GSM 4000 Open Skies – A custom-made Mount for one of the most modern reconnaissance aircraft in the world

Together with our partners from IGI - Integrated Geospatial Innovations and ESG Elektroniksystem- und Logistik-GmbH, SOMAG AG Jena manufactured a custom-made GSM - the GSM 4000 Open Skies on behalf of the German Federal Armed Forces. Since this Gyro Mount has to meet the specific requirements of the aviation industry, various modifications and adaptions were made to our standard GSM 4000 device.

The following adjustments were made:

  • The internal wiring, which previously consisted of various materials, was replaced by PTFE wiring in order to reduce flammability.
  • The previous brush motors were replaced by brushless motors to eliminate the risk of brush fire.
  • Moreover, three temperature sensors were mounted on each motor of the Mount to prevent overheating.
  • To ensure electromagnetic compatibility, the motor cables were shielded and a metal mesh fabric was attached to the outside of the Mount to minimize electromagnetic emission.
  • In addition, adjustments were made to the latch design. They offer the advantage to lift the mount from one side in order to access the payload from below and to refix the mount in its regular position. Due to the difficult accessibility of the latches at the installation location, they were redesigned in such a way that they can be unlocked and locked using an Alley key.
  • Last but not least we applied a special paint job for this project and re-enforced parts of the vibration isolation ring to meet the extended environmental tests.

Due to the requirements placed on the Mount, this project, which was completed over a period of one and a half years, was a particularly challenging task, which we gladly accepted. Thus, this order not only contributed to the technical development of our device, but also to the professional development of the employees involved.

Statement Sebastian Schreiber - CTO, SOMAG AG Jena

"We are proud and fortune to be part of this impressive and challenging project. Special thanks goes to our development partners IGI and ESG Elektroniksystem- und Logistik-GmbH which supported us with new insights and special tasks which improved our knowledge especially from an EMC point of view. We worked hard to successfully meet all requirements of our contractors and we are delighted to see the Mounts integrated in the new mission aircraft."

Statement David Franz - Technical Project Lead, ESG Elektroniksystem und Logistik-GmbH

"It was a pleasure to work hand in hand with the team of SOMAG AG Jena. The support was great and necessary changes were always seen as engineering challenges, which needed to be solved. All requirements were fulfilled to our satisfaction."

Project Background

A former business jet, an Airbus A 319, was converted into one of the world's most modern observation aircraft on behalf of the German Federal Armed Forces. The aircraft will be in service from 2020 under the Open Skies Treaty. Signed March 24, 1992 the treaty allows the currently 34 States Parties to conduct reconnaissance flights over the territories of the others on fixed routes and to take photographs, radar and infrared pictures. This is a confidence-building measure with maximum transparency. The agreement is an important pillar of arms control in the OSCE area with the aim of securing peace.

The conversion and system integration took place under the leadership of Lufthansa Technik AG at the Lufthansa base in Hamburg. Together with numerous industrial partners, the aircraft was initially completly overhauled and subsequently received more than 150 modifications. Extensive conversion work was performed on the fuselage to install a digital infrared sensor and digital optical camera systems for three different flight altitudes. Vibrations and movements of the integrated camera technology will be compensated by the stabilization technology of SOMAG AG Jena on future Open Sky flights.

Adjustments were also made to the aircraft cabin. Among other things, the cabin was equipped with operating stations for the observation team as well as additional seats for the staff of the overflown state party as well as the staff of partner nations. In addition, maintenance flaps and access doors were installed throughout  the cabin to ensure easy access to the systems. Once accredited by the Member States, the A 319 can be rent by other countries for mission flights. In addition to its projected function, the aircraft can also be used for medical and military passenger transport.

More information about the aircraft conversion.

The TV report of the ceremonial handover can be viewed here (only in German).

Open Skies: An aircraft that changes the perspective on the world

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