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Australian frigate starts S-100 UAV trials

S-100 aboard HMAS Ballarat
Photo: Royal Australian Navy

Royal Australian Navy Anzac-class frigate HMAS Ballarat has embarked the Schiebel-built S-100 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for flight trials off the Eastern coast of Australia.

Personnel from Navy’s 822X Squadron and test specialists from the Aircraft Maintenance and Flight Trials Unit (AMAFTU) embarked Ballarat to collect data on how the 200 kilogram UAV can be launched and retrieved at sea.

Trial director, Lieutenant Commander Chris Broadbent, said the trials were an important part of learning how to combine the payload capacity of the S-100 Camcopter with the warfare capabilities of the 118-meter long Anzac-class frigate.

“The deployment of unmanned systems at sea will become a more common theme in modern maritime warfare, especially with the advent and continued development of artificial intelligence and robotic or autonomous systems,” Lieutenant Commander Hamilton said.

“The introduction of unmanned aviation operations at sea is a paradigm shift for navy and it will enable us to detect threats at greater ranges and better defend our ships and give us enhanced situational awareness,” 822X Squadron Flight Commander, Lieutenant Michael Mulquiney said.

“S-100 Camcopter is capable of vertical take-off and landing while carrying multiple payloads simultaneously.

“It can fly for up to several hours at a time and reach a maximum speed in excess of 100km/h.”

The Australian Navy acquired the S-100 in late 2016 to broaden its understanding of VTOL UAS. The system was accepted into navy service in April 2018. The system is operated by the 822X Squadron that was commissioned in 2018 and is based at HMAS Albatross near Nowra.