Thales studies integrating military systems with civilian airspace

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New Delhi, June 16 : In a step that could have applications in India, aerospace major Thales has completed a year-long technical study on integrating unmanned aerial systems (UAS) with Europe’s civilian airspace.

Kicking off in early 2009, SIGAT was a study on allocating military frequency spectrum for the integration of UAS with general air traffic.

India is currently engaged in the integration of its military and civilian radars to ensure the flexible and optimum use of airspace.

The Indian Air Force (IAF), in fact, had also conducted the Dakshin Prahar exercise over the southern peninsula last year to validate the integration concepts.

Central to the integration is a network of seven satellites, collectively named GAGAN or GPS-Aided Geo-Augmented Navigation System, that is currently being put together to create an Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System.

“We have just heard about the Thales study and though it primarily relates to unmanned aerial systems, it could also have applications for manned aircraft. To that extent, it could have lessons for us,” a senior defence official told IANS, speaking on condition of anonymity.

SIGAT identified four possible options, including frequency spectrum needs with associated levels of difficulty, performance and time frame.

“Each of these four paths would enable military UAS to integrate with civil air space while providing appropriate safety to other air traffic,” a Thales statement said.

“This finding represents a major outcome for European defence ministries as it widens the number of potential solutions and provides the relevant regulatory and technical elements to enable a balanced choice to be made between optimal cost, result and time frame solutions for military UAS integration,” the statement said.

“One of the major issues at the heart of UAS development today is the integration of these vehicles into civil airspace. We need to ensure proper segregation of existing air traffic and maintain a high level of safety for all airspace users to the standards of international civil aviation, said Pierre-Eric Pommellet, Thales senior vice president in charge of defence mission systems.

Thales successfully led a consortium of 23 European companies representing nine countries to carry out the SIGAT study for the European Defence Agency.

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