With the Middle East, with all its regional tensions, becoming a major defence market, companies are increasingly displaying their choicest products at various events in the region.
Textron Systems, had its iCommand Integrated Command Suite, the Aerosonde Small Unmanned Aircraft System, and a model of the Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle (CUSV) on display at the just concluded DIMDEX show and is eager to capitalize on the growing interest in its products in the Middle East.
The company has been working with multiple customers throughout the Middle East for years. “Just last year, Textron Systems’ sold COMMANDO armoured vehicles to the Afghan National Army – and we are currently producing those vehicles at our facility in Louisiana,” Wayne Prender, Textron Systems Vice President of Control & Surface Systems, told Asian Defence Technology. “Additionally, the Aerosonde and Shadow unmanned aircraft systems are conducting thousands of flight hours throughout the Middle East each month. The Middle East has been an important customer for us for years and we hope to continue working with the region’s customers.”
The company’s CUSV is the system of choice for the U.S. Department of Defense’s first unmanned surface vehicle program of record. In January this year, the company revealed that it had entered into a study agreement to weaponize the CUSV for a surface warfare role.
The fourth-generation CUSV, which has modular, multi-payload flexibility, can conduct a variety of missions such as mine sweeping and neutralization role; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR); harbor security; monitoring or protection. The multi-payload capable vehicle is survivable up to Sea State 6, which is equivalent to 20-foot waves. Equipped with improved propulsion systems for enhanced speed, range, stability and endurance, the vehicle is deployable from ports, well decks and both Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) configurations.
“Many nations are closely tracking the U.S. Navy’s adoption of unmanned systems for mine countermeasure (MCM) missions through the UISS program,” said Prender. “Several nations have expressed interest in the CUSV and we are continuing to have discussions with them around the capabilities of unmanned maritime systems and why the specific MCM capability will continue to be critical for countries around the world.”
iCommand is designed to convert and merge disparate intelligence and other data feeds to create a coherent operational picture for military users. It ensures real-time synchronized command and control data fusion across manned and unmanned systems.
“We’ve found that Middle Eastern customers are very interested in the iCommand Integrated Command Suite,” said Prender. “We have not had an iCommand sale yet, but we believe this will be realized as we further our discussions with various customers.”
The company’s Aerosonde Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS) is designed for expeditionary land- and sea-based operations and is equipped for simultaneous day-and-night full-motion video, communications relay and intelligence in a single flight. At the previous edition of DIMDEX, the company signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Qatar Armed Forces for Aerosonde MK 4.7 drones.
“The Aerosonde SUAS is equipped to carry numerous payloads in a single flight; for example, advanced electro-optic/infrared payloads for day-and-night persistent surveillance, precision survey imaging, as well as communications relay to extend the reach of responders’ communications in difficult and dangerous terrain,” said David Phillips, Textron Systems Vice President of Small/Medium Endurance Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
“Another feature that sets the Aerosonde system apart from its competitors is the system’s Lycoming EL-005 engine, which makes the Aerosonde the only system in its class with a propulsion system completely supported by a manufacturer with unmatched manned aviation expertise, including a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Production Certificate,” added Phillips.