C4iSR: Joint & Common Equipment

MAPLE C2 system expands unmanned exploitation possibilities

02 October 2019

The MAPLE C2 system demonstrated its ability to incorporate a variety of unmanned platforms during Exercise ‘REPMUS’ in Portugal. Source: IHS Markit/James Rands

The United Kingdom's Maritime Autonomous Platform Exploitation (MAPLE) command-and-control (C2) system has been used at NATO's 'Recognised Environmental Picture Maritime Unmanned Systems' ('REPMUS') exercise, which was held on the Troia Peninsular and in Sesimbra, Portugal, from 11-27 September.

MAPLE is being developed by QinetiQ in conjunction with the UK's Defence Science and Technology Laboratories (Dstl).

During the exercise naval and civilian personnel worked out of a shore-based Marine Operations Centre (MOC) modelled on that of a Royal Navy Type 23 frigate. The MOC was running a stripped-down version of the vessel's combat management system (CMS).

A MAPLE node was set up in an adjacent ISO container. The complete MAPLE setup can be moved on the back of a 40 ft truck. Sensor feeds converged on and were processed by a dedicated server.

The exercise has seen several systems brought onto MAPLE for the first time, including the Portuguese Ogassa unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and commercial-grade unmanned aircraft systems (UASs). The main aim was to test the ability of MAPLE to integrate varied systems under exercise conditions and a priority was put on variety over military utility.

MAPLE repeated control of the L3-Harris MAST-9 unmanned surface vessel (USV). This was first trialled with MAPLE during the 'Autonomous Warrior' exercise in Australia in 2018.

MAPLE simultaneously controlled BAE Systems PAC-950 USV - which is based on a rigid hull inflatable boat - and the Puma UAV. Some of these systems were controlled by signals relayed from radios elevated on helikites. This arrangement provides a reduction in antenna, cabling, and terminal requirements and mitigates the problem of security accreditation by separating individual feeds from the MOC and enabling single consolidated and accredited feed into the CMS.

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