Two of the six Thales Fulmar unmanned aerial systems (UAS) sold to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) have now been delivered. Thales announced in April 2016 that it had sold the Fulmar UAS to equip a portion of the MMEA’s fleet of 12 new-generation patrol craft (NGPC). The MMEA told AFM that training on the new UAS will start soon.
The Fulmar is a small, high-performance fixed-wing UAS that will be installed on six of the 12 NGPCs being built by Destini Shipbuilding and Engineering Sdn Bhd. Design of the maritime version of Fulmar allows the aircraft to take-off and land while the ship is in motion, which is a key requirement of the MMEA.
The UAS has eight hours of endurance and can fly 500 miles (800km) without the need to be refuelled.
According to Matt Moore, UAS Product Development Manager at Thales: “this offers an unrivalled competitive advantage to other systems out there.” He added: “deploying UASs on a patrol vessel allows the operators to project an eye into operational areas.”
This was a regular theme at LIMA, where many UAS manufacturers were keen to market their products as being ship-capable, particularly in light of the many tensions in the South China Sea.
Fulmar can extend the operational capabilities of the Malaysian maritime surveillance fleet, proving a broad range of operational capabilities including counter-piracy, anti-smuggling operations, fisheries policing and border surveillance. Automatic detection and tracking systems and Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) deliver unrivalled high-performance surveillance on a flexible platform.
The Spanish Navy is also believed to have ordered the system, but details are scarce. Alan Warnes