EDR N°54 - November / December 2020

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N° 54 • November/ December 2020

MAGAZINE European Defence Review Adm. (ret.) Matteo Bisceglia, OCCAR’s Director, talks on naval programmes Higher-end and medium-size frigate programmes in Europe

New tools for the infantryman Air Support for National Security

Naval Group - photo credit: ©Naval Group - Design : Seenk


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I S S U E N°



Publisher: Joseph Roukoz Editor-in-chief: Paolo Valpolini Aviation & Space Editor: David Oliver Naval Editor: Luca Peruzzi European Defence Review (EDR) is published by European Defence Publishing SAS www.edrmagazine.eu


Based on French Navy and export requirements Naval Group developed the new Frégate de Défense et d’Intervention (FDI) or Belh@rra multirole intermediate-size frigate which first-of-class is planned to be delivered in 2023. © Naval Group

Adm. (ret.) Matteo Bisceglia, OCCAR’s Director, talks on naval programmes By Luca Peruzzi


Higher-end and medium-size frigate programmes in Europe


New tools for the infantryman


Air Support for National Security

By Luca Peruzzi

By Paolo Valpolini

By David Oliver

EDR | November/October 2020


Adm. (ret.) Matteo Bisceglia, OCCAR’s Director, talks on Naval programmes By Luca Peruzzi

Admiral (ret.) Matteo Bisceglia OCCAR’s Director. ©OCCAR

In EDR Magazine’s previous issue, which was aimed at Farnborough, we published the excerpt of the interview done by Luca Peruzzi to Admiral (ret.) Matteo Biceglia, the Director of the Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’Armement / Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation (OCCAR). This issue being mainly aimed at Euronaval, we run the Naval part of the interview, which was updated till the closure date. To read the overall interview on the EDR OnLine website refer to the following address (https://www. edrmagazine.eu/occar-at-the-core-of-european-defencecooperation-interview-with-adm-ret-matteo-bisceglia). This shortened version deals only with Naval programmes managed by OCCAR.

The Italian version of the joint French-Italian FREMM frigate project, here depicted in the ASW platform variant, has been selected as the platform design for the US Navy’s FFG(X) programme. © Giorgio Arra


n his opening remarks Adm. Bisceglia underlined some of the key aspects of his organisation, starting from the fact that returns on investments by the single countries must not be sought yearly on the single programme but rather on a multi-programme/ multi-year balance, thus avoiding duplications

of efforts and inefficiencies that endanger the competitiveness of the European Defence industry. To expand the scope of the OCCAR to smaller programmes, he unveiled the proposal he made to his Board of Supervisors aimed at creating a Small Programmes Division, that will allow avoiding commercial and financial positions EDR | November/October 2020


The European Patrol Corvette (EPC) is one of the programmes coordinated by Italy together with France and entrusted by Spain and Greece, under the PESCO umbrella. Š PESCO

duplication, one element being sufficient to run more than one programme considering their limited dimensions. He also underlined the optimal and fruitful relationship with other entities, such as the European Defence Agency (EDA) and the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), as well as with the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA). He also underlined the low overhead cost of OCCAR over the programmes it manages, the total operations budget being around 1.3 per cent of the overall value of the managed programmes. Hoping that the COVID pandemia will have a lesser impact on defence budgets than the 2008 financial crisis, and stating that the Brexit issue, the UK was one of the OCCAR funding nations, should not have an impact on the organisation, save some issues with custom duties, he definitely mentioned the need of an harmonisation of export regulations among European countries to favour export, the only way to achieve economy of scale and keep alive European Defence industry production facilities.


EDR | November/October 2020

As for the Naval programmes, here is the excerpt of the interview: In the naval domain, PESCO is working on the European Patrol Corvette (EPC) launched by France and Italy, and more recently entrusted by Spain and Greece, while the Italian MoD is discussing with the industry to finalize a contract for a four-submarine procurement programme. Are you expecting to see these programmes to be managed by OCCAR? The European Patrol Corvette is indeed a clear candidate and I would certainly be happy if the nations decide to entrust it to OCCAR when the time comes, but this is a sovereign decision. Greece is not a Member State of OCCAR, therefore its integration would require the signature of the so called Letter of Acceptance, by which they agree to have the programme managed according to OCCAR rules and regulations, and a security arrangement. The former can take up to one year, since it requires the Governmental approval, which might also mean Parliament approval. The latter is necessary in order to exchange classified information. These requirements are not

problematic, only time consuming, so they have to be taken into account if there is a real interest in entrusting the programme to OCCAR, in order to start well in advance to avoid time constraints. As for the Italian Near Future Submarine (NFS) programme, indeed the MoD has consulted with OCCAR the steps necessary for its integration, but there is no formal decision yet, although I am confident that OCCAR will be entrusted this programme. The Board of Supervisors has authorized myself to conduct preliminary activities in preparation for the potential integration of this programme, and I look forward taking it on board soon, hopefully before year-end. The FREMM production and delivery programme will end in the near future, while the Common In-Service Support activities will continue not only for this programme but also for the Horizon frigates. Can you elaborate on future planned and foreseeing activities about the FREMM programme? At which point is the preparation work for the Horizon MLU contract and which are the main agreed elements of the programme? Following OCCAR’s Through-Life Management (TLM) approach, the FREMM programme includes an Integrated Logistic Support phase and an initial In-Service Support (ISS) phase (starting with Frigates delivery) for both French and Italian ship. This includes engineering support, configuration and obsolescence management, technical service, training, supply chain support management, electronic systems maintenance

The first sea going of the French FOC Alsace FREDA AAW variant of the FREMM frigate is planned for October 2020, with delivery in 2021. © Marine Nationale

and documentation. A further five-year ISS contract was signed in June 2019 to ensure maintenance and supplies for Italian frigates. On 4 May 2017, an agreement between the Italian and the French Naval Armament Directions and Navies Logistic Support Directions was signed with the purpose of creating a Common ISS structure for FREMM and Horizon frigates, and further developments are being planned thanks to two dedicated Working Groups. Looking to the FREMM production, qualification and contractual acceptance programme, the first sea going of the French First of Class (FOC) Frégate de Défense Antiaérienne (FREDA) Alsace is planned for October 2020 for a delivery in 2021, while further studies are on-going on French FREDA frigates and FOS Lorraine production. The Final Official Acceptance Review (FOAR) of the 9th Italian FOS GP Schergat ship was planned on the 19th of March and everything was already organized in order to deliver the ship to the Italian Navy but was postponed due to the Italian lockdown related to the COVID emergency, with the stopping of all industrial activities. Just before the postponed FOAR deadline, late June, the Italian Representatives requested OCCAR to stop Schergat’s acceptance process, a potential export of two Italian FREMM frigates being under evaluation. Of course, this is an Italian sovereign decision, OCCAR will provide the maximum support to the Italian Participating State, specifically in amending the current FREMM contract as decisions are made. A major modification to the contract is expected, with the construction of two additional Italian FREMMs,

The French-Italian four Horizon type destroyers sailing together. OCCAR awarded to 50/50 Naviris JV between Fincantieri and Naval Group the feasibility study for the Mid-Life Update (MLU) of both service’s platforms. © Italian Navy

EDR | November/October 2020


to maintain the number of 10 frigates for the Italian Navy according to original operational requirements. The Horizon MLU study contract was signed late last July and is aimed to provide within the end of next year a feasibility study on possible enhancements of their operational capabilities, based on their obsolescence outcomes and taking into account the FREMM design to update their configuration. As Naviris in the future will be the industrial interface of Italy and France in the naval domain, we expect that the feasibility study assigned by nations to OCCAR will be the starting point to assign to OCCAR also Horizon MLU activities. If Nations would decide it, we could be ready to “transform” the FREMM PD into a “Naval PD” that could manage many cooperative naval programmes (Horizon, FREMM, LSS, and so on). I would like to point out that a vessel needs modernisation when its weapon systems become obsolete. Obviously, the integration of new weapon systems affects the platform, so a study is required to decide which changes are possible and which are the associated costs. For the Horizon modernisation, Naviris, as shipbuilder, will be the prime contractor for the platform

modernisation, while Fincantieri, Naval Group, Thales, Leonardo, Eurosam, MBDA and SIGEN will be subcontractors for both French and Italian vessels. OCCAR has recently awarded a new contract for Naval Research and Technology projects to Naviris, the JV between Fincantieri and Naval Group. Can you elaborate on these five projects and their importance for the future cooperation between the two countries and industries? Recently a new Italian and French cooperation in the Naval Defence Industry has been launched in order to build up a European excellence in the shipbuilding and navies. Following the establishment of the equal 50/50 Naviris JV, Italian and French Naval Defence Administrations have addressed the intention to pitch research activities in the naval domain in order to increase their bound cooperation in this context. Within this framework, the OCCAR FREMM PD has been engaged to award two new contracts to Naviris in order to develop: - five Research & Technology Projects, lasting up to 3.5 years, which were awarded on 4 June; - feasibility studies concerning the Mid-Life Upgrade of Horizon Class Combat Ships, which first iteration was awarded last July. The study

The Frégate de Défense Aérienne (FDA) Forbin maneuvering behind the Charles de Gaulle nuclear aircraft carrier. © Corentin Charles/Marine Nationale/ Défense


