The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has commissioned an unmanned aircraft squadron during a ceremony at HMAS Albatross naval air station.

Commissioning of the new 822X Squadron will help strengthen the RAN’s capability to operate unmanned aerial systems (UASs) in the maritime area.

During the ceremony, the Naval Unmanned Aircraft Systems Unit (NUASU) was officially transitioned to 822X Squadron, making it the fourth operational group in the navy’s aviation group Fleet Air Arm.

RAN chief of navy vice-admiral Michael Noonan said: “Autonomous systems are becoming increasingly important, with unmanned systems soon being deployed to every operational theatre, and 822X Squadron will realise the full potential these technologies present.

“Autonomous systems are becoming increasingly important and 822X Squadron will realise the full potential these technologies present.”

“This is the first time the squadron number 822 will be used by a navy squadron. The X indicates the developmental nature of the squadron and the motto of 822X Squadron is ‘See the Enemy’.

“Over the past decade, modern militaries have embraced the strategic and tactical advantages offered by operating unmanned platforms, typically used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.”

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With the commissioning, the unmanned aircraft squadron will be responsible for operating the small, long-endurance, low-altitude Insitu ScanEagle unmanned aircraft and the Schiebel S-100 Camcopter UAS, which can carry payloads such as electro-optics and infrared sensors.

RAN 822X Squadron commanding officer commander Michael Rainey said: “We will be working with fleet and Australian Defence Force units to use this technology to enhance our UAS capability.

“While there are no people in the airframe, present levels of autonomy in UAS necessitates the well trained professionals on parade today to safely and effectively operate the system.”