Talarion: Responding to an Urgent Need for ISTAR Capabilities
Interview with Bernhard Gerwert, Chief Operating Officer, Cassidian
08:16 GMT, October 31, 2011 Talarion is the new European unmanned air system (UAS) programme to fulfil the operational requirements of Germany, France and Spain for future Intelligence, Surveillance and Target Acquisition (ISTAR) missions. Mr Bernhard Gerwert, Chief Operating Officer of Cassidian recently outlined the Talarion programme, industrial participation and negotiations with Turkey in details in an interview with the Defence Turkey Magazine. The interview is reproduced below with courtesy of Defence Turkey (DT).
DT: Could you describe the new Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) programme called Talarion?
Bernhard Gerwert: Talarion is a new UAS programme led by Cassidian and its industrial partners to fulfil the operational requirements of several countries in Europe and on the export markets for Intelligence, Surveillance and Target Acquisition (ISTAR) missions both for military, security and civilian applications. Thanks to its specific design Talarion is able to operate over its broad flight envelope spectrum, thereby establishing persistent surveillance, precise adversary identification, localisation and real-time intelligence.
Main design drivers for Talarion are the requirements to get a full certification, allowing flying in non-segregated airspace, operational superiority providing large coverage at long distances, mission modularity adaptable to the operational scenarios and autonomy.
Talarion is based on a modular payload concept, thereby providing the possibility to extend the system’s capability in many directions. The internal payload and sensor integration guarantees Talarion’s operational readiness for simultaneous ground and maritime surveillance missions. The fuselage diameter allows the installation of a large SATCOM to cope with the high data rate demand and a retractable electro-optical infra-red laser designator turret to improve flight performance. Finally, being a European development, Talarion provides all rights and possibilities for today’s unlimited operational use and secures flexibility for future enhancements to always provide operational capabilities according to the needs of our customers.
DT: What about the timeline of the Talarion programme?
Gerwert: In 2007, France, Germany and Spain shared their operational requirements for an Unmanned Aerial System such as Talarion. In 2009, Cassidian and partners reduced the risk of the programme with appropriate technical demonstrations and simulations. The Risk Reduction Study has been concluded with a proposal covering the development and production of 15 systems. Since one system comprises 3 air vehicles each, there is a total interest for 45 air vehicles. Due to our continuous efforts we will be able to deliver a prototype in 2015 and first delivery in 2017.
Let me also point out that we invested already more than ?500 million in the development of all our UAS over the recent years. This investment underlines our commitment to be Europe’s leading UAS provider. We have proven our technological capabilities many times, for instance with the successful operations of the Harfang by the French Air Force simultaneously in Afghanistan and over Libya, a series of successful flight test campaigns of its Barracuda technology demonstrator in Canada, the development of the ATLANTE tactical system, the first flight of our VTOL UAS in France and our contributions to the EuroHawk programme which will be operated by the German Air Force.
DT: Could you provide details about the industrial issues of this UAS programme?
Gerwert: Cassidian has all the development know-how and manufacturing skills for UAS based on the experiences of the different programmes in Germany, France and Spain. Initially, we started Talarion as a tri-national programme; however, the recent industrial partnership with Turkey demonstrates the appeal of such a programme.
Talarion would secure and create more than 10,000 jobs in the high technology aerospace and defence industry in Europe. And finally, being the next generation UAS to fly in civil airspace, Talarion would create significant export opportunities for the aerospace industry. All these facts demonstrate that this unique capitalisation of operational and industrial experience build up around the Talarion programme has good chances of continued progress. In any case, it would strongly position the involved nations in the strategic competence sector of UAS embedded in European cooperation.
DT: During IDEF 2011, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) signed a MoU with Cassidian to establish close collaboration on the Talarion programme for the next-generation UAS. How do you assess that cooperation and what are your plans to establish cooperation with other Turkish companies?
Gerwert: With TAI entering the core development programme for Talarion, Turkey is definitely anchored in the European aerospace industry, including the opportunities to participate in other major programmes. Furthermore, the strong involvement of the Turkish defence industry in the development and production sector will clearly generate huge increases in terms of expertise and jobs. It marks the start of a new level of international cooperation on UAS projects, a situation we particularly welcome and appreciate, and which may lead to further cooperation depending on our respective needs and capabilities.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in June 2011 between five major defense industrial players to boost international cooperation. This agreement involving among others Cassidian and TUSAS-Türk Havacilik ve Uzay Sanayii A.S. (Turkish Aerospace Industries, Inc.) was signed during an official ceremony at the Le Bourget International Air Show 2011. This agreement boosts the exploration of potential collaborative opportunities, a combination of complementary skills and experience to a mutual benefit, including shared and common works with regard to programmes such as Talarion, Aerial Target Drones and VTOL UAV. This five-nation-group (Turkey, Germany, France, Spain, United Kingdom) has a wide range of experience and competencies in the specific field of aerospace and have mutually agreed to further explore and develop collaboration. This agreement followed a previous MoU signed during IDEF 2011 for the Talarion cooperation between Cassidian and Turkish Aerospace Industries, (TAI), demonstrating their commitment for a wider international collaboration in the defence industry.
DT: What are your expectations for the future of Talarion?
Gerwert: There is an urgent need for ISTAR capabilities and the assessment of crisis situations in the European Armed Forces which will enable rapid political decision-making of its governments. Our flexibility remains the determining key factor for the success of the Talarion programme and we are absolutely committed to realise every possible effort to satisfy the expectations of our customers. Therefore, I expect the involved nations to decide for Talarion as their future ISTAR system soon.