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WARRIOR MATURES UAV SEAPLANE FOR SHIP USE

Jul 07. Warrior (Aero-Marine) Limited announces steady progress and strong teaming in working towards maritime unmanned system solutions.

Using its experience in designing offshore racing multihulls and a six-seat manned seaplane using new-concept hull forms developed by Warrior, the company has successfully trialled the GULL UXV platform in a wide range of sea and wind conditions. There have been no incidents and it has proven docile and outstandingly seaworthy.

This and Warrior’s ongoing trialling of surface launch & recovery systems bring the objective of a practical UAV system suited for integration to ship, within close arms reach.

Objectives

The GULL UXV opens the opportunity to an array of new concepts of operations and maritime objectives not considered before. James Labouchere, Managing Director of Warrior (Aero-Marine) Limited states:

“As a result of attaching robust vessel capability to aircraft speed and range, Warrior is generating a list of new ways to add value to unmanned systems. GULL extends the reach of maritime payloads. It will bring payloads to bear quicker, closer and more persistently. It will enable new and more effective Concepts of Operations (CONOPS) in using multiple payload modules and switching between air and water and relocating at high speed.”

The effect is to directly remove many published and still challenging automation and integration issues. This includes interfacing with ship, which the GULL can achieve without imposing on the airspace around ship by leaving and approaching a ship at speed, while on the surface. This enables simultaneous operation of UAVs and other aerial systems (i.e. aircraft, helicopters and munitions).

On station, being able to switch between surface and airborne roles in only a few seconds and to relocate on the surface using aircraft speeds (typically four or five times the speed of equivalent vessels), it can achieve and communicate directly what otherwise requires at least two systems, networked communications and challenging processing.

Teaming and method

Warrior has reversed the usual approach to unmanned system development and focussed on making the basic GULL platform as capable as conceivably possible, in terms of seaworthiness, performance and ease of use in the widest range of environments. The success has done much to remove the reliance on complex systems, though sensors and increasing intelligence will make the system increasingly robust and capable in severe conditions.

Thanks to a series of follow-on contracts from the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Technology Council (DTC), Warrior has worked with Roke Manor Research with regard to sensing technologies to aid automated management on the surface in rough sea, and with Blue Bear Systems Research in developing the ‘SNAP’ Surveillance and Navigation Autopilot) and specialist robotics for the GULL.

The GULL 36

Warrior is focussed on the GULL 36, the first of what is expected to be a series of seaplane UAVs for contrasting payload modules and range objectives. These payloads will extend from airborne and surface operated EO/IR (see Definitions) to dipping and towed sonar, to releasable and recoverable payloads. ISTAR (see Definitions) objectives are priority though applications extend across defence, coastguard and civil maritime asset management.

The robust seaplane capability is expected to give the GULL 36 exceptional advantage in effect on station and operability with a minimum of training and supporting equipment.

Warrior (Aero-Marine) Limited was incorporated in 1996 and is based in Salisbury, UK and Sanford, Maine USA. It combines aircraft and high performance marine craft design and development skills. The company has developed a series of new seaplane technologies including new hull forms. Development projects include a six-seat amphibious seaplane, uninhabited aircraft and launch/recovery systems for ship use.

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