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Australia Tests Maritime Surveillance UAV

September 4th, 2006: A major trial testing the ability of unmanned aircraft to perform maritime surveillance in Australia’s North West Shelf is taking place this week. Led by the Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) in collaboration with the defense forces and the Joint Offshore Protection Command the surveillance teams will demonstrate their capability to protect against illegal fishing, drug running and illegal immigration.

During the exercise, a General Atomics Mariner Demonstrator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) working with a Royal Australian Navy Armidale Class Patrol Boat, the Joint Offshore Protection Command and the Pilbara Regiment to conduct surveillance and response missions. Demonstration flights are carried out at RAAF Bases at Edinburgh, South Australia, and Learmonth, Western Australia. The Mariner UAV was specially modified for the Australian trial, carrying only sensor and communications equipment suitable for maritime surveillance missions. Individual sorties will vary between eight hours and more than 16 hours. The aircraft can fly at altitudes between 500 feet and 50,000 feet for as long as 30 hours without re-fuelling. During each mission the UAV will record the movements of vessels passing through Australian waters and exchange information with the Patrol Boat. Data collected by the UAV will be transmitted to RAAF Edinburgh for analysis. The primary goal of the coastal surveillance effort is to protect the region from illegal fishing, drug running and illegal immigration.

As a complementary activity, another Northrop Grumman will be conducting modeling and simulation work, using its Cyber Warfare Integration Network capability. This activity will enable the assessment of a range of factors not encountered during the trial flights and to consider how future systems might perform in the Australian environment. Australia plans to acquire a long endurance, multi-mission unmanned system under the planned Air-7000 project.




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  Updated: 09/03/2006



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