The UK Ministry of Defence's requirement for an unmanned surveillance system, dubbed Scavenger, could result in the first aircraft to carry the "platform-agnostic integration system" sensor concept being developed by Selex Galileo for medium-altitude, long-endurance and larger air vehicles.

The new system, derived from Selex's Airborne Tactical Observation System (ATOS), will be ready for deployment from 2012 and feature "full capability" from 2014, said Selex chief executive Fabrizio Giulianini.

Speaking at Pratica di Mare naval air station near Rome to mark 10 years of ATOS operation aboard ATR 42 MP Surveyor turboprops by Italy's financial guard, a militarised police force responsible for patrolling the country's territorial waters. Giulianini says Selex will develop the UAV-oriented system for fixed- or rotary-wing platforms, regardless of whether it is selected for Scavenger.

Key features will include integration of electro-optical/infrared, radar and electronic warfare sensors with a mission computer and real-time datalink. Selex's UK operation is instrumental in the system's development, he said.

ATOS-equipped aircraft have seen heavy use in recent months as the guard has had to monitor the seas around the island of Lampedusa. As the most southerly part of Italy it is the nearest port of call for refugees fleeing the upheavals in Libya and Tunisia.

Selex began ATOS development in conjunction with the financial guard in 1997. Now 45 systems are used by nine customers on fixed- and rotary-wing platforms including the ATR 42 and 72, Airbus Military CN-235, Beechcraft King Air 350 and Bombardier Dash 8. The GdF also uses a lightweight version on Piaggio P166-DP1s.

Source: Flight International