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Indo Pacific 2022: Australia outlines plans to operate 12 S-100 flights across four ship types

The S-100 Camcopter, which is in service with the Royal Australian Navy, is seen here at Indo Pacific 2022. (Janes/Ridzwan Rahmat)

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has outlined a plan to operate up to 12 S-100 Camcopter flights across four ship types as part of an initial programme to equip the service with wider rotary-wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capabilities.

Speaking to Janes at the Indo Pacific 2022 exhibition, a representative from the RAN's 822X Squadron explained that a flight comprises between one and two S-100 UAV units, and its associated supporting equipment and crew.

The flights will be operated across the service's 12 Arafura-class offshore patrol vessels (OPVs), the two Canberra-class amphibious assault ships, the aviation training vessel MV Sycamore, and the eight in-service Anzac (Meko 200)-class frigates.

The S-100 will be operated from all RAN vessels that feature a flight deck, the representative told Janes. However, at the moment there is no projected timeline as to when the 12 flights will be incorporated onto the various vessel types, although trials of the S-100 have commenced on one of the Anzac-class frigate, HMAS Ballarat, the representative added.

In early May 2022 the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) disclosed that it has selected Schiebel's S-100 Camcopter for Block One of the Sea 129 Phase 5 programme to acquire a maritime unmanned aircraft system (MUAS) for the RAN.

The service had initially operated three S-100 units under Navy Minor Project 1942, which seeks to imbue the RAN with initial capabilities associated with rotor-wing UAV operations. These examples were equipped with the MX-10 electro-optical infrared turret, an automatic identification system, an L3Harris Bandit tri-band transceiver, and a Mode-S ADS-B transponder.

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