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Australia uses Sky Ranger UAS for targeting support for first time

R70 Sky Ranger UAS
An R70 Sky Ranger UAS operated by No. 3 Security Forces Squadron. Photo: Australian defense ministry

The Australian armed forces have used for the first time a small unmanned aerial system (UAS) to provide targeting support for Australian Army ASLAV armored vehicles.

The Sky Ranger UAS was part of an exercise that took place at the Cultana Training Area in South Australia from October 23 to 30.

The No. 3 Security Forces Squadron (3SECFOR) used the multi-rotor unmanned aerial system (MRUAS) to provide security with a portable and rapidly deployable intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability in support of air power.

The joint activities at Cultana proved the Sky Ranger is also capable of providing range safety and target acquisition support to Army’s Australian Light Armoured Vehicle (ASLAV) regiments.

MRUAS cell section commander Leading Aircraftman Rhys Mitting was responsible for liaising with 1st Armoured Regiment to identify and execute ways the Sky Ranger could be used.

“We used the Sky Ranger to clear the live-fire trace area in about a quarter of the time it would’ve normally taken a land-based vehicle,” Leading Aircraftman Mitting said.

To boost its endurance, the Sky Ranger can be deployed with a tether kit with a micro-cable providing power, allowing round-the-clock operation.

“Utilising the tether, we were able to provide 1st Armoured Regiment with continuous target identification support for multiple mission sets, identifying ground targets ranging from 1000 to 3000 metres away,” Leading Aircraftman Mitting said.

“The Sky Ranger provided the ASLAV crews with precision targeting support for their static and moving shoots, and this resulted in better scoring across the board.

“By the end, 3SECFOR successfully demonstrated that our system could provide 1st Armoured Regiment with a highly valuable, capability-enhancing edge on the battlefield.”

“Air Force’s MRUAS capability has been developed and trialed by 3SECFOR in South Australia for the past three years,” Leading Aircraftman Mitting said.

“The successful integration of 3SECFOR’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance system with 1st Armoured Regiment has opened up new opportunities for our team to work alongside armoured regiments and other land-based elements in the future.

Commander of Combat Support Group Air Commodore Veronica Tyler praised members of 3SECFOR for their efforts.

“Following a year of operational, test and evaluation by 3SECFOR, Combat Support Group is looking forward to embracing and employing the R70 Sky Ranger MRUAS to enhance our national support base and expeditionary intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability,” she said.