June 30, 2015 - 10:10 ( Brasília )

Technology

Nano UAVs to transform battlefield situational awareness for armoured vehicle operations?

Investment in battlefield situational awareness capabilities is a priority for military commanders with ever more advanced and accurate surveillance technologies being brought to market.

One of the most effective could be the use of mini unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that integrate into the command system of an armoured vehicle and relay data back to on-board operators when launched for scouting missions.

Armoured vehicles are increasingly becoming less like the fighting vehicles of old and more like mobile intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance assets.

The onset of unmanned technologies over the last decade has transformed the air domain for militaries and now the technology is contributing to the capability revolution on the ground.

Kongsberg Gallium, a situational awareness and geospatial visualisation software company and systems integrator, recently released a new version of its vehicle Integrated Command System (ICS) platform, which is one of these drone technologies that allows armoured vehicle commanders to scout surrounding battlefield terrain with lightweight UAVs.

ICS is a software system used by NATO that links all of the sensors and systems in armoured fighting vehicles using the open Data Distribution Service (DDS) standard.

In addition to bolstering situational awareness, the ICS platform provides vehicle commanders with critical intelligence on incoming or immediate threats, details about the condition of the vehicle, and provides a way to control and interact with all of the sensors and systems on the vehicle.

Kongsberg announced it had updated the ICS to integrate with the ProxDynamics PD-100 Black Hornet, a nano UAV that employs tiny flying drones which can be carried in the pocket of a soldier’s fatigues, and quickly and easily deployed through a hatch. Video and positional data from the drones are transmitted directly to the ICS display in the vehicle.

Underscoring the rapidly evolving development in this field – as well as the potentially battlefield winning capabilities offered by these nano UAVs – the system could be deployed in NATO fighting vehicles as soon as 2016.