Germany is the first and only nation in the world to operate an unmanned aerial system on board its corvettes that can take off and land automatically. The “deck finder” makes this possible. The Sea Falcon has a number of other technical refinements to offer.
“It’s a dream: You can fly over sea and see heat radiation through the infrared camera and also recognize a silhouette with the electro-optical camera image and superimpose the two,” says Lieutenant Captain Jan* from the Naval Aviation Command . He has accompanied the Sea Falcon project from the very beginning and infects his entire team with his enthusiasm for the unmanned flight system.
The Sea Falcon is currently undergoing a series of test flights in the air restricted area over the WTD premisesMilitary Technical Service71 . The conditions here are ideal, as the location is also a restricted area on the ground and has a restricted area over the sea. At sea, the Sea Falcon was already able to impress with its technology. The “deck finder” allows automatic take-off and landing on deck even at wind speeds of over 45 kilometers per hour and waves up to force 3. Six antennas generate a point exactly above the grid in the middle of the deck, so that the drone with the “Land” command lands on the moving ship with pinpoint accuracy.
The Sea Falcon is a Swedish flight system that was originally designed for use over land and was extensively expanded for the German Navy. The technical and operating staff were trained in Sweden and the ground control station with which they work in northern Germany also comes from Sweden.
With the Sea Falcon, two operators and two technicians can cover up to 13 hours of flight duty. The small team offers many advantages over a helicopter crew of at least 20 people, especially when embarked on board a corvette. “There we are part of the crew, fully integrated,” reports Jan. The operator and trained helicopter pilot was part of the First Crew Sea Falcon on board the corvette “Braunschweig” in UNIFILUnited Nations Interim Force in Lebanon-Mission. Tactical operators, i.e. sensor operators, and remote pilots had their station on board in the OPZOperations Center. “There we had the complete picture of the situation and could interact directly with the crew of the corvette.”
There are currently two Sea Falcons in the Navy, both of which are still upstream test vehicles to gain initial experience. Internally they are called VorMUASPriority Marine Unmanned Aircraft System(Priority Marine Unmanned Aircraft System). The second generation Sea Falcon is called AImEGReconnaissance and identification in the maritime operational area, short for reconnaissance and identification in the maritime operational area.
In October 2022, the training of the AImEG will begin Reconnaissance and identification in the maritime operational area-Crews in Sweden. The sea trials are expected to be completed by September 2023, after which the system will be handed over to the Navy. The general usage permit is then expected.
For reasons of space, no helicopters can be embarked on corvettes. The compact air segment of the Sea Falcon with a length of 5.2 meters including the rotor, a width of 1.2 meters and a height of 1.3 meters can be perfectly integrated. The system can be used within a radius of around 100 kilometers. The PreMUAS Priority Marine Unmanned Aircraft System reach a speed of 55 knots, the AImEG Reconnaissance and identification in the maritime operational area-System will be 75 knots fast.
The images transmitted by the Sea Falcon on board the corvette can be used to identify objects and people on the water surface and also to clarify sections of the coast. The Sea Falcon thus supplements the reconnaissance capabilities of the corvette. “First tactical experiences on exercises like BALTOPS (Baltic Operations) have contributed to the appreciation of the system, growing together with the permanent crew works great and we really close gaps in capability,” reports the lieutenant captain.
The first lot AImEG Reconnaissance and identification in the maritime operational area is procured for the type 130 corvettes, i.e. “Braunschweig”, “Erfurt”, “Magdeburg”, “Oldenburg” and “Ludwigshafen am Rhein”. The AImEG is currently running reconnaissance and identification in the maritime operational area-Scaffolding of the corvette “Magdeburg”, which entered the UNIFIL in January 2024 United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon- Use should go.
In the long term it is conceivable that the Sea Falcon could also be used for the 123 frigates. For reasons of space, the Sea Lynx helicopter cannot operate on these frigates through NH NATO helicopter-90 to be replaced. Then the drone could start for aerial reconnaissance. And even with the F126 class, there are considerations to bring the drone on board for support.