A veritable tactical advantage, drones represent an extension of the warship, and are an essential component for the success of a naval force’s missions. Whether airborne, underwater or water-borne, naval drones allow the fleet’s operational capacities to be increased: they extend the potential for surveillance and intervention.
I4® Drone is the mission system for naval drones designed and developed by DCNS for an end to end management of drone missions, covering three key phases: mission readiness, data deployment and treatment, mission retrieval and restitution. I4® Drone enables the monitoring of naval drones operations across every environment: in the air, on the surface and under water. Onboard a surface ship or a submarine, this system can also be deployed over a land based commandment centre. Thanks to I4® Drone, drone mission management is made easier amongst combined and inter-ally forces gaining in efficiency and increasing ship and drone interoperability.
Capitalising on its experience of autonomous underwater vehicles, DCNS is developing a new line of drone products based on a torpedo format. The D-19 family of drones has been designed on the basis of a modular vehicle architecture allowing the performance of mission profiles suited to the payloads carried.
In parallel, DCNS is developing innovative solutions to allow deployment and recovery (homing and docking) of an underwater drone in complete safety. In particular, DCNS has designed an autonomous homing/docking station allowing induction-based drone recharging, data upload via secure underwater Wi-Fi, an acoustic data link for drone guidance and a system allowing the re-deployment of the drone in complete safety. Sea trials of this station started in October 2016.
DCNS is developing HEUDYP, a support system for drone pilots dedicated to the take-off/landing phases, and designed by DCNS in partnership with CLARTE. DCNS proposes an innovative system, based on feedback from the French Navy, intended to provide the pilot with aerology and deck-movement information (roll/pitch), in addition to his field of view, to assist in taking the right decisions to deploy and recover the drone in complete safety. Augmented-reality information is displayed on a helmet visor via an easy-to-use man-machine interface. Furthermore, the helmet is equipped with a communication system that allows the pilot to talk with the crew in real time.
For DCNS, drones are organic systems within the combat vessel, at the disposal of the vessel’s commanding officer. Remote sensors for the combat system, their missions are managed via the combat-management system of each vessel for greater real-time effectiveness in support of naval actions. DCNS is developing systems for the deployment and integration of drones so that they can carry out missions over even greater distances and longer periods to the advantage of the vessel. These actions take place in an interoperable environment with increased system digitalisation, for which the notion of drone networks requires the implementation of cyber-security solutions, for the improved protection of data and communication lines between drones and vessels.
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