Schiebel, Airbus Helicopters Achieve Historic Manned-Unmanned Teaming
VIENNA — In a groundbreaking demonstration on April 17, Schiebel’s CAMCOPTER S-100 unmanned air system (UAS) and Airbus Helicopters’ manned H145 successfully completed a series of manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) flights, Schiebel said in an April 24 release.
Level 5 interoperability was achieved by providing the user onboard the manned aircraft with full command and control over the UAS and its payload, including launch and recovery. The purpose of this pioneering demonstration, which took place as part of a technology partnership between the Austrian Armaments and Defense Technology Agency (ARWT) and Schiebel, was to explore the benefits and challenges of delivering MUM-T flight operations, especially those with highly valuable, mission-enhancing advantages for army aviation.
As a true force-multiplier, MUM-T leverages the strengths of both manned and unmanned systems by providing pilots of manned aircraft with the ability to take full advantage of the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities of the UAS, significantly improving safety and decision-making in complex, contested missions.
“This is a perfect example of Schiebel’s commitment to staying at the cutting-edge of developments and capabilities,” said Hans Georg Schiebel, chairman of the Schiebel Group. “The CAMCOPTER S-100 offers unsurpassed ISR capabilities and, as such, significantly enhances manned aircraft sensors, which is particularly valuable in complex operations and dangerous environments.”
UASs are perfectly suited for providing an aerial overview, operating above manned assets whilst the manned assets benefit from using local terrain. This approach of enhancing coverage and timeliness of information while keeping pilots and manned assets safe enables commanders to maximize the advantages offered by both platforms.
“Manned-unmanned teaming multiplies the capabilities of both systems”, said Mark R. Henning, program manager at Airbus Helicopters. “Smaller UASs with vertical-takeoff-and-landing capabilities can, for example, fly around obstacles as trees or buildings closer than a helicopter could. They are able to explore unknown territory and deliver information to the helicopter crew which is operating from a safe position and then step in with the helicopter’s superior effects having received a clear picture from the UAS.”
“Another key advantage of such an approach is improved datalink security,” said Schiebel’s chief technical officer, Chris Day. “The datalink between the manned and unmanned platform can be moved from a static to a dynamic environment, away from the ground, making it more robust and harder to detect.”