The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has conducted first-of-class flight trials of the ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle aboard the Adelaide-class guided-missile frigate, HMAS Newcastle.
The trial was carried out by the Aircraft Maintenance and Flight Trials Unit, and the Navy Unmanned Aviation Systems Unit teams.
Conducted over several days, the trial tested weapons and engineering systems, including flight operations to test the operability of the ScanEagle system from the frigate.
The trials also involved electronic interference detection, deck operations and validation of the ship’s operating limits.
During the flight operations, the ScanEagle was launched and carried out multiple approaches to the ship in extreme and rough wind conditions off the east coast to validate a safe flight envelope for the aircraft.
The 1.5m-long ScanEagle system is a medium-range, endurance unmanned air vehicle, which can operate day and night in a range of meteorological conditions, with an endurance of more than 20 hours. It can fly at a speed of 70k and is powered by a 1.9 horse power engine, using either heavy fuel or petrol.
It is equipped to carry a variety of payloads, namely cameras, sensors, and measuring equipment to assist the controlling ship in building a recognised maritime picture.
HMAS Newcastle has recently completed an extensive maintenance period and is conducting sea qualification trials to assess its weapons and engineering systems.
Image: Participating units conduct flight operations of ScanEagle system from HMAS Newcastle. Photo: courtesy of Royal Australian Navy.