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Indo Pacific 2022: Australia begins trials of Oceanwatch payload on S-100 UAVs

A mock-up of the S-100 Camcopter, seen at Indo Pacific 2022 with the PT-8N Oceanwatch sensor (forward) and the MX-10 electro-optical turret. (Janes/Ridzwan Rahmat)

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has equipped its S-100 Camcopter rotor-wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with the PT-8 Oceanwatch sensor payload.

A representative from the RAN's 822X Squadron who spoke to Janes at the Indo Pacific 2022 exhibition in Sydney confirmed that the payload has been mounted in addition to the UAV's existing Wescam MX-10 electro-optical infrared turret.

The PT-8 Oceanwatch is an optical-based passive radar system that autonomously detects anomalies between consecutive images captured. Should there be an anomaly, the operator would be alerted by the Oceanwatch system who can subsequently activate the MX-10 sensors for further verifications on whether it is indeed an object of interest, said the 822X Squadron representative.

The S-100 Camcopter's manufacturer, Schiebel, first disclosed in 2018 that it had successfully integrated the PT-8 Oceanwatch system on the UAVs. Further verifications by Janes with industry sources at Indo Pacific 2022 confirm that the variant that has been mounted on the RAN's S-100s is the PT-8N, which has been optimised for night-time operations.

In early May 2022 the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) disclosed that it has selected the S-100 Camcopter for Block One of the Sea 129 Phase 5 programme, which seeks to equip the RAN with land-based and shipborne UAVs.

Trials of the PT-8 Oceanwatch-equipped UAVs are ongoing aboard the Anzac-class guided-missile frigate, HMAS Ballarat , and there are plans to qualify the aircraft on other ship classes including the Arafura-class offshore patrol vessels and the Canberra-class amphibious assault ships.

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