The CAMCOPTER® S-100 is the only tactical VTOL UAS in its class with extensive operational experience. It is in use with a number of Navies and Armies on five continents on land and at sea, as well as with international agencies, including the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). The S-100 was deployed for Coastguards and other governmental institutions for ISR requirements on behalf of EMSA in various countries including Croatia, Finland, Denmark, France, Romania, Estonia, Sweden and Spain. In 2022, the S-100 was further operated for maritime surveillance in Skagen (Denmark), Mangalia (Romania), as well as on the Icelandic patrol vessels ICGV Thor and ICGV Freyja. The UAS was responsible for fisheries inspection, ship, port and environmental protection, as well as supporting Search and Rescue (SAR) operations.
The main differentiator compared to its competitors, is that it is a mature and proven capability – being deployed by several maritime customers all over the world, the S-100 has tens of thousands of embarked maritime flight hours under its belt, with several thousand deck landings in demanding environmental conditions.
S-100 can be Easily Manoeuvred
The S-100 can be operated with either aviation gasoline or kerosene, making it ideally suited for the maritime environment. Its small footprint and the absence of launch or recovery equipment lets the S-100 be easily manoeuvred, stowed and maintained in confined spaces or in ships’ hangars. Extensive use of carbon fibre composite materials, titanium, stainless steel and special coatings protects the system against corrosion. Operation is possible from any ship with a small helicopter landing deck or suitable clear space, even in challenging weather.
The S-100 can also successfully operate in environments where GPS is not available (or denied), with missions planned and controlled using a simple point-and-click user interface. Its carbon fibre and titanium fuselage provide capacity for a wide range of payload/endurance combinations up to a service ceiling of 5,500 m / 12,000 ft. The high-tech unmanned helicopter is supported by Schiebel’s excellent customer and training services.
The Indian Navy has been on the lookout for tactical UAS for quite some time and has been monitoring the options available in the global market from catapult launch and hybrid VTOL to pure rotary VTOL solutions. The Navy has firmed up its requirements and has shared the same with potential bidders for procurement programmes like NSUAS (Naval Shipborne Unmanned Aerial Systems). The Make in India mandate will further ensure the setting up of required infrastructure by Indian companies to meet the tactical UAV requirements for the Navy and other defence forces.
India has more than 7000 km of coastline dotted with various oil and gas platforms and other seaborne assets. Globally both the military and civil domain has accepted and is using unmanned systems extensively for ISR by various Coastguards and Logistics/SAR by the oil and gas industry. Schiebel is looking at upstream tactical logistics for the oil and gas industry along with mid-stream pipeline monitoring. We are in discussion with various organisations towards these requirements and expect that it will result in more footprints in the Indian market.
Suitable in High-altitude Terrains
India in addition has some difficult high-altitude terrains, which is specific and inherent to the Indian sub-continent and not seen anywhere else. The S-100 with its heavy fuel engine is a very suitable and robust logistic solution for the last-mile connectivity of the Indian Army. The permutation and combination of the various payloads available for the S-100 can be a game changer for the Indian Army due to its capability of sustained ISR in terms of endurance and tactical airlift for meeting urgent and immediate logistic requirements.
The most important factor, when operating UAS is that no human life is in danger, compared to flying with a manned helicopter, which is only one reason why the interest keeps growing.
The S-100 offers a wide range of capabilities to its customers. The flexible set-up of multiple payloads with a combined weight of up to 50 kg enables the S-100 to perform multiple missions. Capabilities on land and at sea include maritime surveillance, search and rescue, emission monitoring, accident and disaster assistance, border security, environmental change detection, convoy protection, frontline resupply, drug trafficking, anti-smuggling, anti-piracy and many more.
Schiebel has set up an office in India and partnered with VEM Technologies for the local production of the CAMCOPTER® S-100. This partnership will manufacture the CAMCOPTER® S-100 along with its payload under the Buy (India) category with up to 60% indigenisation content. The endeavour would be to create the necessary skills for integration and testing in India such that a robust eco-system is created which can sustain the platform for 15 years and above based on the technology obsolescence.
