09
Oct

News.com.au

Up to 40 per cent of the Navy’s future force could be based on unmanned systems according to a senior officer.

Speaking at the Pacific 2015 International Maritime Exposition in Sydney on Tuesday, the Navy’s aviation capability manager Captain Al Whittaker said the force would integrate unmanned systems in the air, on the surface and under the sea in coming years.

He said the Navy had not focused significantly on unmanned systems in the past but it was now and he would not be surprised to see 30 to 40 per cent of its future effort using unmanned systems.

“We don’t have a lot of manned systems out there, that’s the problem for a small Navy like ours,” Captain Whittaker said.

“Anything we can do in the unmanned area will be of significant benefit.”

High-tech system ... Captain Al Whittaker with the Scaneagle unmanned aircraft at the Pacific 2015 Maritime Expo on Glebe Island. Picture: Peter Lorimer.
High-tech system … Captain Al Whittaker with the Scaneagle unmanned aircraft at the Pacific 2015 Maritime Expo on Glebe Island. Picture: Peter Lorimer.

Captain Whittaker conceded that unmanned systems had their limitation such as line-of-sight range but technology would rapidly solve such problems.

Unmanned systems are dominant throughout the vast but temporary Sydney Exhibition Centre where some 300 companies from US and European defence giants to small backyard operators are displaying their wares.

Navy Chief Vice-Admiral Tim Barrett said flexibility would underpin future ship-building plans so new technologies could be adapted quickly.

“In the past too often ships were fitted ‘for but not with’ all the weapons systems and sensors they needed to make them lethal,” he said.

Some of the unmanned technologies available include a real time visual detection and ranging system from Melbourne company Sentient. It provides a wide area surveillance capability from a camera and processor half the size of a mobile phone and can be used for search and rescue, illegal migration, illicit drug detection, piracy, offshore asset protection and high end warfare.

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