Maritime forces will continue to leverage Airbus-built surveillance technology under an extended contract.
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The UK Royal Navy has awarded a 12-month contract extension to Airbus for the continued delivery of satellite-based maritime surveillance services to the Joint Maritime Security Centre (JMSC).
The contract extension, awarded following a proof-of-concept phase, aims to support the continued monitoring of areas of interest in UK waters, protecting sovereign borders from suspicious activity.
Airbus’ technology leverages optical and radar imaging and Automatic Identification System (AIS) data, designed to relay intelligence about vessels within the UK exclusive economic zone, and supporting information that can help prevent potential illegal activities.
This service delivery includes the provision of vessel detection reports using SAR data analysis — delivered in ‘emergency mode’ for urgent satellite tasking to monitor suspicious vessels of interest; or on a twice daily basis for general vessel identification or the classification of ‘dark’ vessels.
Airbus will also be tasked with the provision of the Defence Site Monitoring service, which uses automated algorithms applied to optical imagery for the detection, recognition and identification of vessels to monitor port activity and raise alerts whenever abnormal activity occurs.
“The Airbus surveillance services will give JMSC a greater understanding of the various activities across UK waters, especially with a focus on potentially unco-operative vessels, helping to better address security challenges and allowing resources to be rapidly deployed to intercept,” the prime said in a statement.
This contract extension is the latest of a number of support activities for the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD).
In May, Airbus entered into several agreements with the UK MOD to deliver ongoing support and improvements for the military’s Skynet 5 satellite communications capabilities.
Skynet 5 has provided the UK with military communications capabilities throughout the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the UK seeking to renew and expand on the existing arrangements across air, land and sea domains.
As part of the deal, it is expected that Airbus will undertake enhancements to the Maritime Network Evolution (MNE) to provide Wi-Fi, with further improvements to the baseband on eight SCOT5 FMT ships.
Airbus will also support the UK's land connectivity, with the Ministry additionally ordering Airbus and QinetiQ’s Bracer capabilities for beyond-line-of-site communications support as well delivering enhanced internet to the department’s headquarters at Abbey Wood.
Further, Airbus is expected to deliver Ku-band bandwidth to the UK’s Poseidon P-8 and continued bandwidth for the Reaper drone, supporting the UK's airborne satellite communications capabilities.