EDR | November/October 2020

Both Italian Navy’s Doria class destroyers were updated with Super Rapido guns in the Strales configuration. The Caio Duilio destroyer will be the first to receive the LRR antenna’s major overhaul. © Giorgio Arra

aims to keep a high level of commonality in the vessels’ configuration in order to exploit the benefits of the cooperation, identifying those systems (Platforms and Combat System) which may be upgraded or replaced to possibly increase the vessels capabilities and performances. It will be focused on the upgrade of the AAW domain against threat scenarios identified by both Nations, in addition to provide studies on a TLM approach in terms of life cycle cost (LCC), highlighting the upgrade impacts on ISS. Both mentioned new contracts have been issued in accordance to OCCAR rules and will be entirely managed by the same OCCAR FREMM PD without the need to increase personnel or to seek external support. Italy and France considered that the excellent management provided to date by the OCCAR FREMM PD with the FREMM programme could be the best way to run a new long-term cooperation in the Naval Defence domain. These activities would have fit perfectly in the small programmes Programme Division, but we are not there yet, so the next suitable option was to place them within the FREMM Programme Division. The OCCAR’s 2020 business plan highlighted Italian Long Range Radar (LRR) antenna

major overhaul and LRR enhanced Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) capabilities. Can you elaborate on these activities and on French participation? Italian LRR antenna major overhaul represents an important milestone in the second half of 2020 for the Marina Militare Italiana and OCCAR. It will be applied on Italian Ship Duilio from September and the antenna has already been disembarked to be delivered to Thales Nederland, with the reinstallation of the retrofitted one planned for summer 2021. It will be the third LRR major overhaul activity performed by Thales Nederland on Horizon class ships, taking into account the lessons learned on similar activities performed on French Horizon ships, Forbin and Chevalier Paul respectively in 2018 and 2019. As for the Italian first Major OverHaul (MOH), this includes the whole refurbishment of the radar antenna and below deck equipment in a lead-time of 12 months. The flow of the activities has been improved by reducing the delivery risks and costs. The LRR major overhaul will be performed clearly also on ITS Doria in 2022. In parallel, Thales Nederland is performing the same activities on board the UK Type 45 destroyers for which OCCAR has managed directly, in the current ISS contract, only the non-recurring activities such as the development of MOH procedures, the Near Field Test site and a dedicated healthEDR | November/October 2020


The overhauled Thales Long Range Radar (LRR) is being reinstalled on board the Chevalier Paul FDA. The Italian Doria-class will be subjected to the same refurbishment of the two French vessels. © Simon Ghesquiere/ Marine Nationale/Défense

and environmental-compliant facility for antenna components refurbishing. This 10-year preventive maintenance activity, necessary to maintain system performance and ensure that the system meets the expected service life, will be a prerequisite stage to achieve LRR enhanced BMD capabilities. Within this perimeter France, Italy and the United Kingdom are working together to reach a common agreement on the route to follow, in order to align each national operational need with the international cooperation. In this environment, OCCAR is called to play an important role to support Nations to reach this goal.


at sea and ashore, which began with positive results last December. After the reopening of Fincantieri’s facilities and the resume of the complex activity related to the testing of all the operational requirements of the contract, the ITS Vulcano restarted sea trials last July. Delivery is now planned for Q1 2021.

The Italian Navy’s Logistic Support Ship (LSS) programme will see important developments during 2020, with the final acceptance review/ship delivery of the Italian ship and the first steel cutting for the French ship under the FL LSS – FLOTLOG (Flotte Logistique) programme. Can you highlight these developments?

As for the French FL LSS programme, the aft section first steel cutting ceremony for the LSS FOC Jacques Chevallier was performed last May at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard (Saint Nazaire), marking the restart of the industrial activity in France. The production phase continued last June, when the steel cutting of the first of four bow sections took place at Fincantieri’s Castellammare di Stabia shipyard. The same section is scheduled to be delivered in Saint Nazaire by June 2021 for final assembly. The programme was kept on track thanks to the OCCAR management, despite the COVID-19. The LSS FOC will be launched by late March 2022 and is expected to be delivered to the French Navy in December 2022.

The delivery of ITS Vulcano to the Italian Navy, under the OCCAR LSS Programme, was scheduled for mid-September 2020. However, the impacts related to the COVID19 emergency, have unfortunately led to a shift of the mentioned date, due to the interruption of all testing activities,

The 2020 activities of the Maritime Mine Counter Measures (MMCM) programme will see important milestones in the production and acceptance activities of the two identical Prototype/Demonstrators’ sub-systems and primary system integration in preparation

EDR | November/October 2020

The first steel cut of the Bâtiment Ravitailleur de Force (BRF) for the French Navy, to be delivered in late 2022. © Chantiers Atlantique/Bernard Biger

for future systems qualification. Are you expecting any delay due to coronavirus pandemic? The MMCM is a mine warfare system, composed of unmanned surface (USV) and underwater (UUV) vehicles, aiming to replace current French Marine Nationale and UK Royal Navy MCM capabilities. The two prototypes have started their sea trials, as presented during the programme progress demonstration on 29 May in Brest to the French Minister of Defence. The latter confirmed the French intention to order this year four additional MMCM systems, once the prototypes

will achieve their qualification. COVID should have a limited impact on the demonstration of MMCM operational capabilities, which is still expected by October 2020. However, the exact impact is still under assessment, given the crosslinks between French and British location trials and activities, which still remain under stress due to travel constraints for international workers. The Italian Pattugliatori Polivalenti d’Altura (PPA) programme scheduled production milestones have been hit by coronavirus even if OCCAR has been working to compensate with non-production milestones. Are you

The Vulcano Logistic Support Ship (LSS) for the Italian Navy, to be delivered in Q1 2021, pictured during sea trials. © Giorgio Arra

EDR | November/October 2020


The MMCM is a mine warfare system based on a deployable suite including an USV with Thales T-SAS towed side scan sonar array and unmanned/remotely operated underwater and air vehicles. © Thales

confident to be able to reduce the programme slipping and maintain delivery milestones? While intense use of OCCAR and stakeholders’ Information and Communication Technology resources has kept the “office” workflow almost as normal, the coronavirus impact on the PPA delivery schedule remains under assessment. In fact the launch of the PPA 2 Francesco Morosini took place on 22 May, although the ship was ready since late March, activities having been postponed due to the coronavirus lockdown. So far, estimated delays for the different work packages range from two to three months, but recovery plans are going to be implemented, to reduce them. Those plans will be more effective in the mid-long term, but we are confident

The Francesco Morosini PPA 2 touches the water for the first time and is planned to start sea trials in October 2020. © Giorgio Arra


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to keep even the PPA 1 Paolo Thaon di Revel delivery very close to the contractual schedule, that is May 2021. The PPA 1 sea trials have restarted last June while the PPA 2 is expected to follow in October. The production of PPA 3 Raimondo Montecuccoli and PPA 4 Marcantonio Colonna have re-started, with the PPA 3, the first in the Light Plus configuration, likely to be launched in February 2021. PPA 5 first steel cutting ceremony took place last June, four months in advance on contract schedule. The 4th contract amendment was signed last July, implementing both the health and safety at work new guidelines and the technical and commercial changes in line with the Engineering and Commercial Change Proposals approved by Italy.

The first-of-class Paolo Thaon di Revel PPA (Pattugliatore Polivalente d’Altura) under sea trials after the lockdown. It will be delivered in 2021. © Giorgio Arra

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The joint French-Italian, OCCAR-managed, FREMM multi-mission frigate programme is the most successful naval shipbuilding project in Europe in the last decades. Here depicted a French FREMM Aquitaine-class platform. Š French Navy

Higher-end and medium-size frigate programmes in Europe By Luca Peruzzi The multi-purpose and flexible frigate platforms represent the backbone or the largest combatants of respectively main and smaller Naval Forces worldwide. The European services and shipbuilders have developed a new generation of high-end and medium-size frigates or multi-purpose platforms capable to accomplish a wide-range of missions exploiting latest digital technologies and weapons developments in response not only to national but also to worldwide naval requirements.

France-Italy The joint French-Italian design, procurement and support programme for the FREMM or European Multi-Mission Frigates is the most successful Old Continent surface combatant shipbuilding project with respectively 10 ships each built by today Naval Group and Orizzonte Sistemi Navali (joint-venture led by Fincantieri with Leonardo) in national versions for French, Italian and foreign Navies. Although the programme managed by the OCCAR European agency is nearing the end of the delivery phase 14

