Aiming to test the use of unmanned systems in enhancing the maritime awareness picture in the French Mediterranean Sea, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) has established a multipurpose maritime surveillance operation. Led by the French Navy (Marine Nationale) and customs (Douanes), operational missions started on September 23 for an initial period of three months.
The project will consist of general maritime surveillance over waters under French sovereignty and jurisdiction in the Mediterranean Sea, more specifically, encompassing:
- maritime monitoring and surveillance in support of coast-guard functions – maritime safety and security, supporting further maritime domain situational awareness, fisheries control and law enforcement; and
- maritime environmental protection, namely oil spill detection and characterization, identification of targets possibly connected and where needed offering support to oil spill response. Marine Nationale and Douanes will command and monitor the missions remotely from Toulon and Marseille respectively and the unmanned aircraft will be operated from the French Air Force Base at Istres.
The contractor operating the unmanned system is the REACT consortium (CLS and TEKEVER) and the aircraft to be used is the AR-5 unmanned fixed wing aircraft. This asset has a payload comprising a maritime radar, electro-optical and infra-red cameras, AIS receiver and EPIRB antenna. It is ready to fly under SATCOM and can perform night and day operations.