Shortcomings identified in Afghanistan and Kosovo operations precipitate shake-up

The German army is preparing a restructuring of its unmanned air vehicle units as part of a broader overhaul of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance forces.

The proposed reorganisation follows shortcomings identified during recent German army operations in Afghanistan and Kosovo with existing UAV and ground-based surveillance and reconnaissance systems divided between nine different organisational groupings.

The bulk of the German army's existing UAVs - comprising the EADS CL-289, Rheinmetall Defence Electronics KZO and EMT Luna - are categorised as target acquisition assets and assigned to artillery reconnaissance battalions.

The sole exception is the new EMT Aladin short-range UAV now being acquired to equip the armoured reconnaissance corps.

Col Bernt Dunker, staff officer for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems in the German army's armour branch, says: "We are considering a new structure for our reconnaissance assets. On the one hand, the structure will be based on required capabilities for potential operations; and on the other, on requirements to set up viable task forces already in the basic structure principally following the philosophy that you train as you fight."

Dunker told the Unmanned Systems Europe 2004 conference in Berlin that "we intend to concentrate the ground-based and airborne reconnaissance assets in the reconnaissance branch, and leave target acquisition assets with the artillery. The new reconnaissance battalion will have two to three armoured reconnaissance companies."

Each company will comprise a mixed UAV unit operating Luna, Aladin and some KZO and CL-289 vehicles as well as a human intelligence platoon.

The remainder of the KZO systems will remain with the existing artillery reconnaissance battalion in the target acquisition role.

A number of Aladin and Luna systems will also be transferred to brigade level to operate as an organic asset.

Dunker says that the overall Aladin order will comprise 115 systems, with this to start at the beginning of 2005. He says the UAV will be an upgraded version, with this again reflecting lessons from use of that system in Afghanistan.

Dunker also says that a requirement for a close-range vertical take-off and landing UAV is still being defined, with the ability to operate indoors considered critical. The UAV is most likely to be assigned to special forces units.


Source: Flight International