Class I UAVs play a major role in modern military operations and provide added value to armed forces, as has been demonstrated many times, e.g., by using them in Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) or Search and Rescue (SAR) missions. In addition, UAVs can provide immediate air support to ground forces, making them to a force multiplier.
The Ukraine conflict can be used as a relevant and current example to underline the relevance of Tactical Drones in Rain and Icing Conditions (TDRIC). However, the war in Ukraine makes one thing very clear: drones have a place in modern warfare, and any military that wants to achieve its battlefield objectives must pay attention to them. Hence, UAVs especially used by the armed forces need to be able to perform reliable in all situations as intended and have a high operational availability. The potential severity of weather phenomena, especially rain and icing conditions, on the operation of Class I UAVs is an area where little research has been conducted and a knowledge gap is present.
Therefore, the first top-level goal of TDRIC is to determine and quantify the effects of defined rain and icing conditions on Class I UAVs in details. Thereby providing relevant information to the European armed forces about the impact on the operational availability for better mission planning and situational awareness. The second top-level goal of the TDRIC is to design UAVs resilient to rain and icing conditions, equipped with novel detection and protection technology going beyond the state of the art to increase the operational capabilities significantly. The aim is to create a basis for the unrestricted use of Class I UAVs in adverse weather conditions. Third top-level goal of TDRIC is the further development of ground-based climatic test capabilities, as well as the elaboration of standardized procedures for the investigation of Class I UAVs.