The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has awarded Austrian unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) developer Schiebel a three-year extension contract to sustain the service’s fleet of S-100 Camcopter rotary wing UASs.
The company said in a 26 July statement that the new contract will enable the RAN to continue developing operational concepts and experimenting with UAS operations using the S-100.
The contract covers field support services, engineering, and logistics services, as well as the introduction of a training capability that is specific for the RAN’s requirements.
The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) selected the S-100 Camcopter UAS for evaluation and experimentation under the RAN’s Navy Minor Project (NMP) 1942 programme in 2016.
The service subsequently commissioned a new unit, 822X Squadron, in Nowra was October 2018 to gain operational experience with a maritime UAS for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions and has operated the S-100 Camcopter equipped with S2 heavy fuel engines and the fixed-wing Boeing-Insitu ScanEagle.
NMP 1942 is aimed at equipping the service with an interim shipborne vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAS for experimentation, with the longer-term goal of fielding a mature UAS capability for its current and future naval surface combatants – such as the Anzac-class frigates and Hobart-class air warfare destroyers as well as the future Arafura-class offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) and Hunter-class frigates – under Project Sea129 Phase 5.
The S-100 Camcopter has a maximum take-off weight of 200 kg and a typical payload of 50 kg including fuel and sensors. It can operate for up to six hours out to a maximum range of around 200 km, although endurance can be extended with an external fuel tank.
Other known S-100 UAV customers in the Asia Pacific region include Malaysia, South Korea, and most recently Thailand. Schiebel announced in November 2019 that it had won a competitive tender to supply the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) with an undisclosed number of the S-100 platform, noting that the air vehicles will be deployed by the RTN for shore- and ship-based ISR operations.