Insitu has extended a previously awarded contract to provide services for ScanEagle unmanned aircraft system (UAS) that will be installed on an unspecified number of Royal Australian Navy (RAN) vessels.
Insitu Pacific managing director Andrew Duggan said: "The Australian Army has successfully operated ScanEagle for more than 45,000 hours in support of land operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Insitu Pacific now looks forward to showing the true versatility and effectiveness of this system as a proven maritime capability in support of the RAN."
Under the contract extension, Insitu will support flight trials of the UAS on a frigate, scheduled to take place in September.
Bob Ferry, RAN UAS development project manager lieutenant commander, said that the trials were expected to examine the issues affecting an embarked UAS capability for RAN, as well as determining the requirements for installation onboard the vessels.
"The RAN's endorsed Aviation vision, NA2020, is to have a UAS dedicated unit by 2020, and these embarked UAS trials are an important step towards Navy achieving that vision," Ferry said.
Capable of operating independently, the UAS will provide unprecedented, over-the-horizon surveillance and intelligence information to the ship's commander.
The UAS can also work in conjunction with embarked rotary wing assets on maritime vessels, including large amphibious ships and small multi-role vessels, which do not have a helicopter deck or hangar storage space.
With a range of 1,500km, the air vehicle can cruise at a speed of 90km/h and achieve a maximum altitude of 16,000ft while in level flight.
The ScanEagle UAS is currently in service with other navies worldwide to provide support for anti-piracy operations and has achieved over 25,000 flight hours from ships.
Image: ScanEagle UAS set for launch. Photo: courtesy of gunnery sergeant Shannon Arledge of the 2nd marine aircraft wing.