CRONUS conundrum

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satcom
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CRONUS conundrum

Postby satcom » October 24th, 2015, 5:31 am

https://www.thalesgroup.com/en/worldwide/defence/press-release/thaless-watchkeeper-achieves-another-first-aviation-history
Thales’s Watchkeeper achieves another first in aviation history October 15, 2015

When I first saw this release I looked at the screen image and decided to try and match it up to our data for the day.
Having trawled through mounds of info I eventually came up with a match at 1106 GMT on the 30th.

All the traffic was there , but no CRONUS.

It wasn't until later that I checked the video and , low and behold , there was the mission clock showing , 1106....could have saved myself a lot of time had I seen that first :(

Watchkeepers have been popping up using Mode S for months over Boscombe and the Welsh coast using various "tactical" codes and occasionally
the call "ARIES".

Not until the last couple of days has "CRONUS" appeared.

So , here's the puzzle which I hope the ATCO members of the group can solve for me.....

Assuming that the airframes are mode S and possibly TCAS equipped , which certainly seems to be the case as far as Mode S is concerned , why would you risk putting a UAS into controlled airspace with Mode S turned off ?

Of course they could have spoofed an ICAO/HEX for the mission , but there are no UNID codes in that area at that time at that altitude.

So there we have it , I'm puzzled as to why such a mission would be carried out Mode A/C only.
I can only think that the info in the release might be a mock up of what happened , perhaps on a different day and the CRONUS
plot has been introduced for cosmetic/media reasons.............or it was simply operating Mode A/C only.

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Re: CRONUS conundrum

Postby DaveReid » October 24th, 2015, 7:21 am

Assuming that the airframes are mode S and possibly TCAS equipped , which certainly seems to be the case as far as Mode S is concerned , why would you risk putting a UAS into controlled airspace with Mode S turned off ?

Is it possible that it was responding only to TCAS interrogations, and not to Mode S ones?

That, combined with Mode A/C, would mitigate any risk associated with flying in controlled airspace - controllers could see it on radar, complete with ID and altitude, which should be all they need.

It's also likely, of course, that it was sending all sorts of other telemetry that we know nothing about.

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satcom
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Re: CRONUS conundrum

Postby satcom » October 24th, 2015, 8:30 am

Other articles certainly suggest CRONUS was not fitted with detect and avoid equipment...but maybe you are right about the TCAS / Mode A/C idea Dave.
The lack of detect and avoid equipment led to the demise of Eurohawk a couple of years ago , which as far as I recall had been flying through , if not "in" controlled airspace for months.

Having said that it seems strange to operate a UAS over a relatively safe environment such as Boscombe zone with Mode S swiched on , then take it to a rather more hostile area such as controlled airspace , and turn it off.

As regards other telemetry , then yes I agree ,in addition to line of sight links they would have had 5ghz COFDM SECA video downlinks running together with
possible sat relays via SkyNet .

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Re: CRONUS conundrum

Postby bones » October 24th, 2015, 9:36 am

I would be interested to know just how many aircraft on the civil register have Mode S fitted. Certainly most AOC Operators do now but drop down into Executive and General Aviation and I think the ratio is very low. Only two of the 30+ aircraft based here have Mode S and are in our controlled airspace at some time during their flight. As radar software allows us to assign a callsign to a squawk we still get that and altitude on screen, and that is enough for most circumstances. It's a lot better than primary radar data but that remains the fallback should the Mode S radar system go down..

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Re: CRONUS conundrum

Postby satcom » October 24th, 2015, 11:22 am

The FT article here throws a little more light on things...

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2c7870de-7348-11e5-a129-3fcc4f641d98.html#axzz3pT9fzYud

although I'm not sure about the claim about it being a world first , both Ikhana and Eurohawk have done similar and there have been daily sorties across the Med and elsewhere by Global Hawks and Predators for years....mind you after climb out the latter sit at FL550 for hours on end

The article also confirms no "Detect and avoid" is fitted. on Watchkeeper.
[ I believe the latter has been on test since last year in the Irish Sea area from Warton aboard the Jetstream test bed , but , they have a team in the back office keeping check on things.]


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