Telemos UAV

BAe and Dassault Aviation have today announced the name of the long planned joint UK-French Medium Altitude Long Endurance UAS.

In Greek mythology, Telemos was the prophetic son of Eurymos, known for having the vision and foresight to warn Polyphemus about an attack by Odysseus.

The two companies will jointly present the capabilities that underpin the Telemos programme at the Paris Air Show from June 20th – 26th.

Following the signing of an exclusive Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two companies earlier this year, the Telemos programme will ensure that the considerable end-to-end systems capabilities of both BAE Systems and Dassault are successfully brought together to deliver a joint proposal to the UK and French Ministries of Defence for the design, development, production and support of a MALE UAS that will help safeguard the sovereign capability of the UK and France in the future.

Eric Trappier, Executive Vice President International at Dassault Aviation commented:

“We believe that Dassault Aviation and BAE Systems are the only companies with the experience, skills and capabilities to meet the requirements of our two Governments and the strong Telemos team will ensure that we provide the capability they are looking for, whilst assisting the sustainment of sovereign industrial capabilities which both governments have invested in developing. The key thing we need now is the political decision to transform this process into the first firm activity under the franco-british treaty on defense co-operation.”

Peter Richardson, Strategy and Technology Director for BAE Systems Military Air and Information said:

“Since the signing of the MOU earlier this year we have continued to work together to ensure that, as soon as the two governments formally launch their requirement, we are well placed to develop the future frontline capability they require. We have already set up a joint team and will look to strengthen this with other leading industry players to ensure that the Telemos programme will develop a cost-effective autonomous system in the required timescales.”

After steadfastly refusing to see the benefits of UAV’s the RAF has joined the party late with the UOR purchase of a small number of General Atomics Reaper’s, operated by 39 Squadron. These have proven to be very useful and numbers have been recently increased, or at least ordered. Reaper is a high performance system with a similar type of sensor fit (EO/SAR) to Watchkeeper but encased in a larger airframe. It can fly for longer, faster and at a greater altitude. Its satellite communication system means that it is not reliant on in theatre communication resources so can be operated at distance. Finally, its party piece is a large weapon fit. This combination means the predator has value as both a strategic and tactical system.

Because we are using the Reapers on US infrastructure this is a situation that cannot endure if we are to have any sovereign autonomy even though the recent announcement of a move to the UK of some of the infrastructure is a step in the right direction.

The MoD has been ‘looking’ at the requirement for a while now and working with industry on a number of projects like JEUP and various demonstrators. The Herti system had a useful deployment to Afghanistan in 2007 under the joint BAe/RAF Project Morrigan to demonstrate its autonomous flight control and image collection systems. When the RAF’s Future Offensive Air System (FOAS) was cancelled it was replaced with the strategic unmanned air vehicle (experiment) SUAV(E) programme in 2005, this is a more combat UCAV oriented programme with the Taranis being part of its output and a joint collaboration with the US on a UCAS system.

Scavenger is part of the wider DABINETT/SOLOMON programme and the requirement is described this;

Inaccessible loitering intelligence collection from difficult and distant locations. SCAVENGER will fill significant gaps in the UK’s strategic and theatre collection capabilities, using a mix of UAVs, standalone sensors and potentially Low Earth Orbit satellites.

UK has collection gaps which need to be filled if we are to gather all the intelligence we need.

It is thought that a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV in the Reaper class will form a key component of Scavenger.

Scavenger is intended to provide sovereign capability but it has also been reported that we are considering the Reaper and its stealthy follow on, the Avenger, which has also been proposed as a maritime variant, the Sea Avenger. The Avenger will also have the same electro optical system as the F35, the much vaunted EOTS which dispenses with turrets and distributes the sensor throughout the airframe.

The BAe Mantis demonstrator recently completed a successful Spiral 1 flight test programme in Australia. Spiral 2 will likely integrate a range of Selex sensors and UK weapons. The Mantis air vehicle is relatively large, 22m wingspan, powered by a pair of Rolls Royce RB250B-17 engines (better for resilience) developing 450shp each which compares well with the 900shp single engine in the Reaper. Performance targets for a production version include a 24-36 hour duration, high operating altitude and a weapons payload of approximately 3,000kg or 12 Brimstone/6 Paveway IV on 6 wing hard points. Other payloads might include ECM, SIGINT, comms relay or even the RAPTOR pod.