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while being kept alive by the in-service support phase, the national platform versions continue to attract the export market after the French industry and MoD sold one vessel respectively to the Royal Moroccan Navy in 2014 and the Egyptian Navy in 2015. While the French Navy is receiving the last two ships, the latter in the Anti-Air Warfare (AAW)tailored configuration called FREMM de Defense AĂŠrienne (FREMM DA), the last two Italian FREMMs in the general purpose anti-surface warfare (ASuW) variant could be potentially sold abroad, as advanced negotiations are on-going

with the Egyptian MoD, to be replaced by two newly-built FREMMs for the Italian Navy. The international recognition of the two nations shipbuilding programme success was however achieved through the Italian FREMM version which specifically customized and offered on the US market by local Fincantieri Marine Group’s Marinette Marine subsidiary was selected as the platform for the Guided Missile Frigate or FFG(X) programme. The US Navy awarded Fincantieri Marinette Marine last April a nearly $800 million contract for detail design and construction of the first-of-class FFG(X) with an option for nine additional ships. The FFG(X), according to the US Navy, will have multi-mission capability to conduct air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, surface The Italian Navy is receiving six and four FREMMs respectively in the ASW warfare, electronic warfare, and information and the General Purpose configurations, while the French Navy has six ship in the ASW configuration with long-range land-strike capabilities and soon operations. It will feature a combat suite two in the AAW configuration. © Giorgio Arra including the new Raytheon three fixed faces (3FF) AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar and Spectral information warfare suite, with design (EASR) SPY-6(V)3 radar, Baseline 10 (BL10) AEGIS flexibility for future growth including provisions for Combat System, a Lockheed Martin 32 cell Mk 41 direct energy weapons (DEW). Vertical Launch System (VLS) for Standard Missile Italy 2 (SM-2) and ESSM (Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile) Block 2, a RAM inner layer defence system (ILDS), With two contracts awarded in 2015 by the OCCAR RGM-184 Naval Strike Missiles, organic MHEuropean agency (on behalf of the Italian MoD) to 60R helicopter and MQ-8C TUAV, a BAE Systems the industrial team led by Fincantieri and includMk110 57 mm gun system, an ASW suite with ing Leonardo, MBDA and Elettronica, the Italian Variable Depth Sonar (VDS), an iStalker long-range Navy is replacing a range of vessels (destroyers, electro-optic sensor/fire control suite, an SLQfrigates and patrol ships) with the new generation 32(V)6 SEWIP EW with Nulka countermeasures

The US Navy selected the customized Fincantieri’s FREMM design platform for the Guided Missile Frigate or FFG(X) programme and contracted the firstof-class with options for additional nine units. © US Navy

EDR | November/October 2020


The first-of-class Paolo Thaon di Revel Pattugliatore Polivalente d’Altura (PPA) “dual-role” multirole combatant platform is under sea trials for an expected delivery in 2021. © Giorgio Arra

multirole combatant platform called PPA (Pattugliatore Polivalente d’Altura). Developed as a ‘one size fits all’ concept, the PPAs are under trials and construction in five out of seven platforms (with three options) in three configurations, from ‘light’ to perform low-intensity to a ‘full’ capable platform for high-end operations, to be delivered between 2021 and 2026. The PPA’s main features include a wave-piercing bow, a sensors suite integrated into the forward superstructure, and reconfigurable areas for different payloads amidships and under the flight deck for modular payloads, followed by the stern compartment for a 9 meters RHIB station and a variable depth sonar (VDS). With a full load displacement of 6,350 tonnes (PPA Full configuration), a 143 meters length and 16.5 meters beam, the PPA has a CODAGOL (Combined Diesel and Gas or Electric) propulsion arrangement based on one Avio Aero/GE LM-2500+G4 gas turbine, two MTU 20V800M91L diesel engines and two electric motors, with electrical power provided by four Isotta Fraschini diesel generators. Maximum speed will range from 7 knots (electric motors) to 24+ (diesels) and 30+ knots (gas turbine and diesels). Capable to host up to two NHIndustries NFH90 helicopters, the PPA has accommodations for 181 personnel, with a 120-to-145 crew complement. The PPAs feature a Fincantieri’s Seastema highly integrated platform management suite and a unique advanced two-officers piloting and combat station 16

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The Italian Navy is receiving a class of seven (plus three options) Pattugliatori Polivalenti d’Altura (PPA) built by Fincantieri with a new generation combat system provided by Leonardo with MBDA and Elettronica. © Italian MoD Naval Armaments Directorate

developed by Seastema with Leonardo support. The latter provides the new generation open-architecture Combat Management System (CMS) and a newly developed sensors and weapon package. In the full combat configuration platform, to be delivered in 2024, the PPA will feature the dual-band (C and X) 4 fixed faces each (4FF) AESA dual-band radar (DBR) developed by Leonardo together with the new Distributed Static Staring-IRST, the NA-30 Mk2 gun fire control system (GFCS), circular phased-array IFF and IP-based communications suite. The DBR’s system manager controls both the 4FF radar and the full EW (RESM, CESM and RECM) suite provided by Elettronica, including Leonardo multispectral launchers for both EW and torpedo decoys. The ASW suite includes the ATAS (Active Towed Array System) VDS by Leonardo. The weapon package is based on MBDA Italia evolved SAAM-ESD (Surface Anti-Air Missile-Extended Self-Defence) based on two 8-cell Aster 15/30 missiles VLS, with provisions to handle ballistic missile threats with future Aster 30 Block 1NT munition, Leonardo-provided 127/64 mm LightWeight (LW) main gun with Vulcano long-range guided ammunitions, the new ‘Single Deck’ 76/62 mm Super Rapido Inner-Layer Defence System (ILDS) with Strales/Vulcano kits and two remotely controlled 25 mm guns, in addition to provisions for up to four MBDA Otomat Mk2/E anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCM).

Germany Last June, the German MoD’s BAAINBw procurement office assigned a circa €4.6 billion contract to the Dutch Damen shipbuilding group for the design and delivery of four new Mehrzweckkampfschiff 180 (MKS 180) multipurpose combatant platforms for the German Navy. The award followed closely the German Parliament approval of the €5.6 billion programme funding including ashore training facilities. Damen is the main contractor in cooperation with Lürssen shipbuilder and its Blohm+Voss shipyard, and Thales (mission system) in Germany. Lürssen will work with Kiel-based German Naval Yards (GNY), after the two companies recently agreed to establish a long-term cooperation. Construction of the first-of-class MKS 180 ship is due to begin in 2023 after a three-year design phase, with delivery planned in 2027. The three follow-on units will all be delivered within 2031. Options include two additional ships after 2032. The vessels will be built at Blohm+Voss in Hamburg, with module construction distributed across yards in Bremen, Kiel and Wolgast. According to Damen, approximately 80% of the project investment remains in Germany as added value, with the involvement of approximately 100 SMEs across all Germany. Moreover, about 70% of Thales mission

system will be provided through the company’s German branches in Kiel and Wilhelmshaven. With a circa 9,000 tonnes displacement and 155 meters length at waterline, the MKS 180 has been conceived as a large, multipurpose combatant platform able to accomplish different missions according to the embarked module fit. The latter will be accommodated into flexible mission areas, respectively under the stern flight deck and amidships with handling equipment. Based on the stabilization operations worldwide experiences, in addition to conduct general-purpose maritime operations, two mission-modules are already planned: the ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) and the ‘anti-piracy missions floating base’. Capable to operate in both hot and cold weather/sea conditions, the MKS 180 will have a circa 110 regular crew with additional accommodations for up to 70 personnel devoted to mission modules. The new ship will feature advanced automation, low maintenance and multi-crew concept as introduced with BadenWürttemberg class frigates, being capable to operate abroad for up to two years with personnel rotations. Based on released information and images, in addition to the customized TACTICOS CMS, the MKS 180’s sensor suite is centered on the 4FF version of Hensoldt’s TRS-4D AESA 3D multi-function radar, a RESM/CESM suite and an advanced fire-control suite reportedly based on

The German MoD’s BAAINBw awarded a €4.6 billion contract to Dutch Damen shipbuilder, which together with Thales, Lürssen and other German companies will deliver four new MKS 180 multipurpose combatant platforms between 2027 and 2031. © Damen

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With a circa 9,000 tonnes displacement and 155 meters length at waterline, the MKS 180 is a large, multipurpose combatant platform able to accomplish different missions according to the embarked module fit. © Damen

the Thales APAR Block 2 4FF multifunction radar providing guidance support for Raytheon’s ESSM Block 2 local area anti-air missile. In addition to a 16-cell Mk41-type VLS capable to accommodate the latter weapon, other effectors slated for the MKS 180 include Leonardo’s 127/64 LW main gun with Vulcano long-range guided ammunitions, two Raytheon/RAM-Systems RAM ILDS, Rheinmetall 27 mm and 12.7 mm remotely controlled guns, long-range ASM and a Rheinmetall MASS soft-kill decoy suite. The MKS 180 will also accommodate at least one NH90 Sea Tiger helicopter, unmanned air and surface/underwater vehicles.

