Air Platforms

Australia clears heavy fuel variant of S-100 UAV for shipborne evaluations

28 March 2018
An S-100 UAV, seen here in the Royal Australian Navy livery. Source: Schiebel

Key Points

  • The Royal Australian Navy will soon begin shipborne evaluations of the S-100 unmanned aerial system
  • Evaluations aim to further inoculate the service with advanced shipborne rotor-wing UAV deployment concepts

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has completed a series of verifications to validate the Schiebel S-100 Camcopter rotor-winged unmanned aerial system’s (UAS’) suitability for further shipborne evaluations.

The verifications have been done in pursuit of Australia’s Navy Minor Project (NMP) 1942 programme, which seeks to equip the RAN with an interim shipborne vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAS capability.

As revealed to Jane’s at the Pacific 2017 exhibition in Sydney, the RAN currently operates a single aviation gasoline-powered S-100 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which is being deployed by Navy UAS Unit (NUU) at HMAS Albatross for initial evaluation purposes.

However, the unit, which is provided on loan from Schiebel while awaiting delivery and evaluation of heavy fuel variants of the S-100, is limited to ground based trials only as it is powered by a low flashpoint fuel.

During its verifications, the JP-5 heavy fuel-powered S-100 UAVs demonstrated their ability to operate at ranges of up to 60 n miles, and at altitudes above 10,000 ft, while delivering imagery from an attached Wescam MX-10s payload. The verifications were conducted at the Jervis Bay Airfield facilities in the state of New South Wales, said Schiebel.

With the verifications complete, the RAN is expected to now conduct further shipborne evaluations of the S-100 from its surface vessels under various at-sea operational scenarios, although no further details on what ship types will be involved are available.

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