In our quest to improve our abilities in the maritime protection industry, we have been conducting a lot of research about the UAV or Unmanned Aeriel Vehicle. There are many different UAV options on the market today, and many of them can fill the need. the question is, how do you choose a UAV?
For our purpose, we must be able to launch and recover the UAV from a vessel. Most UAV's are designed to be launched and recovered in ground operations. However, some of the manufacturers have developed ways to launch from a small boat or from a large merchant vessel by employing a catapult type system. so now that you can launch the UAV, how do you recover it?
Many factors can play in the recovery especially if you plan to recover the unit on a moving ship. When the unit itself costs in excess of $15,000, you certainly do not want to lose the UAV in the water. The best system we could come up with (along with manufacturer consultation) is to use a 'net capture' system.
Additional considerations for choosing the right UAV range from the endurance of the UAV, how long it can stay in the air, the distance that it can travel away from your position and maintain control, speed and elevation capability, real time video, GPS, and auto return capability. Now these are not all the considerations but a good list to begin with.
After a lot of consideration and consultations with various manufacturers, we have come up with a few conclusions that fit our purposes. First, we must be able to deploy the UAV at a minimum range of 10km with a flight time minimum of 55 minutes. Of course there must be GPS and real time video feed. For this type of UAV, we detect a target within the 10km range and can deploy the UAV to quickly identify the target to determine if it is a threat or non threat target.
Secondly, the UAV that has a flight time endurance of up to 8 hours, and a control capability of up to 20 miles. This type of UAV is a bit larger and more of a challenge to transport between transits. However, if your need is a greater distance surveillance application, this type of UAV works great.
What we found to be the most interesting fact, is that no matter which type of UAV (within our acceptable parameters)we liked, long range, short range etc., the cost of the systems were within a few thousand dollars of each other.