With the recent Anglo/French defence cooperation agreement the Scavenger requirement is looking like it aligns perfectly with the similar French requirement, although the French may obtain a small number of Reapers as gap fillers. In a recent report from the French National Assembly the desire for increased funding for MALE UAS was laid out including a commitment to the technology and the classification of it as a strategic capability that should not be obtained from outside the EU.

The report acknowledges that because of funding issues the programme will have to be a collaborative one and suggests that the BAe Mantis might be the sensible choice with Thales and Dassault providing the payload and integration respectively, this is building on the greater collaboration on ISR announced in November 2009. Italy, Germany and Spain would likely be interested in joining any collaborative venture but only if EADS could be involved and therein lies the problem. EADS has a competing development called Talarion but this is at a much less advanced stage than Mantis and would no doubt be a riskier proposition i.e. more costly, however much snootily dismissive of Mantis EADS appear.

What started out as a possible joint venture could easily get wrapped up in European defence politics and likely morph into a multinational programme like the Typhoon or A400. No doubt it would be a fine system but it would be 10 years late, several billions over budget and not likely to be exportable because the Israelis and Americans had dominated the market.

From a late start it is interesting to note the rapid progress the MoD and BAe have made in unmanned systems development and contrast that with other European nations. The MoD and BAe have created a number of de risking programmes, getting on with the job quietly and competently. Mantis is the culmination of these to date and has cost very little in comparison, a limited set of deliverables, moderate aspirations and a low risk technology approach yielding significant results.

The MoD and BAe have valuable experience and a tangible lead over our European competitors in this area now.

We must not squander it and concentrate on fielding Mantis to provide the UK with a system that is independent of US infrastructure and easily exported, meeting the Scavenger requirement. There is a large future market for MALE UAS so let’s make sure the UK gets back into the weapons exporting business by not farting around for the next ten years deciding who is going to make the wings.

Scavenger envisions an in service date between 2015 and 2018.

Today’s announcement from BAe and Dassault would seem to indicate progress towards the common requirement, if we can avoid adding any more partner nations we might just avoid some of the industrial politics that so blights these type of projects.

Two’s company and three’s a crowd.

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June 8, 2011 12:40 pm

wow. do i detect a bit of British nationalism! about freaking time. that’s the UK i love and respect.

June 8, 2011 12:51 pm

Mantis has been on scene for a while, our new partnership with the French and with Dassult input, should see it enter both countries inventories.
Goodpost TD

June 8, 2011 2:24 pm

I believe France has a requirement (dream?) for as many as 60 airframes. For the UK there have been suggestions of 30. A 90-drones production run, even before export orders (more than possible) are booked in would be a very promising base start.

And both France and UK have now big carriers with ample decks. Hopefully this will mean a drone fitted with the adequate software and undergear for working on ships, so that there’s no need to buy a whole different drone for ship use a week later…

But EADS and Alenia might want to join for real, too.
The Talarion had a difficult birth and i judge it already dead, and Alenia has built and flown several prototypes, but none of those was, in my opinion, really ‘serious’.

I see risks in european collaborations, like you do, TD.
But i also am one of those that believe that large scale collaboration in europe is not only good, but kind of increasingly unavoidable.
We’ll see what happens.

Phil Darley
June 8, 2011 2:29 pm

Fail to see why we need the French at all with this. What are they going to do? What currently British, or non- French bits are we going to give up?

The French always want to be in charge, which us why collaborations with them fail so often.

I cannot see them just funding half the project. Something will have to give, which will result in it being delivered late, costing more and probably delivering less. In the meantime the US and others deliver a much better and cheaper

Must go, it’s time for my anti-depressants!!!

Brian Black
Brian Black
June 8, 2011 2:34 pm

Would the UK and that France be better off as joint purchasers of defence equipment – squeezing better deals out of suppliers; but have BAE and Dassault remain as competing developers. If BAE and Dassault get to cozy, and perhaps even begin merging various branches, then we are still left with the problem of having a single primary defence contractor – the same problem that we have today with BAE alone.
It’s good to see some solid progress being made in this area, but we are lagging far behind the US in UAV technology. Considering that this country hitched it’s military wagon to the hi-tech horse long ago, we are not nearly performing well enough in the domestic development of these toys.

