Launch System for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for use on RAN Patrol Boats

Jack Francis

Abstract


Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Armidale Class Patrol Boats (ACPB) currently provide a seaborne surveillance capability incorporating border protection and fisheries patrols in the North Australian Exclusive Economic Zone. This project aims to enhance the real time surveillance capability of RAN small teams in the littoral environment. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) can be used to detect, locate, track and identify targets of interest. Integrating a quick launch and recover UAV from patrol boats would enable the local commander greater flexibility, increasing the range of the ships surveillance capability. Currently no ship-borne UAV is used in the RAN. This project starts the process of designing and developing the launching device (LD) for the SeaEagle fixed wing UAV from the RAN Armidale Class Patrol Boats. To this extent, a feasibility design and development process, incorporating the operational requirements analysis has been undertaken. Customer requirements have been achieved through interviewing potential customers and assessing current commercially available LD in production to determine a gap in the market. Analysis of the customer requirements was determined through the use of Quality Function Deployment (QFD) methodology to produce a functional specification baseline for the design process. The conceptual design phase was based on a modification to the design process outlined by Dr. Daniel Raymer. Using the functional baseline achieved, a number of possible designs were produced to resolve the LD requirements. Through the design selection process, a conceptual design concept was determined, employing elastic bungee cords for launch. The LD was validated to confirm to the functional baseline and in some instances, exceed the customer requirements. These results were validated against current production systems of similar design. Results obtained provide the RAN with the potential for further enhancing future seaborne surveillance capability.

Keywords


UAV Launch, UAV, Launching Device

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