The Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) Anzac Class frigate, HMAS Ballarat, and an S-100 Camcopter Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) have conducted flight trials.

The test focused on the launch and retrieval of the 200kg S-100 Camcopter UAV at sea. It was conducted off the Eastern coast of Australia.

RAN’s 822X Squadron personnel and from the Aircraft Maintenance and Flight Trials Unit (AMAFTU) test specialists were deployed on the 118m-long frigate to collect data.

The trials offered an opportunity to learn how to integrate the UAV’s payload capacity with the frigate’s warfare capabilities.

Trial director lieutenant commander Hamilton said: “The deployment of unmanned systems at sea will become a more common theme in modern maritime warfare, especially with the advent and continued development of artificial intelligence and robotic or autonomous systems.

“Maximising their ability to safely operate in a variety of environmental conditions is fundamental to their operational utility and making them a force multiplier.”

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S-100 Camcopter is a vertical take-off and landing UAV capable of carrying a range of payloads.

It is designed to remain airborne for several hours and travel at a speed of 100km/h.

The UAV can be deployed to support missions such as surface, amphibious or anti-submarine warfare. It could be used for search and rescue, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief operations.

822X Squadron flight commander lieutenant Michael Mulquiney said: “The introduction of unmanned aviation operations at sea is a paradigm shift for the navy and it will enable us to detect threats at greater ranges and better defend our ships and give us enhanced situational awareness.”