Having 'navalised' its IT180 mini-drone, France-based ECA Group (Hall A, Stand A25), in association with DCNS (now called Naval Group), has successfully undertaken a first magnetic measurement mission for the Indonesian Navy. The STERNA system is based on the group's compact, high-performance IT180 mini-UAV VTOL airborne drone featuring a magnetometer and its digitiser.
According to ECA Group, this is the first time a drone has been used to check the magnetic signature of a vessel in order to assess its vulnerability against underwater mines and other unfriendly detectors. The STERNA system is a part of set-up degaussing systems compliant with NATO standards.
It can be used for different types of magnetic measurements by means of several runs along the longitudinal axis. One run measures the submarine in magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) type measurement, while at least three runs check the vessel's magnetic signature (with or without the degaussing system). An innovative algorithm compensates for the carrier disturbances and model of the vessel. In this manner, it can complete the assessment in less than an hour in operational conditions, whereas traditional methods require the vessel to be laid up for several days.
Said Colonel Anis Kelaikan of the Indonesian MoD: "Using the latest technology certainly has an impact on the effectiveness and efficiency without reducing the purpose and the objective of the test, so using STERNA will be much faster than the old method and will provide us with more accurate results."
Besides the direct computation and evaluation of the MAD risk, it can evaluate the escape scenario and mine risk, as well as checking the magnetic signature and efficiency of the degaussing system - all while the vessel is moving.
"Further developments have been done and will be continued in order to optimise its performances for operations at sea," said Guénaël Guillerme, ECA Group chief executive.
The STERNA system benefits from what the company describes as the outstanding performance of the IT180 UAV. The combat-proven mini-helicopter drone is already in operational service with the French armed forces in Mali and integrated with several other armies.
According to ECA it is easy to use, even in harsh weather conditions or in hostile environments such as desert, mountain or polar regions.
ECA has developed other concepts of the IT180 UAV for naval defence applications, including mine detection and radio relaying.