Austrian surveillance specialist Airborne Technologies (Hall 5, Stand HG397) has introduced a camera lift system for fixed-wing aircraft that allows large surveillance systems to be completely retracted into the aircraft. Not only does this allow surveillance platforms to be operated discreetly from civilian airfields, it also provides complete protection for sophisticated optics from weather when not in use.
Airborne Technologies’ camera lift is a lightweight unit made from carbon fibre reinforced plastic and is tailored for 20in gimballed sensor systems. The hoist lifts the sensor ball completely into the cabin, and a visual indicator allows the crew to see whether the ball has been sufficiently retracted for safe landing. An emergency retraction function is included, with an independent battery pack. The lift’s low weight and compact size make it ideal for small cabin sizes, allowing smaller aircraft to undertake the kind of surveillance missions normally performed by larger, more expensive platforms.
Also on display is the company’s innovative SCARPod, a self-sufficient lightweight pod that can mount 10in or 15in sensor turrets. The pod is designed to be carried from standard NATO weapons lugs by rotary- and fixed-wing platforms, and requires no special connectors. Power is provided by an internal battery source, while data transfer between sensor and operator station is performed wirelessly. As well as the sensor package, the pod can accommodate comint/sigint systems, datalinks, augmented reality system and moving map.
This month, the SCAR‑Pod is taking part in a NATO exercise, with a pod fitted to a Pilatus PC-9 aircraft. The system is already in service with an undisclosed customer, and Airborne Technologies is in discussions with a number of aircraft manufacturers wishing to offer a surveillance capability.