Tag Archives: Border Security

American Millionaire using Unmanned Helicopters to Rescue African Migrants at Sea

Migrants often travel to Europe aboard rickety old fishing vessels which are both unreliable and over loaded. Human traffickers cram them so full that there’s no room left for essential supplies like water or even shelter. Increasingly, voyages are taking place during inclement weather as the traffickers try to avoid their own arrest by Italian authorities.

Since 1993, 20,000 people have died in the Mediterranean Sea while fleeing war-torn Africa for the safety of European shores. Now, the world’s first private maritime search and rescue operation is doing everything it can to help them. And they have already saved thousands of lives.

 

The UN estimates that 207,000 people tried to clandestinely cross the Mediterranean last year. A number that’s accelerating rapidly as conflicts on that continent grow worse. Migrants fleeing Syria and Iraq are adding to their numbers as they travel from the Middle East to Libya before enlisting human traffickers to smuggle them into Europe.

Forget the politics for a second, these are hundreds of thousands of men, women and children taking to the sea aboard what are often unsafe, overcrowded vessels that catch fire and sink and on which they may have inadequate access to food, drinking water and medical supplies.

On October 3, 2013, a boat carrying over 500 migrants caught fire and sank just a quarter mile from the shore of the Italian island Lambedusa. Over 360 people lost their lives, within view of the shore. It served as a wake up call for European authorities.

Schiebel S-100 CAMCOPTER aboard the MOAS in Malta

Pope Francis offered prayers for the victims and called on his followers to help, stating, “Let’s unite our efforts so that tragedies like this don’t happen again. Only a decisive collaboration of everyone can help and prevent them…It is a disgrace.”

In response, the Italian government launched Mare Nostrum, but an American businessman living in Malta, close to the main smuggling routes, also heard the plea.

Christopher Catrambone is an immigrant himself, having moved his family to Malta from his native New Orleans to flee the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Last year, he and his wife Regina say they invested“nearly 50 per cent of our savings” — $US7.5 million — to purchase a 130-foot search and rescue ship, two drones and two inflatable boats, then put them to sea complete with a crew of technical and medical experts. “No one deserves to die at sea,” reads the Migrant Offshore Aid Station’s call to action.

At sea, MOAS patrols the main smuggling route between Libya and Italy, using its two Schiebel CamCopter S-100 drones (above) to search for migrant-carrying vessels that may be in trouble. Each CamCopter is capable of operating at speeds up to 150mph and can remain aloft for over six hours, making the potential search area huge.

If they find a vessel that may be in need of assistance, MOAS then decides to either respond itself aboard the Phoenix I mothership (above) or call in the Italian Coast Guard if the boat in question is in imminent danger. Those extra eyes in the sky are one of MOAS’s main functions, providing additional search and surveillance capabilities to augment the Coast Guard’s own. Identifying at-risk vessels that may be in need of assistance before their situation becomes critical.

“When a migrant vessel is spotted by one of MOAS’s camcopters, we immediately provide visuals to the appropriate official Rescue Coordination Centre to help ascertain the vessel’s condition and the migrants’ needs,” explains the NGO. “We then assist as directed.”

The Phoenix I’s main mission is distributing humanitarian aid to refugees in-transit: water, food, medical aid and medical supplies. If it finds itself in a position to pull migrants off a sinking ship, MOAS is prepared to and has bring them onboard the Phoenix, but then defers to Italian authorities to decide where those refugees are taken.

“MOAS follows the laws of the sea which oblige all vessels to help in case of distress,” it states. “Thus, MOAS will rescue migrants if it is asked to do so by search and rescue authorities or if the situation is an immediate matter of life or death. But our primary aim is to prevent loss of life at sea, not to ferry migrants from one point to another.”

MOAS is able to liaise closely with authorities in part because it employs ex-government and military officials to run its operation. Its director Martin Xuereb, for instance, was formerly the Chief of Defence for Malta while the ship’s captain was formerly that country’s Search Mission Coordinator. Catrambone himself is a defence contractor, providing medical services and insurance to companies operating in war zones.

[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/120712118[/vimeo]

“There are many larger NGOs trying to reduce poverty and conflict in Africa and beyond,” MOAS explains. “Many also work on integration and asylum once refugees reach Europe. However, at the point where migrants are most vulnerable – when it is a clear matter of life and death – there is an immediate need to act.”

“Last year, 3419 men, women and children died while making the dangerous crossing to Europe…mostly by drowning or dehydration,” the organisations says. During its first 60 days at sea alone, MOAS aided about 3000 people.

Want to help? MOAS relies on donations to supply migrants with emergency rations, water and medical supplies. You can help them buy those supplies through its website.

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Courtesy: Gizmodo

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MOAS

OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine successfully completes the first flight of its Unarmed/Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

KYIV, 23 October 2014 – The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) today successfully completed the maiden flight of its unarmed/unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) before members of the media near Mariupol in eastern Ukraine. The roll-out of the UAV operations in eastern Ukraine will continue Friday with, weather permitting, routine operational flights.
The UAVs, the Schiebel CAMCOPTER® S-100, are being provided, flown and maintained by an Austrian company Schiebel under contract to the OSCE and operated under the authority and direction of the SMM, with the Mission’s monitors in close attendance. The data collected is the property of the OSCE and for the Organization’s use only.

The Mission’s use of its UAVs aims at supporting the fulfilment of its mandate through complementary aerial information-gathering focused on monitoring the general security situation in Ukraine.

