EADS Defence & Security will investigate the use of a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV to prove the operational feasibility of this integration
(Brussels, February 9, 2010) -- The European Defence Agency (EDA) has selected an Astrium and EADS Defence & Security (DS) consortium to lead a six-month study to demonstrate that by using satellite communications it is feasible to integrate UAVs into civil airspace. DS has more than 30 years of expertise in UAVs, and Astrium, Europe's largest space company, will determine how and what satellite-based services are needed to operate the UAVs safely in civil airspace.
"All teams involved are proud to be selected by the European Defence Agency in competition against top companies in this sector. This shows that our ability to develop synergies between civil, security and military applications is increasingly recognised. For Astrium Services this is an opportunity to develop our activities in the expanding UAV market", said Eric Beranger, CEO Astrium Services, during the contract signature.
Today UAVs are only operating in segregated airspace for military operations. Integrating UAVs safely into civil airspace would enable them to be used to assist in a variety of civil and para-civil applications. These include maritime patrol, border surveillance, agricultural monitoring, weather/atmospheric data collection, and high-altitude geological and infrastructure mapping.
"EADS Defence and Security, the leading manufacturer of UAVs in Europe, is proud to bring its expertise to this very important study under the leadership of the European Defence Agency. The outcome of this study will further reinforce our capability to propose leading-edge and secured solutions to our customers" said Bernhard Gerwert, CEO Military Air Systems, an integrated Business Unit of EADS Defence & Security.
As part of the six-month feasibility study, the consortium will meet key European civil and military stakeholders. The purpose of these meetings will be to receive their endorsements on safety and regulatory policy, and on future applications. On completion of the study, EDA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are expected to jointly fund a demonstration programme.
In preparation of this demonstration, DS will investigate the possibility to fly a MALE UAV that will be controlled via a satellite communication link provided by Astrium Services. The two companies already collaborate in Afghanistan, where a Harfang UAV, developed by EADS Defence and Security, is being operated by the French air force.
"Enabling the integration of UAVs into civil airspace fits within the implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) of the European Union. The Astrium and DS teams are combining their expertise for EDA and ESA, to help define with the European authorities what legislation will be required to assist in the development of UAV based innovative applications", continued Eric Beranger, CEO Astrium Services.