Great Britain The new-generation BAE Systems’ Type 26 Global Combat Ship (GCS) design found worldwide success among the ‘five eyes’ countries, having been contracted in customized variants by Australia and Canada, in addition to the UK. With a contract awarded to BAE Systems in June 2017 for the first batch of three ships, the UK MoD’s Type 26 programme is today in an advanced construction phase with the first-of-class planned to be delivered in 2025 to be fully operational in 2027. Designed to meet requirements for a globally 18

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deployable and multi-mission warship, the UK 3D designed Type 26-class includes eight frigates with primary ASW mission, while the balance of the same type component will be filled by the smaller Type 31 general-purpose light frigates. With an 8,000 tonnes full load displacement, a length and a beam of respectively 149.9 and 20.8 meters, the Type 26 design presents an acoustically quiet hull and a combined diesel electric or gas (CODLOG) propulsion arrangement featuring four MTU 20V4000M53B diesel generators powering two GE Energy Power Conversion electric motors for cruise speeds and lower silent operations, and a RollsRoyce MT30 gas turbine for 26+ knots speed. An innovative amidship flexible mission bay provides

With a contract awarded to BAE Systems in June 2017, the new generation first-of-class Type 26 Global Combat Ship (GCS) is planned to be delivered in 2025 to be fully operational in 2027. © BAE Systems

The Royal Australian Navy’s SEA 5000 programme requirements are met by the BAE Systems Australia-led industrial team with a customized Type 26 GCS platform with Australian/US combat system to reach an initial operational capability in 2031. © BAE Systems

accommodation for up to four 12-metre boats or unmanned platforms, while hangar and flight deck arrangements allows up to two Leonardo Wildcat helicopters and accept a Boeing Chinook on the flight deck. With accommodations for 208 persons, the Type 26 has a 157 core complement and a BAE Systems combat system architecture with shared network infrastructure and environment, alongside a Rohde & Schwarz communications suite. The sensors and soft-kill package includes BAE Systems Type 997 Artisan 3D search radar, Thales UK UAT MOD 2 family RESM, multi-type decoy launchers, Chess Dynamics Sea Eagle EO gun FCSs and Ultra Electronics Type 2170 anti-torpedo defence system. The ASW suite includes an Ultra Electronics Type 2150 bow sonar and Thales Sonar 2087 variable depth sonar (VDS) package. The missile weapons package is based on one 24-cell Lockheed Martin Mk41 VLS for new generation anti-ship cruise missiles and land attack weapons and two 24-cell VLSs for the MBDA Sea Ceptor air-defence missiles. The gun armament includes a BAE Systems Mk45 Mod 4 5-inch/127 mm main gun, two Raytheon Phalanx 1B, two MSI-Defence Systems Seahawk DS30M Mark2 30 mm and machine guns and provisions for DEW growth. The Royal Australian Navy’s SEA 5000 programme requirements are being met by the BAE Systems Australia-led industrial team with a higher displacement customized GCS platform equipped

with an integrated CEA Technologies multi-band AESA radars package, Lockheed Martin AEGIS combat management system and Saab 9LV tactical interface and a missile weapon package centred on a 32-cell Mk41 VLS for Raytheon Standard 2 and ESSM Block 2 air defence effectors. The Canadian Surface Combatant programme was won by an industrial team led by Lockheed Martin Canada with BAE Systems, CAE, L3 Technologies, MDA and Ultra Technologies offering a customized GCS platform with a combat system designed around the Lockheed Martin AEGIS fire control loop and SPY7(1)V AESA 3D radar together with collaborative engagement capability and solid-state illuminators,

The joint Netherlands/Belgium shipbuilding programme to procure four new frigates to replace the two navies’ in service M-frigates is expected to reach a contract award milestone in late 2021. © The Netherlands’ MoD DMO

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all managed by an upgraded Canadian CMS 330 combat management system and a 32-cell Mk41 VLS capable to handle Standard 2 and Tomahawk missiles.

The joint Netherlands/Belgium programme The joint Netherlands/Belgium shipbuilding programme to procure four new frigates to replace the two navies’ in service M-frigates has achieved a major milestone with the announcement last June of the acquisition process’ investigation/ research phase completion. Under the Netherlands MoD-led joint M-frigate replacement (Vervanging M-fregatten – vMFF) programme, the two navies, MoDs and industry have agreed on the general characteristics and capabilities of the new design. The programme is now entering the procurement preparation phase with the aim to sign a contract by late 2021. The latter award is to be followed by a detailed design phase, which will require approximately two years, more than initially planned. As a result, the delivery of the first-of-class ship was postponed from 2025 to 2027. The MoD-led integration and test activities will lead to the ship handover to the Royal Netherlands Navy in 2028 followed by the second in 2029. The two Belgian Navy frigates are to be delivered within 2030. The longer-than-planned project reconciliation process with Damen and Thales Nederland support, weighing requirements, budget and planning, led to a platform design with 133 meters length and circa 5,500 tonnes displacement, characterized by extensive automation for a 110 core crew and additional accommodations for 40 mission-specific personnel. With ASW being the main mission, the ship will be equipped with hull-mounted and towed low-frequency active sonars, new MK 54 lightweight torpedoes, and the NH90 helicopter with full ASW suite and weapons. The new frigate will also have a robust surface warfare capability centered on new Above Water Warfare System (AWWS) under development by Thales Netherlands together with EW and panoramic electro-optical suites. The AWWS combines a dual-band (X/Sband) radar suite with an advanced software in an integrated fire-control suite capable to manage the Raytheon ESSM Block 2 local area missile system, to be launched by a 16-cell VLS for a total of 64 effectors. The ship will be armed with a single Leonardo 76/62 medium-caliber gun (selected due to its provision for guided ammunition) with Thales Nederland Pharos FCS, in addition to a


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remote-controlled heavy gun and light machine guns, with images showing the Leonardo Marlin 40 mm mount and Thales Nederland Mirador Mk2. Other equipment includes the successor to the Goalkeeper ILDS (images show the RAM system and the 76/62 ‘Single Deck’ version, the latter with Strales/Vulcano guided ammunitions capability) and a new maritime surface-to-surface missile to replace the current Harpoon, both under separate procurement projects. Growth potential includes DEW and provision for unmanned system operations and support.


The Spanish Navy’s F110 frigate programme for the design and construction of five new multipurpose combatant platforms is to launch the construction phase to allow first-of-class delivery in 2026. © Navantia

With the Spanish MoD’s contract award to Navantia shipbuilding group in April 2019, followed by Parliament approval of initial funding release in November last year, the €4.3 billion Spanish Navy’s F110 frigate programme for the design and construction of five new multipurpose combatant platforms under Navantia’s ‘Shipyard 4.0’ project, is waiting the launch of the construction phase. The latter will lead to the first-of-class ship delivery in

The F110 frigate’s combat system was developed by Indra and is based on an evolved SCOMBA CMS, with integration between AAW weapons and sensors suite through the so-called US International AEGIS Fire Control Loop. © Navantia

The new Fregate de Defense et d’Intervention (FDI) or Belh@rra multirole mid-size frigate was developed by Naval Group to satisfy both French and international Navies’ requirements. The first-of-class Amiral Ronarc’h will be delivered in 2023. © Naval Group

2026, followed by the remaining platforms within 2031. Capable to operate in high-to-low intensity warfare scenarios in blue and littoral waters, with a 150 crew core and additional accommodations for 37 persons, the 6,170 tonnes displacement, 145 meters long and 18.6 meters wide new frigate is characterized by a stealth design with a singleblock continuous superstructure and a main single integrated mast, together with a multi-mission, flexible bay alongside the hangar, capable to accommodate unmanned air vehicles or a 9 meters boat in addition to the two RHIBs as standard fitting. The CODLAG (Combined Diesel-eLectric And Gas) propulsion package can operate in diesel-electric mode centred on two electric motors powered by four gensets for low noise speed and combined

with the gas turbine to reach 26+ knots max speed. Being developed by Indra as prime contractor and main provider, the combat system is based on an evolved SCOMBA CMS, with integration between AAW weapons and sensors suite through the so-called US International Aegis Fire Control Loop. The integrated mast includes a 4FF S-band new AESA radar being developed by Indra with US Lockheed Martin, Indra’s X-band Prisma 25X AESA multi-function surface radar, Indra/Tecnobit panoramic and long-range IRST, new generation communications, data link and identification package, EW suite with RESM/CESM/RECM, and a new Dorna GFCS, all developed by Indra, in addition to two illuminators for Raytheon Standard 2 AAW missiles. Together with ESSM Block 2 as

The new FDI will be the first French Navy’s 3D designed platform with a digital cyber-protected backbone, a new asymmetric warfare center and the Panoramic Surveillance Intelligence Module (PSIM). © Naval Group

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local area air-defence missiles, the latter will find accommodation in a 16 cell Mk41 VLS, while ASuW armament includes launchers for eight anti-ship missiles. The gun package features a Leonardo 127/64 mm LW Vulcano main gun, two 30 mm and four 12.7 mm remotely controlled guns, in addition to lightweight torpedo launchers and provisions for DEW. The Thales ASW package includes the BlueMaster (UMS 4110) bow-mounted sonar and CAPTAS 4 Compact VDS, in addition to the BlueScan digital acoustic suite and the TUUM-6 digital underwater communication system paired with the NH90 helicopter ASW suite and weapons.

Medium-size platforms France


a new asymmetric warfare combat centre and the PSIM (Panoramic Surveillance Intelligence Module) incorporating Naval Group SETIS CMS, Thales Aquilon communications package and sensors suite. The latter includes Thales Sea Fire full digital 4FF AESA multifunction radar which will be integrated with an MBDA air defence system based on Aster 15/30 air defence missiles and Naval Group two 8-cell Sylver 50 VLSs (growth potential for additional two VLS), the latter through a newly developed multi-weapons firing installation developed by MBDA, new generation Thales IFF, Safran Paseo XLR long-range naval electro-optical systems and Thales Nederland STING EO Mk2 gun FCS, in addition to the new generation Thales EW suite including Sentinel RESM/Altesse-H CESM (provisions for RECMs) and decoy launchers. The armament features a Leonardo 76/62 mm Super Rapido main gun, two Nexter Narwhal 20 mm guns, eight MBDA MM40 Block 3/3c Exocet antiship missiles, two twin-MU90 torpedo launchers and a Naval Group Contralto anti-torpedo system with two Canto decoy launchers. The Thales BlueScan-managed ASW suite includes Thales Kingklip Mk2 hull-mounted sonar and CAPTAS 4 Compact low-frequency VDS. The FDI features a flight deck and hangar for an NHIndustries NFH90 or future Airbus Helicopter H160-based French light joint helicopter and one VTUAV under development by Airbus Helicopter/Naval Group, in addition to operate an ECUME (plus one smaller) special forces RHIB. The Greek MoD/Navy is in discussions with Naval Group and the French MoD for potentially procuring the new platform.

