Airbus demos ground-based operation of C295 FITS mission system

Airbus has successfully concluded a flight test campaign featuring a new capability for the C295 FITS mission system (COMMOMISS), which enables it to be remotely operated by ground-based crews.

The company announced on May 4 that the campaign, carried out in April over the south of Spain, covered four flights and involved the use of an Airbus C295 intelligence, surveillance and recognition (ISR) testbed. The platform was equipped with an avionics package from Collins Aerospace.

The aircraft performed standard maritime patrol missions, with all sensors onboard being controlled in near real-time by a mission operator based at a ground station at Airbus’ facility in Getafe, Spain. Sensor control was successfully handed over to the ground control station, with different surveillance tasks, including electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) pointing control and radar management being controlled by ground crew using the installed Ka-band satellite communications (SATCOM).

C295 COMMOMISS [Airbus]
An Airbus graphic depiction of the C295 FITS mission system (COMMOMISS). Airbus

During the tests, the ground operator’s situational awareness was complete, sharing the same set of tools and apps available in the onboard Fully Integrated Tactical System (FITS) workstations, transforming the COMMOMISS ground station into an effective additional operator’s node. Among its capabilities, COMMOMISS will provide users with:

  • Additional operator’s nodes in the Mission Support Centre on the ground, providing operational flexibility in long and complex missions and sharing tasks between airborne and ground tactical crew members.
  • Integration with the operators command and control (C2) network, contributing to the generation of the Common Operational Picture.
  • Immediate access to all data gathered by onboard sensors for real-time analysis with almost unlimited resources available on the ground.
  • The possibility to reduce the number of operators (and thus workstations) onboard the aircraft in persistent surveillance missions.

Airbus believes COMMOMISS will pave the way for the future of airborne tactical mission systems, allowing a harmonised mission system architecture, human-machine interface (HMI) and concept of operations (CONOPS) for both manned and unmanned air vehicles, as well as fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft.

The company says it supports a seamless integration into the overall system-of-systems, providing global situational awareness to operators and contributing to the generation of the Common Operational Picture (COP) in the context of ISR missions. The hardware required to implement this new capability will be available for new customers interested in the C295 ISR, which means that the capacities of the COMMOMISS could be available for any customer from now on, either as a catalogue option or as growth potential.