The UAVs will also be used for other tasks that are in line with the SMM’s mandate; such as monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the Minsk Protocol of 5 September and the Minsk Memorandum of 19 September 2014.

“The UAVs will enhance existing monitoring capabilities in fulfilment of our mandate in Ukraine,” said Chief Monitor Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan. “They will compliment what our monitors observe on the ground, which will still be our primary source of information gathering.”

Initially, and until further notice, the SMM’s UAV will operate over the area south of Donetsk down to the Sea of Azov, eastwards as far as the Ukrainian-Russian state border and westwards towards the line of contact.

Source: OSCE Media release

 

More Information about OSCE Conflict Prevention and Resolution

Update about OSCE in the Ukraine

Schiebel S-100 CAMCOPTER wins OSCE Ukraine contract

A contract for leased unmanned air vehicle (UAV) services in support of the security mission in Ukraine is expected to be awarded imminently, an industry source reveals.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) recently issued a solicitation for bids which closed on Friday, 25 July. It stipulates the requirement for a turnkey UAV solution for deployment in the conflicted east of the country.

No further details were provided, although it has now been revealed that OSCE is seeking a vertical take-off and landing platform, preferably for round-the-clock monitoring operations, to be operational within weeks.

Vienna-based Schiebel confirms it has responded to the tender with its Camcopter S-100. However, it is unclear whether any other systems have been offered. Saab’s Skeldar UAV would fulfil the requirement, although the company declines to comment on any bid.

“[The solicitation] came out of nowhere. Our understanding is that they want something pretty much now – they don’t want something in a month’s time,” says Chris Day, head of capability engineering at Schiebel.

“Everything appeared very quickly – hopefully we’ll hear something later this week or early next. It wouldn’t make sense to take two weeks reviewing it when they are saying they want something out there in a few weeks’ time,” he adds.

S-100 Camcopter with Thales I-Master SAR

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Source: Flight Global

CAMCOPTER® S-100 GROWING EXPERIENCE AT SEA ONBOAD OF THE OPV L´ADROIT

Vienna, 17 June 2013 – Since the OPV (Offshore Patrol Vessel) L´Adroit was officially made available to the French Navy in October 2011, the CAMCOPTER® S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS) was able to prove its highly efficient maritime capability repeatedly.
The Gowind Class L’Adroit, build by DCNS, has been designed to operate, amongst other capabilities, a UAS, and by installing the appropriate cabling and supporting equipment during build, has been fitted out to operate the maritime proven CAMCOPTER® S-100 from day one. The French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA) purchased a S-100 and qualified its integration aboard L’Adroit in the frame of an experimentation ordered by the French Navy. At the moment the French Navy is the only European Navy capable of operating a UAS VTOL from a surface ship.

CAMCOPTER_S-100_L´ADROIT
Embarked on board the OPV L’Adroit, the CAMCOPTER® S-100 has been operating in the Indian Ocean and Asia. Thanks to S-100, the French Navy has been able to evaluate the contribution of UAS during missions assigned to L’Adroit (preventing illegal practices at sea like terrorism, drug trafficking, illegal fishing and illegal immigration, ensuring maritime safety). Over 120 flight hours and 190 take-offs were conducted since the beginning of 2012, with much more to come in the next two years. The tight integration achieved by DCNS between the ship and the S-100 provides high quality information, alerts and decision aids at any time. This project is unique in Europe and helps the French Navy to understand the movements and actions by potential threats at sea, expanding the area of influence and providing high-definition observation and surveillance in real-time.

Schiebel has taken the experience and knowledge gained from this exciting opportunity of operating the CAMCOPTER® S-100 from OPV L’Adroit, and is now working with world class sensor manufacturers to integrate maritime radar, Electronic Support Measures (ESM) and EO/IR sensors into the S-100 system. This will for the first time, provide maritime commanders with an organic, persistent, ISR capability unparalleled for a UAS
in this class.

CAMCOPTER-S-100 with MX-10

About Schiebel:
Founded in 1951, the Vienna-based Schiebel Group of companies focuses on the development, testing and production of state-of-the-art mine detection equipment and the revolutionary CAMCOPTER® S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS). Schiebel has built an international reputation for producing quality defense and humanitarian products, which are backed by exceptional after-sales service and support. Since 2010 Schiebel offers the new division composite and is able to supply high-tech customers with this high-quality carbon fiber technology. All products are quality-controlled to meet ISO 9001 standards. With headquarters in Vienna (Austria), Schiebel now maintains production facilities in Wiener Neustadt (Austria), and Abu Dhabi (UAE), as well as offices in Washington DC (USA), and Phnom Penh (Cambodia).

About the CAMCOPTER® S-100:

Schiebel’s CAMCOPTER® S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS) is a proven capability for military and civilian applications. The Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) UAS needs no prepared area or supporting launch or recovery equipment. It operates in day and night, under adverse weather conditions, with a beyond line-of-sight capability out to 200 km, both on land and at sea. The S-100 navigates via preprogrammed GPS waypoints or is operated with a pilot control unit. Missions are planned and controlled via a simple point-and-click graphical user interface. High definition payload imagery is transmitted to the control station in real time. Using “fly-by-wire” technology controlled by a triple-redundant flight computer, the UAV can complete its mission automatically. Its carbon fiber and titanium fuselage provides capacity for a wide range of payload/endurance combinations up to a service ceiling of 18,000 ft. In its standard configuration, the CAMCOPTER® S-100 carries a 75 lbs/34 kg payload up to 10 hours and is powered with AVGas or heavy fuel.

Source: Press Release