Page 20 - Australian Defence Magazine - July 2018
P. 20

Army announced the completion of the latest phase of its Black Hornet Nano unmanned aerial systems capability introduction in late May, following on from successful trials in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area.
Changing the game
Army explores UAS
THE TRIALS, conducted with the 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment, were undertaken during a live fire exercise and the Black Hornet system will now be rolled out across the entire conventional Army. This makes Army the biggest user of Nano UAS’ in the world and the first to roll out the technol- ogy throughout the combat force, down to the combat platoon level.
But Black Hornet is only one of a range of what Army describes as ‘game changing’ UAS capabilities either in service or being introduced, which will stretch from the combat platoon Nano UAS to Brigade level Shadow 200 system, and it is further experi- menting with innovative ways of using them .
Black Hornet
The two kilometre-range PD-100 Black Hornet was developed by Norway’s Prox Dynamics AS and initially trialled as part of the Army Innovation Day activity in 2014.
“We brought a handful of systems in and tested them out for a couple of years to make sure we knew exactly what we wanted out of a system of that scale,” Lieutenant Colonel Keirin Joyce, Army’s SO1 UAS capability manager, explained to ADM. “We were re- ally impressed with the feedback on a nano level UAS system.”
The capability has been rolled out under an $18 million Army Minor Project, which covers acquisition and sustainment and was delivered in time for 7 Brigade to use the system during Exercise Hamel.
“We’re rolling it out across the entire con- ventional Army and we’re the first in the world to do that, we think the technology is so game-changing we wanted it in all of our soldiers’ hands, all of the time,” LTCOL Joyce added. “We’ve bought enough to roll it out across all the infantry battalions and the operators can use it in their garrison locations as well as on major exercises like Hamel.”
Moving up the scale, the AeroVironment RQ-12AWasp AE small UAS (SUAS) is be- ing acquired under the $101 million Project Land 129 Phase 4A, which entered contract last year and will be rolled out to every com- bat team in the Army. The five kilometre- range Wasp was also initially trialled dur- ing Army Innovation Day 2014 and will complement the Black Hornet in the field.
“If we fast forward to when the Wasp and Black Hornet roll-outs are complete, the commander of an infantry company or armoured cavalry regiment squadron out in the field will have at their disposal a Wasp, which can look out for five kilometres and stay airborne for 45 minutes, and they will have a couple of Black Hornet systems they can push out for shorter range reconnais- sance tasks as well,” LTCOL Joyce said. “That’s a potent combination of capabilities to have in our combat units, in terms of field
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