Textron Systems improves access to European UAS markets, sites

By Patrick C. Miller | June 04, 2015

Access to markets in Europe and the ability to test and demonstrate unmanned aerial systems (UAS) across the Atlantic are the reasons Textron Systems Unmanned Systems is participating in UAS Denmark—an organization representing industry, research institutions and user organizations.

Stephen Greene, vice president of unmanned systems business development for Textron Systems, said the UAS facilities at Hans Christian Andersen Airport in Odense, Denmark, attracted the company to the organization.

“The team from the UAS test center has done an outstanding job providing support, structure and an airport that is really focused on the application of unmanned aircraft systems in civil, commercial and—even to some degree—in military applications,” Greene said.

The airport provides Textron with a dedicated space for land-based operations in Europe. In addition, Green told UAS Magazine that the location also enables the company to operate over water and make its UAS more robust in a maritime environment.

Founded in 2012, UAS Denmark has more than 80 members and is the national industry network for UAS organizations, representing developers, corporations, Danish research institutions and user organizations. Greene said this network is another reason Textron decided to participate.

“There are quite a number of innovators and supporters of unmanned systems throughout Europe and in Denmark in particular,” he said. “The team there has done an outstanding job of bringing a network together in support of the industry and in support of the government’s intentions with unmanned systems in Denmark. Overall, they’ve started to show a leadership position in all of Europe.”

A third potential benefit for Textron Systems is having a location from which to conduct testing and to demonstrate UAS to prospective customers, according to Greene.

“The benefit of being able to fly in Europe for a European customer without requiring them to come to the United States or to be able to do some testing over there for some unique applications is very attractive to us,” he said.

Having another location in the world for operations and flight demonstrations helps Textron Systems support its customers globally, Greene explained.

“We do a lot of testing here in the United States, but we are increasingly supporting customers around the world and are looking for new ways to support them in a more local fashion.” He said.

Textron Systems serves commercial customers internationally with its Aerosonde UAS, which is currently supporting oil and gas operations. The Aerosonde is also used as a scientific and military platform. It was the world’s first UAS to cross the Atlantic Ocean, and has amassed more than 1,300 flight hours over the Arctic and Antarctica.

Greene said that while the oil and gas industry has been Textron Systems’ primary focus, it’s also looking to expand into such markets as railroads, utilities and precision agriculture.

“What makes Aerosonde attractive in those areas are its range, its endurance and its reliability,” he said. “We’re able to carry very capable payloads out to greater distances than some of the other commercially available unmanned systems. Given that with the Aerosonde alone we’ve got more than 100,000 flight hours, we’re very comfortable with the capability and reliability of the system.”

Textron Systems supports customers in Europe, including the Swedish military, which uses the company’s Shadow 200 Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System. In addition, the Italian military is fielding the most advanced generation of the Shadow 200 system, designated by the U.S. Department of Defense as the Shadow RQ-7B V2 TUAS. This configuration also is being fielded to the U.S. Army, Marine Corps and Special Operations Command.

“We are happy to see one of the biggest players in the UAS market joining our national network,” said Michael Larsen of UAS Denmark. “Textron Systems has proven its strong capabilities within the field of the unmanned technologies for many years. For Denmark as a UAS country, this membership proves our ability to attract international companies that can potentially start cooperation with Danish companies and make the UAS business stronger in the country.”


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