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BAE Systems Showcases Mantis And Herti Autonomous Unmanned Aircraft Systems At Avalon 2009


VICTORIA, Australia - Visitors to Avalon (the Australian International Airshow and Aerospace and Defence Exposition) will see BAE Systems’ vision of the future capability of autonomous Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) on display via its MANTIS and HERTI systems.

Mantis and HERTI are next-generation autonomous systems, with emphasis placed on the levels of autonomy designed into the system and the concept of operations developed for effective deployment and operation. BAE Systems Australia has been responsible for the development, integration and support of the Autonomous Vehicle Management System (VMS) - a significant element of the “smart autonomy” capability.

BAE Systems Australia was also responsible for the design and integration of the real-time elements of the Ground System (through which the operator interface is achieved). The Mantis and HERTI ground environment is based on the ISR Management System concept developed by BAE Systems Australia through a three-year, internally funded R&D program, and proven through earlier operations of the BAE Systems HERTI, Raven, Corax and Kingfisher UASs.

The mission simulation and training system for Mantis and HERTI, which includes mission rehearsal and analysis capabilities, and the System Test Unit (STU) were also developed by BAE Systems Australia. All these elements constitute part of the HERTI UAS baseline configuration that has been successfully deployed into theatre in a War Fighting Experiment with the Royal Air Force (UK).

BAE Systems Australia is proud to be part of the team associated with the Mantis and HERTI success, which is a significant milestone in the transition from a UAS design and research group to a global leader in providing next generation, operationally deployable autonomous systems.

MANTIS is an advanced technology demonstrator programme jointly funded by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and UK industry to develop an autonomous medium altitude long range (MALE) Unmanned Aircraft System providing deep and persistent ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance). The exhibition at Avalon will be home to a full scale model of the large twin engine aircraft and will demonstrate MANTIS’ unique autonomous mission system capability through a fully operational Ground Control Station.

Brad Yelland, BAE Systems Australia’s General Manager of Aerospace and Autonomous Systems Development, said: “Australia is an ideal environment for exploiting the diverse potential scenarios for typical autonomous systems operations. UASs are expected to play a significant role in reconnaissance and long endurance surveillance missions and MANTIS is a large, next generation, highly capable system ideally suited to work of this kind.”

MANTIS is a fully autonomous next generation UAS, meaning it flies itself throughout the whole mission and its mission system enables it to automatically detect and manage all target information. Autonomy greatly increases the effectiveness of operations by allowing commanders to focus on the overall task instead of vehicle control. This allows significantly reduced workload and manpower for operations, reduces risk of accidents due to human error and reduces communications/data link requirements between the vehicle and the ground.

MANTIS is designed for deep penetration, long-range intelligence gathering and is a large platform with a wingspan of over 20 metres and carries a significant payload in terms of sensors and potential weaponry. MANTIS is a genuine fly-by-wire, all-electric controlled aircraft. In MANTIS there are no hydraulics, allowing the system to be easily broken down to fit into a C130 Hercules aircraft making it extremely deployable. Final assembly, integration and test of the first aircraft is progressing well in accordance with the schedule for the maiden flight which is expected to occur in Australia during Q2 2009.
Production variant HERTI

The BAE Systems HERTI autonomous Unmanned Aircraft System is one of a new generation of UAS suitable for both military and civil operations. The production standard variant and its Ground Control Station will be on display at Avalon.
The production standard airframe is manufactured by Slingsby Aviation in the UK, based on an original design by J&AS Aero Design of Poland. A new, robust mission system is a key feature of the production standard HERTI. Enhanced sensor flexibility is provided through the proven, multi-payload turret provided by Polytech AB from Sweden which is equipped with state of the art electro optic sensors for day and night operations. In addition, the production standard HERTI’s design enables easy integration of alternative sensors to meet specific customer operational requirements.

Key for the production standard HERTI is the level of reliability and safe operation it will provide. This will be achieved through the BAE Systems developed triplex Flight Control System and new avionics suite to give an improved operational capability as well as a high level of system redundancy guaranteeing a high level of mission availability. Recognising some of the key operational requirements to provide a system which can provide all weather and persistent surveillance, the production standard system also includes integrated lightning protection as well as a full night time flying capability.

BAE Systems is conducting an extensive flight test development programme in Australia and the UK, using two development aircraft that exercise the new mission system. A number of demonstration flights have also been carried out at fully operational customer airbases using the self-contained Ground Control Station, as well as the remote viewing terminal, enabling real time access to intelligence data via satellite.

Mr Yelland said,” Through the analysis of operational requirements to provide soldiers in the field rapid access to real-time information for critical battlefield situational awareness, BAE Systems Australia has developed the MVT (mobile viewing terminal) and C&IM (Collateral and Information Management) systems to support this capability and further enhance the operational effectiveness of the HERTI system’s core role.”

With its ability to take off, complete a full mission and land – all at the click of a computer mouse – HERTI has been designed to meet a wide variety of operational needs, both cost effectively and with extremely high levels of reliability while removing the need for an operator or pilot to control the aircraft from the ground. When coupled with BAE Systems’ Imagery Collection & Exploitation (ICE) system, the aircraft offers real potential in the fields of maritime, coastline, border and military surveillance as well as showing broader potential for areas such as pipeline, plant and infrastructure surveillance, and insurgent detection.

About BAE Systems

BAE Systems is the premier global defence, security and aerospace company delivering a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology solutions and customer support services. With approximately 105,000 employees worldwide, BAE Systems’ sales exceeded £18.5 billion (US $34.4 billion) in 2008.


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