The roadmap envisions different types of UAVs integrated into existing ships as well as future ships. Naval News reported that the planned platforms range from rotary-wing UAVs to larger fixed-wing UCAVs.
The first phase includes small fixed-wing UAVs for ISR and large-sized rotary-wing UAVs. This will be in the form of Boeing’s ScanEagle catapult-launched UAV fitted with electro-optics and Leonardo’s 200 kg-class AWHero rotary-wing UAV, somewhat equal to Camcopter S100. The latter is designed with maritime use and control from ship combat management systems in mind.
The second phase will see the integration of VTOL fixed-wing UAVs with no candidate set for now. These types of UAVs combine fixed-wing altitude and speed advantage with runway independence thanks to vertical propellers.
The third phase covers a longer term with both a new UAV and a ship platform. The evaluation is planned to begin in 2029-2030 for a ship to operate UAVs, USVs and UUVs. The UAVs to be used on the ship will conduct ISR and combat missions. The ship’s combat management system will be oriented toward the control of unmanned systems.
Turkiye and Portugal are also actively working on large naval platforms intended to carry various unmanned systems.
Turkiye plans to use Bayraktar TB3 UCAV and KIZILELMA unmanned fighters, as well as various USVs like MARLIN and MIR on TCG ANADOLU LHD.
Bayraktar TB3, continuing its test flights, has a high potential for armed ISR missions thanks to a diverse range of payload options and 32 hours of endurance.
Portugal is developing a platform closer to Italy’s definition, the Multifunctional Naval Platform. The platform is expected to conduct patrol, ASW, and surveillance missions with a diverse load of unmanned systems, including UAVs of various sizes, UUVs and USVs. An angled flight deck is present for fixed-wing and rotary-wing platforms. Damen was awarded a contract in 2023 for the construction of the ships.