An unmanned version of Spanish company Indra’s twin-engine P2006T MRI maritime reconnaissance and intelligence aircraft is being developed to provide a low-cost, unmanned option for this role. Details of the aircraft were unveiled by Indra’s General Manager of Defense and Security, José Manuel Pérez-Pujazón, to the multinational participants at the 13th annual Maritime and Surveillance conference in London on September 29.
Indra adapted the aircraft as part of its so-called Targus’ project and it has already passed the viability tests and experimental demonstration. Indra is currently working on the system certification and testing phase, and has told the Regional Government of Galicia that it would be willing to conduct these activities at the UAV development centre to be built at the Rozas aerodrome in Lugo.
The aim of the development is to place an unmanned aircraft on the market for the very competitive price of less than 6 million euros per unit. “The system will offer 12 hours of flying time without touching down, high-performance maritime reconnaissance and search and rescue capabilities, and unbeatable operating and maintenance costs,” said Pérez-Pujazón.
Indra initially developed the P2006T MRI as a low-cost surveillance solution based on a light manned aircraft, designed to complement coastal reconnaissance systems which, like the Integrated External Surveillance System (SIVE) in the Spanish case, have been deployed by different countries to protect and guard their maritime borders.
Coastal maritime reconnaissance systems offer effective cover of the area between the coastline and a 20 or 30-mile radius. However, the economic interests of coastal countries extend beyond this radius up to the boundaries of the maritime exclusion zone situated 200 miles from the coastline or, as the case may be, up to the halfway point between the coasts of two countries when the distance between them is less than 400 nautical miles. This is the case of the Mediterranean Sea, in which the distances between coastlines belonging to different countries often form part of maritime exclusion zones situated within a radius of 50 to 80 miles.
Indra notes that coastal reconnaissance systems alone are insufficient to monitor these areas efficiently, respond to the issue of illegal immigration and address the humanitarian crises it provokes. Aerial or ground reconnaissance systems are also required. The P2006T MRI is designed specifically to cover these areas and with operating costs significantly lower than those of traditional maritime reconnaissance aircraft. The miniaturization and greatly reduced weight of the radar and infrared sensors and automatic identification systems (AIS) required for the mission mean that they can be installed on light aircraft designed for low-consumption leisure aviation.
This is the case of Indra’s P2006T MRI which has six hours endurance in its present version, although the new unmanned system will double that. Fuel consumption is 32 litres of automotive gasoline per hour of flight and it has extremely low maintenance costs, says Indra. This permits the on-board installation and integration of not only a Seaspray 5000E active electronically scanned array radar (already standard Royal Navy equipment), a high-resolution visible and infrared camera and an AIS, but also a line-of-sight radio link with an effective range of 180 nautical miles and an Inmarsat terminal. This terminal sends real-time transmissions of the radar signal, visible and infrared video, AIS data and the aircraft’s navigation data to a ground station, where they are monitored in real time.
The P2006T MRI has been successfully tested by the Spanish Civil Guard and Frontex in the Indalo operation that is carried out every summer along the south coast of Spain; in Operation Closeeye, recently conducted in the Sicilian Channel; and in the demonstrations of the European Union’s Perseus system carried out in the Alboran Sea and Aegean Sea. In view of the aircraft’s efficiency, the European agency Frontex recently chose it for future aerial reconnaissance operations of maritime and land borders. Alan Warnes