• ScanEagle launched from a US Navy vessel. Credit: USN
    ScanEagle launched from a US Navy vessel. Credit: USN

The RAN has procured a license for Sentient’s Kestrel Maritime ViDAR wide area maritime detection software.

The software is designed to be incorporated into a purpose built ViDAR payload that can be modularly applied to the existing Block D Scan Eagle currently being flown by the Navy as part of wider UAS trial program.

“Kestrel Maritime ViDAR has the potential to be game changing for Naval UAS operations,” Simon Olsen, Sentient's Director of Business Development, Strategy and Partnerships said.

“Small payload capacity and limited bandwidth restrict tactical UAS to primarily provide surveillance over objects of interest that have already been detected.

“Typically detection of objects in the ocean requires manned aircraft with much greater payload capacity – aircraft which are often expensive to operate and deploy.

“Kestrel Maritime ViDAR now gives a UAS like the Scan Eagle the crucial capability to search as well as to conduct surveillance, dramatically increasing its usefulness to the RAN,” Olsen said.

“The Navy is looking at the Kestrel Maritime ViDAR trials to potentially support, among other systems, wide area maritime surveillance,”Captain Allen Whittaker, RAN, said.

Insitu Pacific Ltd will be trialling the Kestrel Maritime ViDAR payload for the RAN as a part of their support to ongoing Navy UAS experimentation activity.

“ViDAR provides a critical point of difference for the Scan Eagle UAS enabling it to now scan significant areas autonomously in both blue water and littoral environments,” Andrew Duggan, IPL's Managing Director, said.

ScanEagle has been flying another version of Kestrel for land missions since its ADF time in Afghanistan.

The Kestrel system is also in service with the USN on the FireScout platform.

Kestrel has been in use with the ADF on various platforms for some time now with the system first appearing in 2011.

Keep an eye out for the October edition of ADM that examines what Navy is up to in the UAS space.

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