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Boeing, Thales Win UK Naval UAV Deal (Nov. 5)

Neuilly-sur-Seine, France --- Thales UK, Boeing and QinetiQ have signed a contract with the MoD for the Maritime Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) strand of the Joint UAV Experimentation Programme (JUEP).

The team, led by Thales UK and to be known as Team JUEP, will fly the ScanEagle UAV in a maritime role to identify the joint service operational requirements for future maritime UAVs.

The Team JUEP programme offers the MoD the earliest opportunity to explore the contribution that UAV systems can make to a future networked maritime ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) capability. This includes improvements in the detection, recognition and identification of both conventional and asymmetric threats in littoral environments, and their contribution to command decision-making, and target prosecution.

Team JUEP bid includes the ScanEagle, a commercially proven UAV modified to comply with UK safety and airworthiness regulations. ScanEagle recently completed a 16+ hour flight, believed to be the longest flight ever by a UAV launched and retrieved at sea. The small, fixed-wing ScanEagle includes a unique approach for launch and recovery to a ship at sea. Using its extended endurance it will conduct a wide range of operationally focussed maritime trials, with imagery delivered to the shipboard commanders and other networked maritime and airborne assets.

Alex Cresswell, ISTAR Systems Director, Thales UK said, “The JUEP activity is an important step in investigating the contribution UAVs can make to UK defence capability and will inform the requirements for programmes such as FRES FIST, MASC, Dabinett and FCAC. Thales UK is focussed on achieving successes in these programmes and is committed to the development of a sustainable UK UAV industry.”

Steve Krause, Boeing’s director for international unmanned systems programs, said, “The award of this contract will enable maritime ISTAR concepts to be demonstrated to the Minist,y of Defence as efflciently as possible. Boeing has teamed with the best in the industry, Thales UK and QjnetiQ, to offer the JUEP an innovative and highly persistent UAV platform, the ScanEagle, and a demonstration approach that promises to deliver meaningful milita,y capability in a matter of months.”

Peter Jenkins, Director of Aerospace at QinetiQ added: “QinetiQ is committed to supporting UK UAV systems. As a primary research and technology provider for ISTAR and UAVs to the MOD, QinetiQ is delighted to be working with Thales UK and Boeing on the JUEP Programme. JUEP will be a significant step towards realising UK UAV capability.”

Boeing will provide the modified ScanEagle air vehicle and UAV expertise from US operations.

QinetiQ brings its expertise in UK UAV trials execution, safety and airworthiness accreditation.

Thales UK will lead the team and also undertake shipboard integration, operational analysis (OA) and synthetic environments for pre-trials testing and confidence building, planning and post trials analysis.

There is a growing interest amongst maritime users for smaller UAV systems that provide complimentary persistent ISTAR capability whilst also retaining a ships capacity for a manned helicopter and its versatility in a wider range of roles. Inclusion of the Thales UK developed Sea King Mk7 Airborne Surveillance and Control helicopter in the trials will play an important role in investigating the contribution UAVs can make to maritime network enabled capability.

The Joint UAV Experimentation Programme, originally announced by Geoif Hoon in the Strategic Defence Review New Chapter, was conceived to put UAV system capabilities into the hands of joint service operators with the view of identifying improvement in operational effectiveness, across a range of different situations and environments.

Thales UK’s defence activities encompass optronics, air defence, sensors, communications and naval systems. The company is the UK’s second largest defence contractor and has been a supplier to the MoD since the First World War. Thales employs 11,000 staff in the UK and 61,500 people in 50 countries. In 2003, Thales UK’s revenues were £1 .2bn.

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Thales UK, Boeing and QinetiQ win MoD contract for the Joint Unmanned Air Vehicle Experimentation Programme