Next Model: S-300
India has a very unique mountainous terrain, which needs specialised solutions. The S-100 provides a very suitable and apt answer to the vagaries of nature in the Himalayan region. This includes handling heavy cross-winds in high altitudes and operations in subs-zero conditions when most of the standard battery-operated solutions fail. The S-100 has been actively operating in the Arctic Circle and hence is well capable of handling extreme cold situations. The Indian Army has also started looking into engine-based solutions for tactical UAS and this is the space where S-100 excels. The CAMCOPTER® S-100 has been successfully utilised and operated in mountainous regions around the world and is easily capable of handling flight operations at 8000 ft. In order to meet the additional heights at Leh & Ladakh our next model namely S-300 presently under design & testing will be available.
Given the S-100 is a mature platform with a running serial production and a wide customer base, Schiebel invests a large part of its Research and Development budget into the extension of its already very large portfolio of payloads. Most recently, at the annual NATO exercises “REPMUS 2022” and “Dynamic Messenger 2022” in Portugal, the CAMCOPTER® S-100 demonstrated three of its capabilities namely:-
- Anti-Submarine Warfare
- ISR & SAR
- Logistic delivery (Medical)
The world premiere was the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) suite: the S-100 was equipped with the Thales BlueScan sonar data processing system in the main payload bay and with a Wescam MX-8 EO/IR sensor (the same as on PGZ-19R Orlik fixed-wing UAV) in the secondary one. The demonstrated scenario was the surveillance and protection of approaches to a strategic port. With a barrier of sonobuoys already laid, the S-100 was deployed to monitor data from the sonobuoys and relayed it to a command post ashore, permitting the detection and classification of possible enemy submarines.
After a quick reconfiguration to the typical ISR suite with Overwatch Imaging PT-8 Oceanwatch and Wescam MX-10 camera-based sensors, the S-100 also demonstrated the ability to automatically detect and identify small objects on shore and at sea in various sea states, as part of ISR and SAR missions or supporting amphibious operations.
The CAMCOPTER® S-100 thereafter also delivered medical supplies from the port to a ship nearby, using its underslung cargo delivery net.
At REPMUS 2023, already in preparation, Schiebel intends to present another set of innovative configurations, further developing the platform’s multi-mission capabilities.
In terms of anti-jamming, the experience with the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine between 2014 and 2022, led Schiebel to implement techniques and procedures in order to keep the systems operational in spite of powerful jammers used by the Russian Army. The monitoring missions provided many opportunities for the anti-jamming system to be utilised, tuned, upgraded and modified in the process of creating a very robust and strong system capable of handling anti-jamming situations.
Just recently the S-100 was operated by the Royal Thai Navy extensively as the “eye in the sky” for supporting the Search and Rescue (SAR) efforts after the capsizing of the HTMS Sukhothai in the Gulf of Thailand. Another client which uses the S-100 successfully for search and rescue is the UK Coastguard, where it compliments manned helicopters, providing not only a reliable “eye in the sky” but also making popular the Manned Unmanned Teaming concept.
Equipped with a wide-area search camera or a radar, the S-100 as a mission-proven asset increases the versatility and effectiveness of its search capability. These accurate automated functions can significantly reduce search times, while the radar guarantees all-weather surveillance. Once the S-100 has detected and identified the target, such as a lifeboat or man overboard, it can dispatch life vests or other life-saving equipment. Simultaneously, the S-100 passes the coordinates onto the manned helicopter, which then initiates rescue. SAR perfectly demonstrates the interoperability between manned and unmanned assets.
Presentation at Euronaval in Paris
The CAMCOPTER® S-300 UAS – the bigger brother of the S-100 – was publicly presented for the first time at Euronaval in Paris, in October 2022. The S-200 is 4.8 metres long, 1.9 metres high and 0.9 metre wide. It can fly at a maximum speed of 220 km/h (cruising speed 100 km/h). The S-300 is able to carry up to 340 kg (fuel including) and its maximum take-off weight can reach 660 kg. It can fly up to 24 hours with a 50 kg payload (or 4 hours with 250 kg).
The ground component, including the control system for the S-300, will be the same as for the S-100 version. This in turn means, that by using a single control system, it will be possible to select the S-100 or S-300 platform according to the needs and tasks to be carried out. Ships or other platforms adapted for operation with the S-100 will be ready for immediate interoperability with the S-300 version, without any additional work on the communication and control systems.
–The writer is Chief Executive Officer – Schiebel India