconfigurations. The equipment compartments are easily accessible through panels and the vertically launched UAV requires no launch or recovery equipment.

The aircraft is equipped with integrated brakes to control the revolution of the rotors. The main rotor can be rapidly dismounted for storage and maintenance. The UAV is capable of flying in a hovering mode and moving slowly, or with high speed in any direction to penetrate enemy lines. It also complies with the national aviation regulations.

The SKELDAR V-200’s major mission capabilities include surveillance, reconnaissance, target attainment and transfer of target data to strike platforms. It can be occasionally used for logistics support and ship-to-ship or ship-to-land transfers in rough weather conditions.


Safety at sea

In order to improve maritime security across these vast areas, military personnel are joining forces to swiftly respond to maritime security areas of concern.

Commander Cdr Anubhav Kumar (retd), Head of Business Development at UMS SKELDAR partner 3F-AS, with 23 years of military career in the Indian Navy an over 2400 hours of flying experience, explains the intensity of the situation:

Asia is extremely proactive when it comes to this type of equipment because you have many islands, huge coastal areas to cover and they have exponential requirements in that part of the world to fight piracy, terrorism or smuggling and off course UAVs are hot commodities.

This is dictated by the variety of issues that occur often without anyone having any prior knowledge of the threats. Cooperation between states is aimed at strengthening and coordinating patrols on the maritime territories of APAC-region by intensifying communication, exchanging information and intelligence, deploying naval assets swiftly to ensure prompt responses to vessels under threat as well as endangerment to humans, and finally to maintaining sound communication with the maritime command centre. To assist countries in their desire for swifter responses to maritime security concerns, the use of UAVs are being deployed.

The SKELDAR V-200 is an excellent choice for maritime operations due to its high flight performance, heavy fuel engine and easy-to-maintenance design. Systems are continuously being improved with the integration of new sensors and different payload according to specific requirements.

At sea, one cannot afford to make any errors and mistakes because it can lead to severe consequences. Therefore, the SKELDAR V-200 comes with a heavy fuel engine, which makes it an ideal choice for navy commanders or maritime installations to use it as their chosen Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. This advanced and sophisticated heavy fuel engine also assists in additional landing and take-off in environments that do not allow conventional oils. While it is an open interface to both BMS and C41SR systems, it also compliant to the 4865 STANAG. As a result, the SKELDAR V-200 is easy to implement on any of the maritime vessels.


The human factor

UAVs can travel great distances whilst gathering data which it sends back to a terminal ground control station (GCS) ready for analysing. The largest factor in considering a VTOL or fixed wing platform solution is it being unmanned; which negates the risks of the human factor within an operated vehicle. In comparison with manned patrols which are not only expensive to deploy, but also cannot cover vast areas due to the humane limitations on sight, aerial capabilities and operation outside sleep and rest, a UAV can cover the area required quickly and efficiently, all the while gathering invaluable data. This data can be analysed live according to the user whilst the UAV is targeting specified locations.

According to a report released this week ‘Global Land Based C4ISR Market: Analysis of Growth, Trends Progress and Challenges (2015-2020’) the Air Based C4ISR systems market will be the fastest growing amongst all types of C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) by 2020. This will be led by increased acquisitions of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

UMS SKELDAR Training Director Ewen Stockbridge-Sime, who specialises in global civilian and military ISR/ C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) strategies, highlighted the importance of UAV Managed Services.

Recent naval UAV operations have confirmed the importance of IRS and SAR (Search and Rescue) strategies within complex territories and how UAVs can be used as a stand-alone or integrated platform deployed from land bases or seaborne. This is where ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) plays a pivotal role in strengthening border security, which in its wider context is crucial in combating threats of smuggling, terrorist financing and pressures on national sovereignty.

SKELDAR V-200 can be operated by two to four personnel, including the UCS operator. The system can be controlled by the shipboard crew, avoiding the requirement of having a dedicated UAV crew. Designed specifically to be maritime capable, the SKELDAR V-200 is powered by a heavy fuel engine, easily operated on ships equipped for helicopter operations and provides multi-payload capability. The compact solution is fully autonomous, controlled by high-level-commands; the operator can use Point-and-Fly or Point-and-See techniques to guide the UAV towards a destination or surveillance target. SKELDAR V-200 has also a ground control station features an intuitive man-machine interface and requires minimal operator input.


Future developments

With those involved in illegal activities now resorting to sophisticated means, from illegal boarding of merchant ships to transporting contraband, the role of agencies in detection and prevention is more challenging than ever before.

The SKELDAR V-200 was deployed on naval asset during counter piracy patrols in the International Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) in Gulf of Aden. The patrols help to provide a safe and secure environment for merchant vessels. The UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System) was operated and maintained by UMS SKELDAR personnel, from a Maritime Patrol Ship.

SKELDAR V-200’s system is great for highly effective vertical take-off & landing (VTOL) and this makes it suitable for seaborne missions. With the help of multiple payload options along with great engineering, no other UAV can match the SKELDAR V-200 in Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) and search and rescue (SAR) roles.

Navies and security agencies around the world are increasingly relying on unmanned aerial vehicles for their reconnaissance and surveillance needs, thereby contributing to the development of the overall “drone” market that is expected to reach USD 14.9 billion by 2020.