A Parametric Study of Factors Affecting Successful Ship Recovery of UAVs


  1. Wong, F.C.
  2. Gagnon, E.
  3. McTaggart, K.
  4. Colwell, J.
  5. Zan, S.J.
  6. Thériault, O.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Valcartier, Valcartier QUE (CAN)
UAVs are becoming more prevalent in military operations for dull, dangerous and dirty tasks. Maritime forces have a need for ship-based UAVs to extend their observation horizon and increase their situational awareness. The principal logistical problem for ship-based UAVs is the safe and reliable recovery of the platform. Launching is not generally a problem because the platform accelerates from a turbulent air environment near the ship deck and superstructure into more steady air as it flies away from the ship. Recovery, on the other hand, requires the platform to pass from steady air into turbulent air. If UAVs must be used on board ships, a reliable method is needed to recover them. This study was undertaken to identify the parameters that affect successful fixed-wing UAV recovery on a ship. The study focuses on how the airwake environment, ship deck motion, UAV flight characteristics and autopilot characteristics interact along the UAV’s final approach towards the capture device to allow or to hinder a successful recovery on board the ship. It was found, for the conditions simulated, that capture device location and UAV airspeed have a great influence on the magnitude of the miss distance compared to frigate course and speed. The magnitudes and variations of the miss distances were so great that a very large capture device would be needed to ensure a high probability of recovery. The large miss distances are attributed to perturbations on the UAV as it flies through the

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Report Number
DRDC-VALCARTIER-TR-2007-484 — Technical Report
Date of publication
01 Mar 2008
Number of Pages
Hardcopy;CD ROM

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