Building on the success of eighteen months support provided to the Royal Netherlands Army in Afghanistan QinetiQ continues to deliver fully contractorised UAS operations in that country, pointing the way to a more widespread use of such services in front-line operations.
"The responsiveness offered by fully contractorised UAS operations within the context of rapidly changing military requirements allows, for example, the rapid delivery of in-theatre ISR capability when and where it is most needed, thereby minimising or removing capability gaps, and saving lives on the ground," says John Jost, a Systems Engineer with QinetiQ.
Mr Jost, who is speaking on the subject of Contractorised UAS Operations - Delivering ISR Differently at the Unmanned Theatre during the DSEi trade exhibition on Thursday September 15, believes that the competent delivery of UAS services by companies such as QinetiQ could potentially provide UAS based ISR capability to a range of other customers.
"What was achieved by QinetiQ with the Royal Netherlands Army in Afghanistan offers a useful insight into how this might be achieved within the UAS arena for other military, paramilitary and humanitarian organisations."
Team Aerostar, a partnership between Aeronautics Ltd. and QinetiQ successfully delivered a turnkey, fully contractorised UAS operation for the Royal Netherlands Army in Afghanistan. With several thousand missions hours flown over an 18 month period, providing a mix of electro-optic/infra-red and communications intelligence payloads.
"Team Aerostar provided a fully contractorised UAS operation, with QinetiQ providing highly skilled and competent manpower including all system operators and maintenance personnel, as well all pre-deployment preparation, in-theatre equipment set-up and delivery of flying operations. This suite of services allowed for the rapid deployment of in-theatre ISR capability," says Mr Jost.
This fully contractorised UAS service approach is in marked contrast with typical contractorised UAS support which is usually limited to the provision of equipment, field service representation, external pilot provision and partial logistics management, which offers limited flexibility and agility as the military must still train and deploy significant numbers of personnel.
In parallel to the current in-theatre delivery Mr Jost believes that fully contractorised UAS operations could be a key component of the UK MODs Whole Force Concept. This is an initiative that the UK MOD is currently considering, looking at which elements of military capability can be effectively delivered by contractors. The inclusion of contractor delivered UAS capability within future force structures allows would rapid contractor deployment to complement regular forces in addressing emerging situations or to support enduring campaigns thereby reducing the burden on the front-line.
Employment of contractor delivered UAS capability alongside regular forces is achievable within most force structures using the QinetiQ contractorised operational model. It is ideally suited to customers who need to introduce UAS or complement their existing UAS based ISR capabilities, but require rapid delivery of a proven contractor delivered solution.
"QinetiQ's successful experience with Aeronautics and the Royal Netherlands Army in Afghanistan was one of an experienced contractor team working with clear boundaries and proper support, working as one with the military clients to deliver effective operational results," says Mr Jost.
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