The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has revealed plans to deliver maritime tactical uninhabited aerial systems (MTUAS) capabilities to every major fleet unit.
The MTUAS capability involves an air vehicle, control stations and people to operate and maintain them.
The Australian Navy fleet units to be integrated with the MTUAS will range from the future offshore patrol vessel to future surface combatants, including support vessels and large-deck amphibious ships.
In order to carry out the project, the Australian Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group has conducted an analysis of integration options for effectively incorporating a UAS capability into the marine environment.
DST conducted a two-stage experimental study that was designed to evaluate the physical integration of UAS crew into command spaces and integration of data from the UAS into the vessel’s combat management system.
Australian Defence scientist Dr Susan Cockshell said: “This experiment allowed us to study the implications of UAS operators being isolated from or co-located with the commander and/or picture compiler by actually performing the tasks that would need to be done.
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“Short of doing the real thing at sea, this is the best way for us to truly understand the type of maritime UAS integration that needs to be delivered to the Navy.”
Carried out last year, the first set of planned trials called Exercise Sky Kraken was conducted to assess the integration of UASs and the various combat systems across the surface fleet of the Australian Navy.
DST collaborated with industry partners CAE, AVTol, SimSol, and Consilium to work jointly to develop a simulation system that was suitable for the purpose of the trial.
As its next step, it intends to extend the scope of the simulation in order to study the integration of an uninhabited air vehicle into a surface task group, with an enhanced capability that includes radar and electronic warfare sensors in addition to electro-optical.