The new Frégate de Défense et d’Intervention (FDI) or Belh@rra multirole intermediate-size frigate was developed by Naval Group to satisfy both the requirements of the French Navy for a mixed fleet core of combatant surface platforms (FREMM and FDI) and the needs of naval forces which cannot afford a FREMM-like platform, while maintaining most of the combat capabilities. After the French Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) notification to Naval Group (acting as prime contractor and combat system integrator) and Thales, of the development and construction contract for the first FDI in April 2017, a steel cut ceremony was held in October 2019 for the firstof-class. Programme plans developed before the pandemic, indicated sea trials start in October 2022 for a delivery one year later and achievement of full operational capability in 2025.

Great Britain

The 4,400 tonnes full load displacement and 121.6 meters long and 17.7 meters wide, 3D designed frigate features an ‘inverted bow’ design intended to improve seakeeping in high sea states. With a 32MW four-Rolls Royce MTU 16V8000M91L diesel engines CODAD-arranged propulsion system allowing to reach 27 knots, and accommodations for about 150 persons (based on a 125 crew including the helicopter detachment), the FDI will be the first French Navy’s ship to feature a combat system centred on Naval Group-developed new digital and cyber-protected infrastructure backbone,

The balance of the frigate component for the Royal Navy is being satisfied by the Type 31 programme for a today fleet of five lighter, cheaper, and readily exportable general purpose frigates, which £1.25 billion contract was assigned in November 2019 to the Babcock International-led industrial Team 31 in partnership with Thales, OMT (Odense Maritime Technology), BMT Defence Services and Frazer-Nash Consultancy. Based on the proven and NATO-standard built Iver Huitfeldt-class platform in service with the Royal Danish Navy, Team 31 announced to have successfully completed the UK

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In November 2019, the UK MoD awarded a £1.25 billion contract to a Babcock International-led industrial team to design and provide to the Royal Navy five new generation Type 31 light general purpose frigates. © Babcock International

customized Arrowhead 140’s Whole Ship Preliminary Design Review (WSPDR) last June opening the way to the detailed design phase. According to UK MoD, the first-of-class Type 31 is expected to be in the water in 2023 and in service by May 2027 with ‘all ships accepted off-contract by the end of 2028’. With a 6,000+ tonnes displacement, a length and beam of respectively 138.7 and 19.8 metres and a CODAD type propulsion and power package provided by Rolls-Royce and including four MTU 20V8000M71 engines ensuring a 28+ knots speed and four MTU 16V2000M41B gensets, the Arrowhead 140 platform features a Chinook-capable flight deck and a hangar for a Merlin helicopter (or Leonardo Wildcat plus UAV), in addition to an underneath flexible mission bay for up to six TEUs and

amidships four boats bays. With accommodations for up to 180 persons and a baseline 100-core crew, according to UK MoD released images, the combat system is centred around the open-architecture and adaptable Thales TACTICOS CMS with communication suite and a sensors package including Thales NS100 AESA dual-axis multi-beam surveillance radar, Thales Gatekeeper distributed-EO/IR, two Thales Mirador MK2 EO FCSs, Kelvin Hughes SharpEye navigation radars, Thales Vigile-D RESM and decoy launchers. The armament includes a BAE Systems Bofors 57 mm Mk3 main gun, a 12-cells VLS for MBDA Sea Ceptor SAMs, two BAE Systems Bofors 40 mm Mk4 guns, machine guns, space and provisions for anti-ship missiles and additional air-defence missiles VLSs.

To enter into service from 2027, the new generation Type 31 will have a combat system centred on the TACTICOS CMS and a sensors package developed by Thales Nederland and customized through Thales UK. © Babcock International

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New tools for the infantryman By Paolo Valpolini

Night vision systems, sights, laser pointers and other equipment are the daily working tools of the soldier. Here two operators wearing Safran’s E-Nyx NVGs which were recently unveiled by the French company. © Safran

Notwithstanding the cancellation of most defence exhibitions, some companies unveiled new systems in the recent past. Optronics and navigation remain among the most active fields. Two French companies unveiled new Night Vision Goggles (NVGs), which characteristics are pretty similar, the aim being improving performances while reducing Size, Weight and Power (SWAP) adding if possible also a “C” for Cost. Both solutions aim the lucrative BI-NYX contract with the French DGA, “BI” indicating that they will feature two tubes; launched in March 2018, the competition is still open and should include around 10,000 NVGs, the delivery timeframe being uncertain.


o answer this bid, and to re-enter the NVG market after some years, Safran teamed up with one of the major players, Theon Sensors SA of Greece. Leveraging the experience acquired by the latter with its Nyx, the two companies developed a new product known as E-Nyx, “E” meaning Enhanced,

lighter and with a wider Field of View (FoV) compared to previous generation NVGs. The FoV shifts from 40° to 47°, which allows covering over 40% more surface. A shorter focal length lens was used, which is also smaller and lighter; this might lead to reduced range performances, this gap having been overcome thanks to the EDR | November/October 2020


Developed in cooperation with Theon Sensors of Greece the new E.Nyx binocular NVG proposed by Safran aims at the French BI-NYX contract. © Safran

improvements in Image Intensification (II) tubes performances, the E-Nyx adopting the 4G tubes provided by Photonis, the customer being able to chose between white and green phosphorus. Photonis 4G tubes provide a 1.4 cy/mrad resolution, compared to the 1.1-1.2 cy/mrad of previous generation tubes, and ensure a good visibility even in Level 5 nights. The E-Nyx detection range on a human target is 300 meters while the recognition range is half that distance, a vehicle being detected at 900 meters and recognised at 450 meters, according to Safran. Photonis also offers 4G+ tubes, which should further increase performances. The use of European technology makes the E-Nyx fully ITAR-free; however as 18 mm tubes were adopted, should a customer require other types of tubes of the

To complement its new E-Nyx Safran proposes its E-COTI and E-COSI small thermal imagers that allows fusing TI and II images and showing data provided by the C2 suite. © Safran


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same diameter these are fully compatible. The other major improvement is weight: compared to the 600 grams of the Nyx the E-Nyx weighs 495 grams with the single AA battery, which ensures 15 to 25 hours autonomy depending on the type. A battery pack to be installed at the rear of the helmet to partially compensate the front weight is also available. This can also be used to power the thermal add-on proposed by Safran which comes in two forms, the E-COTI operating in the LWIR band (8-12 µm) and the SWIR E-COSI that operates in the 0.9-1.7 µm band. The addon injects the thermal image into one of the II tubes fusing the intensified and the IR image, the choice depending on the type of use. Being both digital systems, if linked to a soldier system they can also inject into the operator FoV position

Even lighter than the Bonie LW, the new Nellie unveiled by Thales in summer 2020 features a 47° Field of View. © Thales

Developed to answer a Finnish forces requirement, the new SENOP M40 NVG, here in the two-tubes version, exploits cutting-edge aspheric high-precision glass optics. © Senop

and navigation data, as well as target location and Blue Force Tracking data. Assembled and produced in France at Safran’s Saint-Benoît dans la Vienne facility, the E-Nyx is currently under evaluation by numerous units, the delivery of first production batches to the US Marine Corps and other European customers being awaited for late 2020, early 2021. The Thales answer is the new Nellie NVG, which considerably improves the former Bonie performances. Also a binocular system ensuring stereoscopic vision to provide improved relief and depth feeling, the Nellie accepts 18 mm II tubes, ensuring high flexibility to the customer in terms of vision quality. It provides a 47° FoV, and according to Thales using 1.33 cy/mrd tubes the resolution is identical to that of the company previous NVGs on axis as well as on the edge, at two thirds of the FoV. Weight reduction was of course considered by Thales, who already made a SWAP move in its Bonie, developing the Bonie LW, for Light Weight. Compared to the latter the Nellie reduces the weight by 200 grams, the new binocular NVG thus weighing less than 460 grams with the single AA battery, which provides 24 hours autonomy at 20°C. The largest provider of military night vision devices in Nordic countries, Senop Oy of Finland

recently started a development programme with the Finnish Defence Forces to enhance the Army’s ability to fight in the dark. The Letter of Intent (LOI) between Finnish Defence Forces Logistics Command and Senop was signed in May 2019, the prototypes of three new items, the NVG M40 night vision monocular, the M20 Soldiers Laser and the M20 Tactical Laser aiming devices being currently in the last phase of development with the customer. The usability test and evaluation period lasted over one year, and was carried out in different scenarios, among which urban areas. Soldiers were involved in all the design and development process, basic requirements being SWAP together with ease of operation, robustness and long life cycle. Senop plans to freeze the design in late 2020 and is then expecting the contract from Finland, the new items being already marketed abroad. The NVG M40 utilises cutting-edge aspheric high-precision glass optics combined with stateof-the-art composite materials, which allow optimal optic performances, lightweight and robustness. The monocular dimensions are 94 x 43 x 73 mm, its weight being 258 grams without battery. The M40 is one of the few NVGs that can be powered by two different types of batteries, AA or CR123, allowing the customer to choose between easy availability and longer operating EDR | November/October 2020


time, the CR123 military battery being the most powerful small-size battery available on the market. The Senop NVG provides a 40° FoV, its night vision performances depending very much on the 18 mm II tube adopted, Senop being open to customer’s requirements for ITAR-free or USoriginated tubes. A tele-extender easily fitted to the M40 goggles allows the soldier to clearly see a target at 300 meters during darkness. The NVG M40 can be used as a monocular or binocular item, the helmet mount, weighing only 186 grams allowing both options, but it can also be used as a night vision sight coupled to a reflex sight.

its FPSA (Fusil de Précision Semi-Automatique, semi-automatic precision rifle). The Tigris-IL is an image intensification sight providing an 8.3° FoV when fitted to a x1 day sight and a 2.8° FoV with a x8 sight. Based on a Photonis 4G tube, the XR-5 being also offered, it is powered by a single AA battery ensuring 24 hours operation at 20°C, but can be powered by an external supply. It features an automatic gain control mode, control buttons allowing to override it. The quick mount/ release mechanism allows installing it in seconds, with no need for readjustment or alignment. The Tigris-IL is 220 mm long, with a 90 mm diameter, and weighs 850 grams without battery. OIP will provide 1,800 such sights fitted with green phosphorus tubes to the French Army as part of the FPSA contract. The Tigris-IR employs an uncooled 640x480 pixels, 17 μm pitch detector provided by Lynred working in the 8-14 μm band, Device-ALab providing the engine core and MicroOLED the OLED display.

