Collaborative Manned-Unmanned Naval Research Project Tested

By Mike Ball / 03 Dec 2019
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The European Defence Agency (EDA) has announced that the OCEAN2020 (Open Cooperation for European mAritime awareNess) project, which involves 42 partner entities from 15 EU countries, has successfully performed its first sea demonstration in the Gulf of Taranto, Italy.

The OCEAN2020 maritime initiative brings together technical specialists in the maritime domain, working on a solution for the deployment of manned and unmanned systems, integrated with satellite and communication networks, to enhance overall maritime situational awareness and build a comprehensive picture of developing situations for military decision-makers.

The demonstration involved nine unmanned assets – four UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), three USVs (unmanned surface vehicles) and two UUVs (unmanned underwater vehicles), six naval units, five satellites for communication and surveillance, four National Maritime Operations Centres (MOC), two ground communication networks and a prototype of a European Maritime Operations Centre (EU MOC).

The demonstration, led by the Italian Navy, tested how the fusion of data and information collected from the assets deployed in the area of operations can be integrated to create a Recognised Maritime Picture (RMP). The initiative aims to show how multiple information sources can be integrated with Combat Management Systems (CMSs) to create a RMP, while equally highlighting how collaborative autonomy between multi-domain unmanned vehicles can provide a force multiplier. Two scenarios were tested – interception of a threatening vessel, and of a mine-laying vessel before an amphibious operation.

Pierre Delsaux, Deputy Director General, DG GROW – European Commission, commented: “Today Ocean 2020 is demonstrating its technical achievements, but also that joint research and development at the EU level works. With the preparatory action on defence research we started small. But it helped us to gain valuable experience for the fully-fledged European Defence Fund in place in 2021 to further strengthen the competitiveness of our defence industries.”

Giovanni Soccodato, Chief Strategic Equity Officer at Leonardo, speaking on behalf of OCEAN2020 Consortium, said: “OCEAN2020 is an incredibly ambitious project. To deliver it, we are bringing together a pan-European team of experts, each of which is contributing its own area of world-class capabilities. Operationally, this project is important demonstrating the possibility to enhance maritime surveillance – of vital interest to European defence – integrating unmanned platforms with traditional systems. More broadly, OCEAN2020 demonstrates the potential and the true spirit of European collaboration in the defence sector, having enabled a real partnership of large and small industry, academia and defence ministries from across the continent.”

Jorge Domecq, EDA Chief Executive, said: “Today’s demonstration is proof of the added-value of EU supported defence research. In deploying 9 unmanned assets, naval assets and integrating them with an extensive satellite and communication networks, OCEAN2020 takes the aims of PADR and puts them into the operational domain where the benefits of European defence cooperation are confirmed.”

A second demonstration, led by the Swedish Navy, is planned for summer 2020 in the Baltic Sea.

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Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact