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based on target behaviour and environmental
conditions and it will be capable of long
deployments without human maintenance or
Several first-phase initial study contracts,
each worth US$2 million, have been issued
with recipients including Northrop Grumman
Undersea Systems and QinetiQ North
America Technology Solutions Group. In
December 2011 DARPA sought responses
to Phases 2-4 by the end of February 2012;
Phase 2 will involve integrated hardware-
in-the-loop testing, Phase 3 will fund
construction of an integrated prototype
vessel and initial sea trials, and Phase 4 will
involve mission-oriented sea trials. Phases
2-3 will cover 36 months and Phase 4 up to
18 months. The vessel will have a service
life of up to 15 years and is to be deployed
three times a year and have a range of 3,300
nautical mile (6,200 kilometres).
As human beings have a distrust of
machines operating without supervision,
DARPA plans to give the ACTUV at least
minimal supervisory command and control.
Shore bases will monitor performance
intermittently and provide outline mission
objectives through beyond line-of-sight
communications links while the vessel itself
will have the autonomous navigation and anti
collision features now regarded as essential
for USVs. The command and control system
will be based upon commercial-off-the-shelf
(COTS) and customised sensors to provide
the situational awareness it needs to respond
to target behaviour.
How viable the ACTUV concept will be
as a future surface combatant remains to be
seen but it does appear that in the next couple
of decades USVs will become a feature of
the world’s navies. In part this is driven by
the increasing cost of conventional platforms
and the difficulties of manning them making
robot solutions more cost effective as well
as creating more platforms. But the problem
with full robot vessels is the daunting
prospect of a naval equivalent of Arnold
Schwarzenneger’s Terminator with a shoot-
on-sight policy. Where the happy medium
will lie remains to be seen but admirals will
clearly be living in interesting times, to
paraphrase the Chinese curse. v
Defence technology follows available
budgets. When direct defence budgets
tend to shrink, those that are earmarked
for homeland security increase. The fact that wars
have changed, and now range from low intensity
conflicts (LIC) to anti terror operations, has
changed the attitude of many defence contractors
in Israel to this market. It can be said as a fact,
that what until a few years ago was considered
byproducts are now no less than a growth engine
for some companies.
Rafael, one of Israel’s most advanced weapon
systems developers has invested money and effort
in developing a full concept for protecting vital
installations from the sea. Israel has some of its
main economic installations along the shore of
the Mediterranean. Power plants, Refineries and
naturally ports, are along the shores that in the past
were used as entry points for terrorists.
Recently, big oil and gas fields were discovered
off the Israeli shore and these have already been the
focus of threats from Terror organizations like the
Hezbollah in Lebanon.
So , Rafael has developed a comprehensive
concept for the defence of strategic installations
using a number of measures. Electro optical
payloads, other sensors, remotely operated weapon
stations, all these and others have been adapted to
the new mission.
Moshe Elazar, Director, Naval Warfare Systems
Directorate in Rafael says that the concept is based
on sensors , data fusion and unmanned platforms
that replace humans in long shifts of duty.
The Rafael Protector Unmanned vessel has
is currently operational in Israel and some other
countries. “This is the fourth generation of the
system that has proved its capability”
Unlike in the early versions, the vessel itself is
not an “off the shelf” commercial speed boat but
a Rafael dedicated design. The 11 meters long
Protector can cope with very high seas and perform
48 hours long missions.
While the Protector is getting better, the aerial
section of homeland security is not idle.
The Elta division of Israel Aerospace Industries
(IAI), has teamed with Bombardier and are offering
a very advanced maritime patrol aircraft based on
Avishai Izhakian, deputy general manager of
Elta’s airborne systems & radars division, said that
the Q-400 is being offered as a direct replacement
to the Lockheed Martin P-3 .”This aircraft has very
low operational costs and gives the crew a very
comfortable working environment”
The Q-400 in maritime patrol/ SAR/ anti
submarine roles configuration, is being offered
by Elta/Bombardier, in cooperation with Field
Aviation from Canada.
The main sensor is the best selling Elta EL/M-
2022 multi-mode airborne maritime surveillance
radar. The package includes Sigint and optical
Elta and its partners, use the experience gathered
from the operation of the Q-300 in maritime patrol
role . This aircraft used by Sweden and Iceland is
also equipped with the EL/M-2022 radar.
According to Izhakian , the Q-400 maritime
patrol aircraft has a “very big “ market potential as
countries are more aware of the need to monitor the
seas for many types of threats including pirates.
IAI Heron unmanned air systems are used for
close range maritime missions.
But in the big array of platforms and sensors
there is a new comer that makes its first steps in this
Recently Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)
has unveiled the Electric Tethered Observation
Platform (ETOP) as a direct substitute for tactical
observation aerostats , deployed along borders and
near sensitive installations.
IAI is in the final phase of developing the ETOP
which will become a “family” of very advanced
systems in different sizes.
ETOP is a electrically-powered, tethered,
airborne platform which can be used for
observation, surveillance and other applications.
It can either be deployed from a static station,
a maritime platform or from a moving ground
vehicle. It can carry a payload of up to 20kg and
operate up to a maximum altitude of 100 meters.
“We see a meaningful potential market for these
systems mainly in countries that are operating
aerostats, but not only” an IAI source said.
And when the earmarked homeland defence
budgets grow, it is only natural that new solutions
are being offered. Here again, IAI reacted quickly
and is offering a modified version of its G-550
conformal airborne early warning (CAEW) aircraft
that has the capability to detect targets at sea and
near shores. IAI explains that the new version will
have all the basic AEW capabilities with added
ones to detect targets at sea. v
UNMANNED SURFACE VESSLES
ARIE EGOZI / Tel Aviv
DRA March 2012.indd 25
8/03/12 4:45 PM
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