Together with its new M40 NVG Senop of Finland developed two laser aiming devices, the M20 Soldiers Laser and the more comprehensive Laser Tactical Laser, pictured here. © Senop

Coming to laser aiming devices, the M20 Tactical Laser is the more complete item as it features four modes, visible Laser, IR Laser, IR flood narrow and IR flood wide, a remote cable switch being provided. Without the AA or CR123 battery which provide over 10 hours continuous operation, it weighs 230 grams, its dimensions being 143 x 43 x 41 mm. The M20 Soldiers Laser is a simpler system, that provides either a Visible or an IR laser beam, as requested. Lighter and smaller, 182 grams without battery and 113 x 57 x 35 mm, its battery lasts over 15 hours, and it is fitted to the weapon using a NATO Accessory Rail as the previously described system. Both feature an aluminium case and are submersible up to 10 meters. In perspective Senop plans to exploit the M40 experience to develop binocular and 60° FoV versions. Coming to optronic sights, OIP Sensors Systems of Belgium developed two new clip-on night sights for sniper rifles, the Tigris-IL and the Tigris-IR, which first customer was France for 28

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To answer the French Army requirement for a new semiauto sniper rifle OIP Sensors Systems of Belgium developed two new clip-on night sights known as Tigris-IL (right) and Tigris-IR (left). © OIP

A rear view of OIP Tigris IL (left) and IR (right); both clip-on sights can cope with the Schmidt & Bender PMII ShortDot Dual CC 1-8x24 day sight selected by France for its FPSA rifle. © OIP

Its FoV varies from 6.9° to 2.8° when fitted to a x1 or x8 day sight (the French Army chose the Schmidt & Bender PMII ShortDot Dual CC 1-8x24 day sight). The Tigris-IR is 250 mm long, 105 mm wide and 90 mm high, and weighs 1,170 grams without the four AA batteries that provide an autonomy of 8 hours at 20°C. France ordered 1,100 such sights for its FPSA programme. Developed for the French bid, both sights will be deployed in operation before year end, OIP Sensors Systems is now proposing them on the international market. Coming to targeting binoculars, Thales recently unveiled the latest member of the Sophie family. While Eurosatory 2018 marked the advent of the Sophie Ultima, a cooled first-tier targeting system dedicated to specialist operators, the virtual 2020 edition saw the launch of the Sophie Optima, an uncooled system, hence less expensive and available to a wider number of potential users. The key element is the new 1280x1024 microbolometer which has a 12 µm pitch compared to the 17 µm pitch of previous uncooled systems, providing a very high definition while keeping similar dimensions. Another plus of the Optima is the wide FoV of its thermal channel, 22°, which makes surveillance easier, a 10° narrow-FoV being used for identification once the target has been acquired, an electronic zoom allowing to reach a 3° FoV. Declared Detection, Recognition and Identification (D/R/I) ranges are respectively 4, 1.5 and 1 km for a human target and 6, 3 and 1.5 km for vehicle-size targets. The Optima maintains the direct view channel available in the Ultima, Thales considering this the best possible option for daytime detection, D/R/I ranges provided being 7, 4 and 2 km for humans and 10, 7 and 4 km for tanks. The day channel is based on a 7x35 optic with a 6° FoV, the company declaring a tank detection range 3.5 times that obtainable with a TV sensor, which makes acceptable the bigger dimensions and higher weight involved, although the Optima remains at less than 2.5 kg with Bren-Tronics CES rechargeable Li-Ion batteries. The system dimensions were the object of a full redesign since the first announcement made in 2018, in order to cope with customers recommendations,

which led to a 20% volume reduction. While day observation is unlimited thanks to the direct view optic, the battery ensures 8 hours of night operation. The Optima also includes a TV channel, allowing daytime image recording, a Digital Magnetic Compass, an embedded C/A GPS, an external NMEA connection allowing interfacing with GPSDAGR/PLGR. The Optima is born as a networked system, aiming at becoming part of the French Army Scorpion ecosystem: it is fitted with and an Ethernet 1000 STANAG 4609 NATO digital motion imagery standard and is ready for augmented reality insertions. USB2, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections are available, an RS232 port being used for maintenance purposes. Networked systems are inherently potential victims of cyber attacks; to protect its Sophie Optima Thales adopted four different systems that check the operator identity and the software integrity. Thales proposes three optional addson, in the form of a near-IR Laser Pointer, a Seespot and a Seepointer. The company aims at completing internal tests by year-end and plans

Among the latest developments by Thales we find the Sophie Optima, an uncooled targeting binocular which exploits the latest technologies in the microbolometer field. © Thales

Elettronica Marittima of Italy is proposing its EVO-A-SAT 8Portable RRAO hand-held SATCOM antenna that can be deployed in a matter of seconds; here the antenna in the closed and open position. © Elettronica Marittima

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first deliveries in early 2021. While night vision is a vital capability, communicating with higher command echelons is another key issue for soldiers on the ground. The use of Satellite Communications (SATCOM) has considerably increased even for soldiers on foot, thanks to the availability of portable VHF/ UHF radios with such capability, one of the most widely used being the L3Harris Falcon III AN/ PRC-152A Wideband Networking Handheld Radio. Initially limited to Special Forces use, this type of comms has since spread first among specialised communities, such as that of JTACs, then into conventional units, usually light infantry but not only. With battery and standard antenna, the GPS-model adds 1.2 kg to the soldier’s burden, providing him with a VHF/UHF communications mean allowing to transmit and receive in the 30520 MHz and 762-870 MHz bands. Numerous types of antennas are available for SATCOM use, portable and hand-held, dimensions having of course an impact on the gain, while on the other hand weight, size and rigging time can become a drawback when time is a key factor. Elettronica Marittima, an Italian SME specialised in radiofrequency solutions, is proposing its new SATCOM Antenna Mod. EVO-A-SAT 8Portable RRAO, the last acronym being that of the Italian Army Target Acquisition Regiment that first issued the requirement and provided its advice during the development phase. The antenna has an SWR (standing wave ratio) of less than 2:1 over the 230-350 MHz operational band, that typical of VHF SATCOM voice links, and can cope with

Elbit Systems’ SmartNVG allows to superimpose navigation and C2 data on a standard NVG, data being provided by the soldier system, such as the company Dominator. © Elbit Systems


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a maximum output peak power of 50 W. In open space it has a gain equal or greater than similar devices in service, however it can be increased if the operator exploits a reflecting surface; this can be the vehicle bonnet, or even the ground, keeping the antenna at 20-30 cm distance depending on the type of soil, water surfaces being also very efficient reflective elements. To increase performances Elettronica Marittima provides a stirrup with an add-on reflective element, however this goes slightly against the philosophy that led the antenna development where SWAP and time considerations were the key factors. When folded the antenna is 225 mm long and has a maximum diameter of 47 mm, its weight being less than 1 kg. To deploy it the operator must open the Velcro strap that keeps the double-four radiating elements along the antenna body; once free, these elastically open up, being made in memory form materiel, and in 3-4 seconds the radio is ready to operate. A 90 mm long, 46.5 mm diameter, checkered handle allows the soldier to operate the antenna, pointing it in the general direction of the satellite, the EVOA-SAT 8Portable RRAO being omnidirectional, maximum gain being however obtained when pointed towards the selected satellite. Once the transmission is over the four radiating elements are folded by hand along the antenna body and the strap is put into place to keep them folded, the whole operation taking only a few seconds. The antenna has been tested and acquired by the 185th RRAO and is in evaluation by numerous

The SmartEye inserted in the ballistic eyewear provides augmented reality to the soldier, the system being fitted with numerous sensors. © Elbit Systems

To add virtual reality while shooting Elbit Systems developed the SmartSight, which can be fitted to most day and night sights. © Elbit Systems

