Integrating Unmanned Aerial Vehicles into surveillance systems in complex maritime environments
Lucas, Thomas W.
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One of the most important missions all Navies have is to constantly and sufficiently monitor their area of responsibility. This task becomes more challenging when a surveillance system operates in a complex environment with high traffic of merchant and fishing vessels and the existence of many islands. Potential tactics that targets might use increase the difficulty of this task. Integrating Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) into a surveillance system that consists of ground radars and surface ships might enhance the systems capabilities and mitigate its vulnerabilities. In this study, the extremely complex maritime environment of the Aegean Sea is modeled in the Map Aware Non Uniform Automata (MANA) agent-based simulation environment to explore the effectiveness of UAVs in those conditions. The results from almost 100,000 simulated Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance missions are analyzed using descriptive statistics, ANOVA, stepwise regression, and partition trees. It was found that by integrating one or two UAVs into a traditional surveillance system, it becomes more efficient in the detection and persistent surveillance of enemies and neutral targets. The most important factors that affect the surveillance systems performance are the detection capabilities of its sensors, the communication accuracy, and the enemys counter-detection capability. Thus, Greece and other countries with similar geographical characteristics should deploy UAVs in a maritime surveillance role.
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