Mission Critical

David Willems, Head of Sales & Marketing

Why UAVs would benefit Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines

David Willems, Global Business Development Director of UMS SKELDAR, tackles the issues related to aerial patrol within the APAC region and provides solutions to better scope the region.

The dynamic unmanned aircraft vehicle (UAV) market covers a spectrum of applications in the defence, commercial, and homeland security sectors and according to industry researchers, is forecast to be worth US$14.9 billion by 2020.

Across the Asia Pacific region, in particular Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, there are a wide variety of maritime issues being confronted by officials every day. Geographical scoping of the region is a challenge and costly exercise for defence operatives, and this has necessitated the requirement of aerial surveillance such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in order to provide real-time information.

It is well known that Malaysia is endowed with a large maritime realm covering sea areas of over 600,000 square kilometres and continental shelf areas of approximately 476,761 kilometres. These areas have an abundance of marine resources which fuel the country’s economic growth and provide nutrition to its people. However, the large sea area and expansive resources carry immense management responsibilities ranging from ensuring the integrity of Malaysia’s sovereignty over its maritime territories to the sustainable development of marine resources. Additionally, Malaysia is expected to lawfully uphold its responsibilities as a member of the international community as stipulated in the many international ratified maritime conventions.

In another spectrum, Indonesia is encapsulated with the world’s second largest coastline – 93,000 sq km of inland seas (straits, bays and other bodies of water) from a total land area of 1,919,317 sq km. The additional sea areas bring Indonesia’s total recognised territory to approximately five million square kilometres.

As a result of its location and territorial borders, the region is engrossed with a wide range 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.

In order to improve maritime security across these vast areas, key military personnel of the three nations all signed a treaty outlining the framework for trilateral cooperation on how to swiftly respond to maritime security areas of concern, following the third Joint Working Group meeting on trilateral maritime patrols on 14th July 2016.

The trilateral cooperation is aimed at strengthening and coordinating patrols on the maritime territories of Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines 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.

As discussed, maritime security is a huge issue across the Asia Pacific region, dictated by the variety of issues that occur often without anyone having any prior knowledge of the threats. To assist the likes of Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines in their desire for swifter responses to maritime security concerns, the use of UAVs are being considered for deployment.

Why? It is quite simple really. Ideal for intelligence gathering, 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.

One such UAV that has been built with the maritime industry in mind is our SKELDAR V-200. It not only includes an open interface to BMS and C4ISR systems, but also is 4865 STANAG compliant, making it easier to implement on any maritime vessel. With a double 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.

To find out more about how we can assist you with your maritime security issues, please contact us on info@umsskeldar.aero.