June 8, 2011 2:39 pm

It is amusing that whilst RAF steadfastly clings to the independent air warfare role even thought impractical by Trenchard the Army Air Corp actually works to acquire useful platforms and systems.

El Sid
El Sid
June 8, 2011 3:03 pm

I’m sure Alenia and EADS would love to join in – but what would they contribute? Meanwhile I’m sure that BAE/Dassault would be delighted to “collaborate” with the bank accounts of the German and Italian governments when this thing is ready. As good Europeans surely they could have no problem with buying stuff from European companies? It’d be nice to have the Italians buying things off us as an offset for all the business we give to Finnmeccanica’s helicopter division.

The WSJ has a bit more colour – the companies are largely funding this themselves, and the programme will cost €1bn, if governments can place orders by the end of the year it could be in service within 5 years. In other words, it won’t be ready until after Afghanistan. Wingspan of 28m, MTOW of 8 tonnes, talking to RR and Safran (ie Turbomeca) about power plants. As an aside, Safran and Thales are close to an asset swap that will see Safran’s optronics business (includes the Euroflir pod used on the Patroller MALE drone and lots of naval/sub masts) go to Thales and Safran acquire various inertial navigation systems and security stuff.

I’ve said before, but the stuff BAE has been doing in UAVs is genuinely quite impressive, even if hitherto it’s all been kept pretty black. As TD says they/MoD were on the back foot but they really seem to be going for the next generation of UAVs, with an emphasis on autonomy and stealth – even if its just technology development for the sake of getting the US to take our calls when it comes to buying some of the fun stuff.

June 8, 2011 3:39 pm

Teaming up with France on a joint defence project. What’s that old phrase about doing the same thing twice but expecting a different result.

June 8, 2011 3:57 pm

@EL Sid

“but what would they contribute?”

Avionics and sensons by Finmeccanica’s Selex Galileo (more than likely to end up on the drone either way), electronic countermeasures (again, likely to be on the drone regardless, besides being on all the choppers of all fleets) and other parts.

“t’d be nice to have the Italians buying things off us as an offset for all the business we give to Finnmeccanica’s helicopter division.”

Maybe if you hadn’t thrown away most of your industries and sold Westland to Finmeccanica, along with others such as Marconi, you’d be able to sell stuff.
If you haven’t noticed yet, there’s little “all british” stuff that you can offer by now, with all the once-great industries which have been closed, killed or sold.

No armor.
No rifles.
No planes other than Eurofighter.
Extremely little in terms of shipbuilding, too.
Missiles? Not really, as it is all MBDA and Thales by now.
M777 howitzers? No. British design, but produced of course in the US were there’s people buying.
Ammunition? Again, not really, as large part of the ammo produced in the UK is half-german via Rheinmetall.

Last things left are Rolls Royce, Marshall and a few others global-leaders, while the rest has been lost.

Hard to sell when you have nothing to offer.
There’s hope with Type 26 and Telemos, and the UK will have export rights on the ASCOD/FRES SV, but in the meanwhile most countries worldwide will have already replaced their armor, many with CV90, ironically.

“if governments can place orders by the end of the year it could be in service within 5 years”

Forget this too, as the earlier date you can expect the drone to be put into service is 2018.

June 8, 2011 4:09 pm

Isn’t Rolls Royce owned by BMW now?

June 8, 2011 4:23 pm

No, but they do work together on a lot, and RR has invested in Germany in the last few years.

El Sid
El Sid
June 8, 2011 4:44 pm

Isn’t Rolls Royce owned by BMW now?

You’re thinking of the car company, which is separate from the jet engine company. The latter is a public company, listed on the LSE. But they owned some of the IP like the Spirit of Ecstasy so they let BMW have that on the cheap when VW outbid BMW for the actual car company (which became Bentley).

June 8, 2011 4:50 pm

Rolls is buying MTU
– alone or with someone else [?}, a real coup, anyway
– haven’t kept up, whether the transaction has closed yet

June 8, 2011 4:59 pm

“The UK Defence industry represents ten per cent of UK high technology manufacturing and is the number one exporter in Europe, second only to the US globally. The Industry employs over 300,000 people and generates over £35 billion per year to the UK economy.”

