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Unmanned Aircraft Trial Successfully Completed

VIP day for the North West Shelf Unmanned Aerial System trial. Senator Macdonald is featured here in front of the Mariner Demonstrator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle with the Chief Defence Scientist, Dr Roger Lough.
by Staff Writers
Canberra, Australia (SPX) Nov 06, 2006
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, Senator Sandy Macdonald, today announced the successful completion of the recent Defence trial which assessed the capability of unmanned aerial systems performing maritime surveillance over Australia's North West Shelf.

"This brings to a close the unmanned systems capability trial which was a commitment made by the Australian Government under its 2004 Election policy Securing Australia's North West Shelf," Senator Macdonald said.

The trial, being led by the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, was conducted in two phases.

The first phase of the trial involved American aerospace company General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) and its Mariner Demonstrator unmanned aerial vehicle, which flew a series of real-world missions from RAAF Learmonth in northern Western Australia during September.

This phase of the trial aimed to assess the ability of the Mariner Demonstrator to operate with the Royal Australian Navy's Armidale Class Patrol Boats as well as the Border Protection Command and other force elements such as the Pilbara Regiment, to conduct surveillance and response missions.

Between 28 August and 25 September the aircraft flew a total of 75.5 hours, with each sortie ranging from two hours to more than 20 hours.

DSTO's Trial Project Leader, Dr Ian Sare, said the planned objectives for the flights had been satisfactorily achieved.

The second phase of the trial was conducted by Northrop Grumman in San Diego.

"Northrop Grumman used its Cyber Warfare Integration Network to simulate and model the Global Hawk UAS, flying similar mission profiles as the Mariner Demonstrator had done over the North West Shelf," Dr Sare said.

"The CWIN exercise allowed us to fill in gaps in areas where it was not practical to use the UAS during the real-world trial phase. The San Diego end of the trial has also helped to demonstrate the ability of unmanned systems to provide enhanced surveillance of the northern maritime approaches to Australia," he said. Dr Sare said Defence was currently preparing a full report on the trial to be presented to the Government by the end of the year.

Data from the North West Shelf UAS trial will help Defence in developing requirements for Project Air 7000 Phase 1, under which it plans to acquire a long endurance, multi-mission unmanned aerial vehicle.

Senator Macdonald said he looked forward to receiving the report and congratulated Defence and the overseas participants - General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and Northrop Grumman - in the successful completion of the trial.

Related Links
Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation
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