OPALE (Optional Piloted Surveillance and Reconnaissance System), produced in cooperation with Rheinmetall Defence, was deployed together with the German air force during the experimental exercise “Trial Quest” within the scope of the NATO maneuver Bold Avenger in Oerland/Norway.
A total of thirteen nations participated in this year’s largest NATO air exercise. OPALE was deployed within the experimental exercise “Trial Quest” for reconnaissance and delivered the acquired sensor data in real time to the ground based control stations. In particular this included images and video material as well as analyzed results and military command information. During the exercise convoys, civilian vehicles, concealed buildings, presumed weapon smugglers, kidnappings and troop movements could be recorded and monitored. Due to the real time input of image data obtained into the NATO data infrastructure, the military users were able to evaluate reconnaissance results both on a local as well as global level. The data was utilized at the exercise location in Rena, but also in the more distant Oerland as well as in Molesworth in England and Langley/USA. OPALE also provided excellent reconnaissance results through interplay with other system units deployed during the exercise.
Installation of the SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) sensor PicoSAR by Selex extended the OPALE configuration by a weather independent component. In this configuration OPALE was successfully deployed in the Fusion Experiment 2007 that followed “Trial Quest”.
Overall OPALE was convincing through its real time quality and effectiveness in information acquisition as well as the robustness and reliability of the utilized components. The interoperability with other systems was also successfully demonstrated. The combination of electro-optical sensor and weather independent SAR sensor make OPALE into an ideal reconnaissance instrument that is also perfectly suited for long range missions. The flexible platform is also planned to be deployed as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in future.