Schiebel and Thales to provide a new “eye in the sky” for the Royal Navy

Royal Navy to team crewed and uncrewed air platforms for persistent surveillance.

Anita Hawser
10 February 2023


The Royal Navy has awarded a circa £20 million contract to Schiebel and Thales to provide a new “eye in the sky” and persistent surveillance for finding and tracking threats. 

High-precision Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) sensors and systems from Thales will be fitted to an S-100 uncrewed air system from Schiebel and feed real-time images and radar data back to Royal Navy warships on the front line from 2024.

The Royal Navy is calling the new tactical uncrewed air system “Peregrine,” which it says has strong historic links to the Fleet Air Arm. For the first time, uncrewed platforms such as the Peregrine will operate alongside manned platforms such as the Navy’s Wildcat patrol helicopters, to provide round-the-clock surveillance of targets over waters in the Gulf counter-piracy, terrorism and smuggling missions.

“Peregrine can be launched in challenging conditions, day and night, and will be deployed to protect warships, greatly extending detection range and fidelity, for enhanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance gathering.” 

Rear Admiral James Parkin, the Royal Navy’s Director of Development said: “As a system both deployed onto and integrated into, warships and auxiliaries operating in congested and complex areas of the world, the Peregrine aircraft offers what the Royal Navy needs to respond to the wide variety of threats that we are facing today.

“Today is also a key milestone in the Fleet Air Arm's evolution to a mixed crewed and uncrewed fighting arm of the Fleet, and we are anticipating learning many lessons as such technologies continue to develop and offer new opportunities for the current and future Navy.”

Andy Start, CEO of Defence Equipment & Support who awarded the contract, said: “The DE&S RPAS team have delivered a contract which will see rapid development and deployment of a key Remotely Piloted Air System capability for the Royal Navy. 

Schiebel, together with system integrator Thales, will provide the operationally proven S-100 with a range of high-precision ISR sensors and systems, including the Thales I-Master radar, and EO/IR camera, and an Automatic Identification System (AIS), all fused with the CarteNav’s AIMS Mission System, which enables an all-weather detection and identification capability of unknown targets.

High-definition imagery and radar data downloaded to the system operator and transmitted in real-time into the ship’s Combat Management System (CMS), will provide the crew with invaluable time to prepare and enact operational decisions.