Patrick Durrant | Sydney
Recently ADM reviewed both the Fire Scout and Skeldar offerings for Navy Minor Project 1942 (Maritime Tactical UAS – Interim Capability). Another contender which offers the advantage of proven capabilities with a minimum physical, logistics and manpower footprint – a necessity when sharing a hangar with manned aircraft – is the Schiebel Camcopter S-100.
Director Unmanned Systems Australia and representative for Schiebel of Austria Phil Swinsburg told ADM the Camcopter S-100 system is a proven, low risk, and already in service with a number of navies and land forces in nine countries.
“The system has been in production for ten years, and it’s in service with a number of armed forces, including the French and Italian navies,” Swinsburg said.
The system has also been flying in the Ukraine for the past two years on a lease based option with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), monitoring the security situation in the Ukraine.
“That’s a high threat, heavily congested jamming environment, with a GPS-denied airspace coupled with small arms and rocket fire,” Swinsburg said. “The hostile environment of operations is a proven capability for us and it’s something that’s certainly lacking in other competitors.”
The S-100 is a proven multi-sensored system, which demonstrated to the Navy in June last year that it could operate with an Electro Optical Infra Red (EO/IR) camera, Automatic Identification System (AIS) and ADS-B transponders, Electronic Support Measures (ESM) as well as a Synthetic Aperture Radar.
“We’ve also just rolled out a new sensor management software suite which will allow us to link a number of sensors together, such as EO/IR, AIS and Maritime radar, that will allow navy to really enhance their level of sensor operations, without having to increase the number of shipboard personnel,” Swinsburg said. An extra capability on the horizon is an expansion of our maritime radar capability as well as vision based tracking software to complement the usual day/night camera.
The S-100 has a rotor diameter of 3.4 metres making it considerably smaller than its competitors, enabling a much lower deck footprint and overall lower storage requirement, without any loss in capability. The aircraft was designed with legs rather than skids and according to Swinsburg they provide an almost unobstructed view of the search area.
“The Navy has asked for a containerised system so this is what we are offering – a 20-foot container which will contain two of our aircraft plus the control station and everything else the system would need to operate while embarked for a period of up to six months,” Swinsburg said.
The system can be deployed rapidly and Swinsburg said once the container was dockside the Camcopter could be flying from the ship within four hours.
“With the 20 foot container setup on the ship, we can have the system transition from inactive/holding area mode to fully operational and flying within 15 minutes and this includes mission planning,” Swinsburg said.
The system offers a range of 60 nautical miles with a full 360-degree coverage around the ship for a period of up to six hours. It can also operate out to 100 plus miles with a long range data link system.
With a fuselage only 60 cm wide Swinsburg said the S-100 was a complementary asset to a manned aviation system and it could easily share space set aside for its manned counterparts if required.
“It’s the only VTOL system that will fit beside a MH60R Seahawk in the single ANZAC hangar – from there we can then substantially enhance the surveillance capability of that manned asset.
When the Romeos’ endurance of about three hours was coupled with the S-100’s six hours, Swinsburg said commanding officers would have at least 9 hours of surveillance capability at their disposal.
“We can provide a continuous 12 -18 hours of coverage per day which means the crew of the Romeo can be held in reserve for the high threat work, while we carry out the routine maritime search and verification missions.”
Note: Since the original article appeared ADM can confirm that the Fire Scout is too large for the requirement and will not be part of the bidding field.