Hawk interface


Hawk Ground Control Station

The Hawk Ground Control Station is the graphical user interface (GUI) for all aspects of the UAV command and control process. At the centre of the GCS is the Hawk GCS software, which provides a streamlined and intuitive interface to the operator.


  • Live command and control connection with UAV allowing in-flight changes.
  • Live telemetry downlink for situational awareness
  • Mission planning system with waypoint pre-designation and/or dynamic (inflight) waypoint designation and control with 3D terrain route checking.
  • Graphical map display using NZ map grid or ArcGIS mapping standards.
  • Flight Mode selection from manual to fully autonomous.
  • Terrain aware camera footprint.
  • Mission replay.
  • Fully integrated link to UAS vision module for target designation and tracking.
  • Camera pan, tilt, zoom and stabilisation control.
  • Full data output to third party Command and Control link.
  • Wind speed estimation and return range limit displays.
  • Contact database with 'lock-on' for both UAV positioning and camera geo-pointing.
  • Multiple waypoint orbit modes (overfly, orbit, etc)
  • Dual display for dead reckoning mode (used for counter-countermeasures).
  • Automatic route checking and real time terrain collision detection.
  • Multiple GCS handovers, moving ground station support with aircraft cueing.
  • No fly-zone display mode.
  • Aircraft track history display.
  • Seamless integration package.
  • Audio (verbal) alarm system for problem detection and system health monitoring.
  • Beyond line of sight operation (for pre-programmed sensing/photography).


The hardware for the GCS is widely variable and can be customized to the needs of the operator.  Skycam UAV has a great deal of experience in the construction of custom GCS units.  We can source all or some of the components for you.

Let us use our experience and knowledge to make a system that's right for you.

GCS yellow case

A custom, compact GCS built for Queensland University

Required Hardware

This is a list of the components that must be included in the GCS for operation.  Included are Skycam's recommendations based on our experiences.

  •  A Windows machine (usually a laptop) capable of running the software.  Skycam recommends the Panasonic Toughbook CF-31 for it's ruggedization and especially for the daylight viewable monitor.  See more information here (links away from this site)
  • GCS data modem compatable with the aircraft's modem.  We recomment the Freewave MM2
  • Suitable antennae and cables
  • A hand controller.  Skycam has had success with the RealFlight controller and XBox 360 controllers for Windows


Optional hardware

Depending on the operating conditions and mission profiles, some of the following may be required.  Skycam can advise you on what equipment would suit your situation best.

  • Video receiver system.  Skycam has a number of different video systems from small, light-weight analogue systems (lower range and quality) to larger, but far more capable, digital system.
  • Video viewing aparatus.  A video signal can be routed to any compatable viewing system from a conventional TV monitor to a set of goggles.
  • Video recording/capture devices for digitizing live video feeds
  • Vision module software/hardware.  A sophisticated piece of software that can perform live video mosaicing and camera control functions.  Depending on your needs, the Vision Module may need to run on a separate laptop.
  • GPS and/or annemomete.  Useful for making on-site measurements of conditions.
  • A case or pack in which to house the equipment.  Skycam recommends Pelican cases, or similar, for their tough construction.



This Hawk Ground Control Station (GCS) is an advanced, mission-planning, command-and-control system that was designed specifically to interface with the Hawk APS.

The GCS and the UAV combined form an unmanned aerial system (UAS).  UAS operations are not possible without both components and as such, as much though goes into GCS implementation as goes into aircraft design.

The GCS software interface has been designed to abstract the process of controlling a particular airframe.  Any UAV running the Hawk APS is displayed in the same way in this interface, thus reducing training and currency burdens on operators.

The interface is only as complex as you need it to be.  If point-and-click navigation is all you need then this can be done on the map window.  If you need 15 specific transects of an area with geo-referenced photos being taken every 1.47 seconds, you can do that too with only a few keystrokes.   

The NZ Defence Force has extensively trialled the auto pilot and GCS system.