Italian Special Forces units. Elettronica Marittima developed a dedicated watertight model that includes an internal circuit able to absorb the nonradiated power. This allows avoiding damages to the emitting system while moving underwater with the radio ready to emit, the system being able to operate as soon as surfaced. Following tests with Italian military units Elettronica Marittima is now ready to launch its antennas on the international market. Elbit Systems Dominator warrior combat suite is constantly updated with the insertion of new technologies and add-on components. Providing augmented reality is the scope of the SmartNVG, an add-on to any night vision goggle available in two different forms, a Night Display Module (NDM) and a Colour Night Display Module (CNDM). Both are mounted on the NVG with a standard 40° FoV, superimposing navigation and C2 data received from external sources on the NVG imaging. The green monochrome NDM OLED display is 852x600 pix and covers 18° while the colour one is an 800x600 pix and covers 23°. The add-on weight is respectively 95 and 55 grams. For daytime operations Elbit Systems added the SmartEye, a head-mounted ballistic eyewear designed to provide the dismounted commander with augmented reality. The goggles are linked to a processing unit located in the vest or fixed to the helmet, which includes an inertial unit and ensures precision calculation providing LOS

Among the new adds-on to Elbit Systems Dominator soldier system we find the Smart WristView, a compact computer which dimensions are those of a wristwatch. © Elbit Systems

(Line-Of-Sight) and PPLI (Precise Participant Location and Identification), the display being geo-oriented in real-time while the system allows the recording of images provided by the integrated HD day camera onto a 3D data-base. The augmented reality see-through monocular has a 32° Field of View. An intuitive tactile users interface allows the operator to switch between functions. Seeing augmented reality symbology while on the move is important, however the soldier needs it also while aiming; to this end Elbit Systems developed the SmartSight, an add-on that can be installed in front of most day or night sights. A fully ruggedized see-through system with brightness control to adapt it to the lighting situation, it includes a GPS module and an inertial unit, the screen showing command and control data received via radio as well as laser rangefinder measurements and compass data. Last but not least comes the Smart WristView, which can be worn by the dismounted soldier as a wristwatch. A compact computer and display, it integrates with the radio and sensors giving the detachment commander with a C4I tool giving Blue Force Tracking information, messages, navigation data and other relevant situational awareness elements. It is based on an ARM Cortex-A processor, suitable for LINUX, and on low-power consumption technology, the reloadable battery ensuring 24 hours of continuous operation. It includes a GPS, a compass, a gyro and an accelerometer, and can EDR | November/October 2020


A Dutch Marines officer wears the Mission Navigation Belt integrated with the soldier system that provides data to the haptic system. © Elitac Wearables

operate in two different modes, stand-alone or fully integrated with C4I applications. Its display is sunlight readable, the Smart WristView being compact and light, as it weighs only 140 grams. Navigating at night without having to look at the compass and checking a map, or switching on a PDA that might reveal your position, is certainly something the warfighter would appreciate. Not having to use his eyes to cope with navigation issues would allow him to maintain a much better situational awareness. In the Netherlands Elitac Wearables B.V. developed the Mission Navigation Belt (MNB), which provides haptic feedback to the soldier, exploiting his touch sense which is definitely much less used than view or hearing. The company won an order by the Netherlands’ Army for a first batch of 20 MNBs for further evaluation by the Army and Marines, deliveries having started in early July 2020. The belt plugs into the soldier system, in the Dutch case the VOSS from which it takes the power thus avoiding the burden of an extra battery; the consumption is minimal compared to radio and computer according to Elitac. The 32

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VOSS C4I, mostly provided by Elbit Systems of Israel, gives the MNB the next waypoint, the belt providing the direction to the soldier through its seven silent vibration motors, located five in the front sector and two in the back sector. The feedback is provided every 8 seconds, frequency increasing when approaching the target up to one every second when very close, accuracy being estimated at 2-3° on a waypoint with a diameter of 25 meters. The 355 grams heavy MNB exploits the VOSS GPS but is also equipped with an AHRS (Attitude and Heading Reference System) fitted in the belt, providing direction when GPS signals are not available. Elitac Wearables developed the algorithms that activate the motors leading the soldier towards its destination in an easy and intuitive way, navigation cues being felt even in the most critical situations, i.e. when running or riding a motorbike. A patented system allows to ensure appropriate haptic feedback even when the belt is adjusted to fit different sizes. The MNB is fully waterproof, its electronic being IP68, which allows to extend its use also to amphibious troops, full testing being planned in the near future. As for the export market, the MNB can be easily interfaced with soldier systems different from VOSS if those use the NATO STANAG, however Elitac is ready to adapt it to customers’ needs, the system being open for integration in Androidbased C4I systems, the export marketing being ensured by Teijin Smart Safety.

A close up of the Mission Navigation Belt which has been ordered in a limited batch by the Dutch military for evaluation purposes; it allows navigation without encumbering vision and hearing senses. © Elitac


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German Federal Police Aviation Group EC 155s and a Super Puma. © Airbus

Air Support for National Security By David Oliver Although police forces experimented with aircraft and airships in the 1930s for traffic and public event monitoring, it was the development of the helicopter in the late 1940s that provided them with a reliable and flexible airborne platform. The growth of police air support helicopter units was established in the United States equipped mainly with light single-engine rotarywing aircraft produced by Bell and Hughes, later MD Helicopters. Currently, US aviation units provide aerial law enforcement coverage in 46 states, many of them belonging to municipal or county police and sheriff’s departments. However, most are equipped with small number of helicopters, some municipal police forces with only a single aircraft.


n contrast, Europe has some of the world’s largest police air support units, with German police forces operating more than 100 helicopters.

German police first used helicopters in 1955 although the German Federal Police Aviation Group was not established until 1990. It is now headquartered in Potsdam and controls the five 34

EDR | November/October 2020

aviation squadrons around the country. These are located in Fuhlendorf in the north of the country, Blumberg in the east, Fuldatal in the centre, Oberschleißheim in the south and Sankt Augustin in the west. Its duties include border surveillance, monitoring installations belonging to German Rail, assisting in serious accidents and disasters in Germany and abroad, searching for missing persons and criminals on the run, supporting

supports the Gendarmerie’s special operations unit in counter-terrorism operations, hostage rescue, surveillance of national threats, protection of government officials and targeting of organised crime. The fleet comprises 26 AS 350s, 15 H135s and 14 H145s.

An MD 902 Explorer of Germany’s BadenWürttemberg state police. © Juergen Lehle

the police forces of the federal states following terrorist attacks, and providing search and rescue (SAR) services in coordination with the 12 air rescue centres throughout Germany. The German Federal Police is equipped with a fleet of 94 Airbus Group helicopters. This is the largest civilian helicopter fleet in Germany and comprises eight EC 120s, 25 H215 and AS 332 Super Pumas, 42 EC 135s and 19 EC 155s. The H215s are equipped with Universal Avionics SkyVis Helmet Mounted Display (HMD), ESG ESGMM Mission Management System and Becker Avionics BXT6513 ADS-B transponders. The Federal Republic of Germany is divided into 16 states, each of which have their own police force. Many have helicopter units that are deployed for tasks such as traffic surveillance and the specific search after missing persons. They also support local police offices in crime prevention and suppression. Most are equipped with Airbus Helicopters H135s and H145s. The French Gendarmerie is a military force with law enforcement duties among the civilian population that has used helicopters since 1954. Currently is air units are attached to each of the seven domestic zonal regions and six overseas Gendarmerie commands (COMGEND). They also operate in support of the National Police which owns no helicopters although it also has access to Sécurité Civile helicopters. The Gendarmerie operates a fleet of 55 helicopters belonging to three Airbus Helicopter types and specialised in two basic missions: surveillance/ intervention and rescue/intervention. The unit also

Italy has a similar dual police force. The Carabinieri is a military police force, a Gendarmerie-like group governed by the Ministry of Defense, with military and civilian duties. These include guarantee public order and protection of civilian and military assets; carry out anti-terrorist and anti-organised crime investigations and prevent and ensure speedy operational reaction across the whole national territory through its airborne units. The Carabinieri Air Group headquarters is based at Pratica di Mare and is equipped with more than 70 helicopters operating from 16 locations. Its fleet includes 20 new Leonardo AW109N Nexus and two A 109Es that are being delivered to replace its 26 A 109As. Two Leonardo AW139s, designated UH-139D, have been delivered and there are plans for the type to replace the Carabinieri’s fleet of 30 Agusta-Bell AB 412s that are used to support the Tuscania Carabinieri Regiment and the Special Intervention Group. Italy’s State Police Air Service, the Servizio Aereo, established in January 1971 is currently organised into eleven air units at locations around the country, plus a central standardisation unit. It has a fleet of 66 helicopters including A 109As

A French Gendarmerie AS 350 taking off on the Massif du Sancy mountains. © Fabien1309

EDR | November/October 2020


One of the Gendarmerie’s 14 Eurocopter EC 145 helicopters. © David Oliver

Agusta-Bell AB 206s, Agusta-Bell AB 212s and Leonardo AW139s. It also operates 20 fixed-wing aircraft including 18 Vulcanair P.68 Observer 2s. The Italian Police’s eight AW139s, designated UH139C, are equipped with a high definition latest generation FLIR, satellite communication system, searchlight, rescue hoist, cabin mission console and a high definition video downlink. The Comando Operativo Aeronavale of the Guardia di Finanza, the Italian financial police corps, is {also} based in Pratica di Mare, the corps having 13 air bases along Italy. It is responsible for the surveillance of maritime and land borders and for supporting the corps intervention units. Long range patrolling at sea is carried out by eight fixed wing aircraft of the ATR-42MP, ATR-72 MP and P.166-DL3/DP1 SEM types, while two P.180 Avanti II and one each P-72B and ATR-42-400 are used for personnel transport. The Guardia di Finanza operates some 60 rotary wing aircraft, among which A.109N, AB-412HP, AW139, NH500MC and MD, and AW169M, the latter under delivery. These are used for coastal patrolling, land patrolling and SAR. Since the creation in 1973 of its Helicopter Service, Spain’s Civil Guard has been using air resources in multiple services. In response to the needs that have arisen since its creation, the Civil Guard’s Air 36

EDR | November/October 2020

Service has been equipping itself with helicopters capable of carrying out rescue, surveillance, security and transport missions. The Civil Guard also participates in air transport security for which it has the Airport Security Units and aeronautical facilities. The Air Service is therefore entrusted with a multitude of missions including the provision of air support to the Corps Units. It is equipped with 36 helicopters including BO 105s, BK 117 and EC 135s and two CN-235 fixed-wing aircraft. It has 15 bases in Spain and Tenerife and it currently has two detachments deployed to Mauritania.

