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Thales and Schiebel have been chosen to provide a new tactical unmanned aerial surveillance capability for the UK Royal Navy (RN) to be known as ‘Peregrine’.

Announcing the GBP 20 M contract on 10 February 2023, the UK Ministry of Defence’s Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) organisation stated that the Peregrine system, which will be deployed from 2024 and initially be focused on operations in the Gulf region, “will feed real-time images and radar data back to Royal Navy warships on the front line”.

The Peregrine system combines Schiebel’s proven Camcopter S-100 unmanned aerial system with the Thales I-Master radar, which can be operated in both synthetic aperture radar and maritime moving target indication modes, as well as an electro-optical/infra-red sensor that is cross-cued to identify targets. The Peregrine system will be deployed on an RN Type 23 frigate for an initial period of two years, with an option to extend this, with DE&S stating that this deployment “will give the Royal Navy valuable experience and understanding of the use of uncrewed systems in this role ahead of further decisions and investments”.

The UK Royal Navy’s Peregrine tactical unmanned aerial surveillance system combines the Schiebel Camcopter S-100 with Thales sensors that include the I-Master radar. (Schiebel)

Thales added in a statement announcing the award that its sensors on the S-100 will be “supported by an automatic identification system and fused together with the CarteNav AIMS Mission System” to provide multi-sensor integration, planning, data collection and dissemination of that data.

Peregrine “will be the first uncrewed rotary-wing aircraft to operate alongside the RN’s] Wildcat helicopter, allowing for round-the-clock aerial surveillance in a timely boost to the Royal Navy’s operational capability”, DE&S added.

Peter Felstead