Drones: the new & improved allies


Extending one’s reach

New developments in drone technology means their reliability, their autonomy and their overall versatility has significantly increased over the past few years.

Today, Naval Group views naval drones as an extension to their range of naval vessels insomuch as they provide an added degree of versatility to the array of operations their sea-going vessel can offer. Where traditional surveillance means previously relied on satellite and/or long-range unmanned aircrafts to return information and data, drones are more reliable, more efficient, more responsive, more discrete and less expensive to mobilise and do not rely on optimal meteorological conditions to get the job done!

With three types of drones particularly applicable in the field of naval operations – aerial drones, surface drones and submarine drones – they represent the perfect solution for enhancing efficient remote surveillance and interaction capabilities whilst limiting both exposure and cost.

With such numerous and clear-cut advantages at stake, Naval Group has positioned itself at the forefront of naval drone technology and has gone one step further in developing a fully integrated mission system designed to coordinate aerial, surface and submarine drone missions all from one interface, the I4® Drones.

Coordinating remote operations

Naval Group has recently demonstrated the interoperability of its fully integrated I4® Drones mission system by orchestrating a large-scale simulation off the coast of Toulon in the south of France. The simulation successfully showcased the coordination of three independent types of drones, one aerial drone, one surface drone and one submarine drone, in what was a smooth and seamless operation.

The comprehensive I4® Drones mission system allows for the planning, the management and the real-time operation of the drones and their respective payloads, but also allows for their successful reinstatement.

Such successful simulations not only demonstrate Naval Group’ industrial engineering and innovation capabilities in the field of military drones, but also position Naval Group as the leading ‘systems provider’ for drone mission systems amongst foreign navies.

Teaming up across the board

I4® Drones is a naval drones mission system entirely designed and developed by Naval Group that enables an A-Z approach to drone mission management. It comprehensively covers three key stages of any mission that are ‘preparation’, ‘implementation and data processing’, and ‘return and reinstatement’, all whilst allowing for the supervision of naval drones throughout the operation and in every environment, aerial, surface and submarine. What’s more, the versatile mission system may be deployed on-board a submarine, a ship or from a maritime control center, giving navies the possibility to conduct any operation from any platform!

Ultimately, the I4® Drones mission system facilitates and enhances the efficacy and interoperability between vessels and drones in the context of inter-armed or inter-allied coalitions, thereby giving the said coalitions an undeniable edge to achieve its specific objectives.

Naval Group’ latest outfield players

Naval Group, along with its partners and subsidiaries, have developed a team of complementary aerial, surface and submarine drones capable of operating in unison in a mission environment.

The D19 is Naval Group’ first ever autonomous military submarine drone designed to enhance the operational reach and versatility of both surface vessels and submarines. Drawing on its extensive know-how in the field of torpedoes and mobile underwater targets, Naval Group designed the D19, an autonomous submarine drone capable of carrying out an array of naval missions. At a time when the vast majority of the underwater surveillance operations take place in low-depths coastline waters, submarine drones like the D19 offer a safer and more agile alternative for acquiring data in such previously inaccessible locations.

The REMORINA is a surface drone with advanced decision-making autonomy, as well as advanced obstacle-dodging capabilities, enabling it to approach and engage potentially threatening objects or vessels. Its numerous on-board sensors provide the command centre with real-time data giving it an enhanced tactical viewpoint allowing it to respond to the situation with necessary measure.

The UAV IT 180 (from our partner ECA Group, a French company specialized in robotics and unmanned naval solutions) is a versatile mini helicopter drone capable of flying in below-optimal weather conditions with a flexible battery system giving it a two hour autonomy thereby allowing it to carry out missions in a 30 nautical mile radius whilst carrying payloads of up to 5 kg. Its uses are widespread as it may be used to survey and secure the ship’s immediate surroundings, to detect floating mines or even to serve as a trans horizon radio relay for other aerial or naval drones operating within a coalition.