Italy’s Carabinieri Air Group operates a fleet of 30 Agusta-Bell AB-412 helicopters © FIEP

The UK’s Metropolitan Police took its first serious step in the air in 1934 when a two-seat Cierva C-30 Autogyro was hired for a two month trial period during which it was used for traffic spotting and event monitoring. It was not until 1973 when the Metropolitan Police Helicopter Unit was formed using a chartered Bell 47. In October 2012, the unit became part of the National Police Air Service (NPAS) following a review of Police An Italian State Police Air Service Leonardo AW390 and Agusta-Bell AB air support by the British Home Office 212. © Leonardo which established the first and only Spain’s National Police Corps is mainly responborderless air support for all 44 regional police sible for policing urban areas, while countryside forces in England and Wales as well as the policing is generally the responsibility of the Civil three special police forces serving that area. The Guard. It operates under the authority of Spain’s majority of air support is provided in connection Ministry of the Interior and handles mostly crimiwith crimes in action, and about a quarter of nal investigation, judicial, terrorism and immigradeployments are to aid searches for missing tion matters. The Spanish National Police Aerial persons plus response to terrorism. Service has a large fleet of B0 105 helicopters and Yorkshire Police is the lead force and the service a total of 14 EC 135P2+s, which are used for suris coordinated from the NPAS Operations Centre, veillance and other diverse police missions. at Wakefield, West Yorkshire. The NPAS fleet

A Metropolitan Police EC 145 flying low over London’s River Thames is now part of the National Police Air Service. © Airbus

EDR | November/October 2020


The NPAS operates a fleet of four Vulcanair P68R aircraft from Doncaster Airport. © NPAS

comprises 15 H135 and four H145 helicopters, some of which are quipped with new FENN700+ night vision goggles (NVGs). However, since 2009, the number of police aircraft has been reduced from 33 to 19 and there has been a reduction of about 45 percent in the number of hours flown resulting in longer response times. The number of bases have also been reduced from 20 to 15 and budgets slashed. As a result four twin-engine fixed-wing Vulcanair P68R aircraft were ordered as they are cheaper to fly and maintain than helicopters. A new NPAS aviation base was built at Doncaster Airport, to house the fixed wing assets which came online in 2020. The Scottish Air Support Unit is based at Glasgow City Heliport and consisted of one helicopter, owned and operated by Bond Air Service, now Babcock, under contract. A helicopter crew consists of one civilian pilot and two police officer observers. Police Scotland received its own, new Airbus Helicopters H135 in early 2017. The aircraft continues to be leased from Babcock, which still provide pilots, maintenance and support.


EDR | November/October 2020

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has its own Air Support Unit. In May 2005 the PSNI took delivery of its first helicopter, a Eurocopter EC 135 which currently operates with two additional EC 145s. The PSNI also operates two fixed-wing aircraft for aerial surveillance, a Britten-Norman BN-2T Islander and a Britten-Norman Defender 4000. All PSNI aircraft are used for investigations, anti-crime operations, traffic management, search and rescue, public order situations, crime reduction initiatives and tackling terrorism. The Republic of Ireland’s Garda Air Support Unit (GASU) was formed in 1997. It is part of the Operational Support Unit that provides specialist support to Gardaí nationwide. The GASU’s aircraft are maintained and flown by the Irish Air Corps based at Casement Aerodrome near Dublin. The unit operates a twin-engine fixed-wing BrittenNorman BN2T-45 Defender aircraft, one EC 135T2 and an EC 135T2+. The Netherlands Police Aviation Service is the aviation branch of the Dutch National Police Services Agency. It operates a fleet of six EC 135P2+ and two Leonardo AW139 helicopter for various law enforcement operations and surveillance duties. It is also responsible for

natural disasters, and carries out search and rescue missions. Involvement in future missions of bilateral police cooperation and with the European border agency FRONTEX are of an increasing importance. The air unit provides training to pilots, flight observers and rescuers with a fleet of seven EC 135s, four AS 350B1s, four AS 355s and a Bell 206 JetRanger. Belgian Federal Police Special Forces-extraction exercise with an MD 900 Explorer. © Belgian Police

enforcing air law, and conducting alcohol checks on civil and commercial pilots. Coast Guard patrols are undertaken with the AW139s. The Belgian Directorate of Air Support (DAFA) based at the Melsbroek military base, next to Brussels Airport offers specialised support to the police such as event management, crowd control and traffic and aircraft accidents. The DAFA’s five MD 900 Explorers, two MD 520Ns and two fixed-wing Cessna 182 aircraft also search for missing people, suspects and clandestine drug laboratories. Luxenbourg’s Grand Ducal Police is responsible for ensuring the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg’s internal security, maintaining law and order, border control and enforcing all laws and Grand Ducal decrees. It is also responsible for assisting the Military of Luxembourg in its internal operations. In 2019 the Grand Ducal Police took delivery of two Airbus Helicopters H145M helicopters for defence and security missions. They are equipped with a hoist, a fast roping system, high performance camera, NVGs, and the provision to install a light armour protection kit. The helicopters are operated from Luxembourg Findel Airport. Austria’s Police Air Unit coordinates air operations in the support of the Police in criminal investigation and major events and to assist with traffic control. It also supports the fire service when fighting fires from the air or during other

The Serbian Police Helicopter Unit can tract its origin back to 1967 in the former Yugoslavia, and was established in its present form in 2002. It provides aerial surveillance, border monitoring, VIP transport, medevac, and SAR. Based at Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Airport, the unit is equipped with four SOKO SA 342 Gazelles although only two are serviceable at a time. The unit is in the process of modernising its fleet with the addition of three H145Ms and has also ordered an Airbus Helicopters H215.

The first Luxembourg Grand Ducal Police H145M can be fitted with a light armour protection kit. © Airbus

In another former Yugoslav region, the Slovenian Police Air Support unit’s mission is to protect life and property of citizens and provide public security. The unit currently has six operational helicopters including two Leonardo AW169s equipped with a hoist, a removable EMS interior and NVG capable cockpit. The unit also operates EDR | November/October 2020


The Serbian Police Helicopter Unit veteran SOKO SA 342 Gazelles are due to be replaced by Airbus Helicopters H145Ms. © Serbian Police

an Agusta-Bell AB206B JetRanger and an Agusta A109E. The main base of the unit is at Ljubljana Brnik Airport but one helicopter is on daily duty at Maribor Airport for SAR and HEMS operations. The Swedish Police has operated its own helicopter unit for nearly half a century. The Police Wing currently employs some 55 officers and operates nine Bell 429s equipped with the FLIR Star SAFIRE 380-Hdc, Revue Thommen AG HSL-1600 searchlight system and WAAS navigation and IFR capability. The helicopters are spread throughout five air stations in Sweden. At the end of 2016 one of them took part in FRONTEX’s operation on the Greek island of Lesbos to scout the Greek borders in search of the refugees.

The Sweden Police helicopter unit operates a fleet of nine Bell 429s, the largest in Europe. © Bell Helicopters


EDR | November/October 2020

A Bell 206 JetRanger is stationed in Gothenburg and serves as a flight trainer at the organisation’s own flight school. The helicopters are available 24/7 and can be requested by any police unit in the country. The most frequent assignments are surveillance tasks and search operations. The Norwegian police force operates three Leonardo AW169 helicopters which are based at Oslo Airport, Gardermoen. Equipped with TrakkaBeam TLX high-intensity, high power searchlights, they perform a range of tasks including observation, surveillance, special operations team transport and airborne sniping. The specific layout of the Norwegian Police’s helicopters will allow the transport of six people plus crew. The force has options for three additional AW169s.

The Norwegian Police is one of a growing number of police air support units acquiring the twin-turbine multirole Leonardo AW169 helicopter. © Leonardo

MAGAZINE European Defence Review European Defence Review (EDR) is the first magazine in English focusing on defence issues with a European perspective and one which is fully managed by well-known journalists specialised in defence and security. EDR addresses every topic of the defence sector: equipment and industrial issues, armed forces and operations, but also strategic and political news concerning defence and security issues. Although the articles will be mainly focused on European topics, the review also discusses the main countrie’s partners of Europe and emerging markets: Russia, the Middle East, Brazil, India… EDR distributes during the major international defence trade fairs. The readers include military decision-makers, both political and industrial, from European countries as well as traditional or potential partners of the European defence community. Finally, EDR covers all of the major defence exhibitions worldwide; privileged accasions where policy makers, military and trade-related, are attending. N° 52 • July/August 2020

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