Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) are becoming a most essential element in modern military operations. Under current ‘transformation’ programs, C4ISR means are being distributed to all every operational level, beginning in the individual soldier, tank and aircraft which are being connected via seamless communications through all command levels. This network centric warfighting capability is becoming a major advantage derived from 21st century military modernization and transformation plans, currently evaluated by the US armed forces (FCS, Land Warrior), British (FRES /FIST), French (BOA/FELIN), and other armies.
Unattended and unmanned sensors as being developed as part of these futuristic programs. Among these systems are various robotic and autonomous ground vehicles, unattended ground sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles. Unmanned systems are are becoming an essential element of these programs, providing real-time intelligence at the various levels. At Eurosatory 2004, several new UAVs were unveiled, especially smaller systems designed for dismounted low-echelon operations. Among the new systems displayed here were the Merlin (by Sagem), Skylark (RAFAEL), and the Cybereye, Bushmaster and Parasight (Cyberflight), and Aladin, Mikado and BirdEye 500 (IAI). Other models offer vertical take-off and landing capability, they can also maintain a position for an extended period of time over a target area, where continuous watch is required. These systems are particularly suitable for urban warfare, as they can maintain a position over a target, street or in front of a window, to provide valuable intelligence from such scenes. Among the systems on display here were the US M-65/85 (TAG) FanCopter (EMT), and Odin (Sagem) and HoverEye, dveloped by Bertin. Much larger systems, are also under development, including Northrop Grumman’s and the Bell Tilt-Rotor XV-15.
Among the unattended ground sensors seen on display were the Terrain Commander (Textron), which can also be associated with a weaponized Spider weapon system, and various autonomous robots, from the IAI Guardium and Robowatch’s OFRO, through the combat proven PackBot (iRobot), IQBOT (Qinetiq)to the futuristic unmanned vehicles considered within the French BOA program. An interesting new idea was an autonomous sensor / load carrier, Vipere, presented as part of the Thales future systems display.