Reconnaissance support from the air

Agile UAV in Network Centric Environment (Agile UAV in NCE)

© Fraunhofer FKIE
Drones offer valuable reconnaissance support from the air.

In urban environments in particular, protecting convoys is a difficult task. There are too many buildings and obstacles that offer potential attackers opportunities for concealment.  The  Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw L1.1) has awarded Airbus Defence and Space in Manching, Germany and the Fraunhofer FKIE a project entitled »Agile UAV in Network Centric Environment (Agile UAV in NCE)«.

The task of the Fraunhofer FKIE was to create a reconnaissance system that contributes to the provision of a continuous overall situational picture for the Forward Air Controller (FAC) accompanying the convoy to enable detection, tracking and identification of potential threats.

© Fraunhofer FKIE
Using sensor data fusion, the information transmitted by the reconnaissance drones is combined in real time to form a situation picture and made available on mobile devices.

In the project, a UAV system was equipped for signal and imagery reconnaissance. The drone selected for this purpose came from DLR Braunschweig, a project subcontractor, and is designed to transport payloads of up to 30 kg – in this case the necessary sensors and data links.

To best meet the mission requirements, an emitter location system was used for the detection and location of cell phones, and a swiveling multispectral camera system for threat detection and tracking. This enables the UAV to provide real-time information that contributes to the overall situational picture within the networked environment. The situational picture is displayed on a tablet and thus made available to the FAC as a mobile solution.

As part of the final measurement campaign in Vidsel, Sweden, operation of the reconnaissance system with its sensor functions was successfully demonstrated within the networked environment. Fraunhofer FKIE has continuously improved the various heterogeneous sensor systems by developing novel methods of signal processing and sensor data fusion and validated them metrologically by setting up experimental systems. Competencies were built up and expanded with regard to operating a single system in a system network as a »System of Systems«.

  • Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing and Ergonomics FKIE
  • Airbus Defence and Space (Manching)
  • Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) L1.1
  • German Aerospace Center (DLR) Braunschweig