I suspect the “demon” BAE makes up the greatest part of both figures. No, more than suspect, i’m sure of it.
However, the actual footprint of BAE in the UK has been diminishing massively.
It still generates massive revenue for the british government, but jobs, i fear, have been dropping in number quite a good bit, as more and more of BAE’s production is now in other countries.

And if the off-the-shelf and cuts continue, things will inexorably worsen even further.

June 8, 2011 5:58 pm

A bit of gd news but leaves so many questions to sort hopefully we get a production line and design authority sorted without a bun fight. If it does deliver a workable design it will hopefully sell. I would point out the latest US air force evaluation of global hawk performance hardly make inspired reading so we may not be as far behind them as some may think.

El Sid
El Sid
June 8, 2011 7:08 pm

– Rolls and Daimler are buying MTU as a 50:50 joint venture, Rolls are going to merge in their Bergen diesels business, Daimler contribute the 29% stake they already held in MTU as part of the complicated family history. (MTU started out when the Maybachs, who had designed the first Mercedes, fell out with the Daimlers; Daimler have owned varying chunks of the company at times down the years). As of a few days ago, they had 60% so it’s going to happen but completion hasn’t happened yet.

@TD, MTU might be worth an article just given the place it holds in German military history, this is the company that powered the Zeppelins and Panzers (although according to the corporate history, nothing much of interest happened between 1935 and 1948 other than some RAF bombing raids). Today it provides diesel engines for everything from MEKOs and Absalons to Leopards (plus trains and generators and other less interesting things).

You can see the logic for Rolls, given the trend towards things like CODLAG, and diesels increasingly encroaching on turbines in naval applications (as exemplified by the GCS being offered with both), particularly with the general economic climate.

@Gabriele – don’t worry, I was just tweaking your tail! But I think you’ll find that all the complicated bits of the M777 like the recoil system are made in Barrow, the US content is about 75% which is fair enough as they’ve bought about 95% of the production run. It’s still been a great success, they thought they’d only sell a few hundred of them and I think they’re now over a 1000.

JFTR, as of the last annual report BAE has 39.2k employees in the US, versus 38.4k in the UK (and another 5k or so in both Oz and Saudi). 44% of sales are in the US, 29% are in the UK, so in broad terms the US gets its workshare, the UK workforce supports exports equivalent to about half the MoD spending with the company.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
June 8, 2011 10:37 pm

Hmmmmm… Joint project with the French? We need 30 and they want 60? We already have a near workable UAS? How long before they suggest we should scrap Taranis and go with a new French design and oh as they have the bigger share (and are French) they should take the lead?

More seriously cooperation with the French makes a lot of sense, IF the French can play nice – that will be the trick…

June 10, 2011 11:22 am

I tried to comment on this before, but Sécret Défense had a very interesting post lately about Telemos. The French apparently see it as a sensible-ised replacement for their Talarion program (basically, equivalent to Taranis – cleans your boots, gives blowjobs, eats double digit SAM networks for breakfast, exists only as a PowerPoint presentation and a multizillion euro open ended development contract).

And they think it’s based on the Mantis aircraft. Also, SD says that the proposed Anglo-French deal foresees that BAE would be the “maitre d’oeuvre” – i.e. the prime contractor and design authority – and he also quotes the French minister of defence as saying that it’s much easier to work with the Brits than the Germans. (! i think the ambassador’s knighthood is in the bag…)

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
June 10, 2011 1:00 pm

@ Alex – interesting info. It could be I’ve been wrong about project cooperation with the French. And I have to say that I do kind of admire their defence/foreign strategy. Not all of it of course; the CD’G is a right Clusterfcuk and they interfere in Africa way too much (traditionally on the dictators side, the recent Cote D’Ivorie crisis a promising development). Hmmm… Perhaps the ideal defence/foreign policy would be a cross between the UK and the French! ;p

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
June 10, 2011 1:07 pm

Did I call Mantis Taranis in a post above? My apologies – too many UAV names…

El Sid
El Sid
June 13, 2011 9:09 pm

In TD’s Twitter feed :

The Allison 250 (from the Fire Scout, Kiowa, Little Bird etc) used as a quick-and-dirty solution for the Mantis won’t have enough juice for Telemos, so they’ll probably end up using an RTM22 from the Merlin.

Also RR are talking up the opportunities for them presented by the entente frugale for things like upgrading France’s Herc engines – assuming the Frogs implement the Defence Procurement Directive and actually obey it of course…