Schiebel completes acceptance tests for S-100 VTOL UAS heavy fuel engine with the Royal Australian Navy

Austrian company Schiebel has announced that it has completed the acceptance tests for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) of its new Schiebel-designed heavy fuel S2 engine for its Camcopter S-100 rotary wing Unmanned Air System (UAS).

In a news release, Schiebel said that it has engineered a new proprietary heavy fuel engine, the S2. Delivered as a next generation replacement for the current propulsion unit, the S2 further increases the overall capability of the system.

It adds that the enhancements offered by the S2 engine will enable the RAN to continue to expand their test and evaluation programme, examining advanced Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) UAS capabilities ahead of Project SEA 129 Phase 5 to acquire a VTOL UAS to equip the Navy’s ships.

The tests performed included a series of test flight activities to demonstrate both the endurance and Maximum Take Off Weight (MTOW) of the S-100 while carrying multiple payloads to prove that the S-100 fulfils the requirements of the RAN.

Throughout the tests, the S-100 system was equipped with a L3 Harris Wescam MX-10 real-time Electro-Optical/Infra-Red (EO/IR) camera, an Automatic Identification System (AIS), a L3 Harris Bandit transceiver and a Mode-S Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) transponder.

This configuration, provides the operators with the capability to locate and confirm the identity of vessels at sea, as well as transmitting the information in real time to users equipped with RoverTM remote video terminals.

The lightweight S-2 heavy fuel engine is initially cleared for JP-5 (F-44) and Jet-A1 fuels with other fuel types to be approved in future, with Schibel claiming that the new engine increases the operational performance and maintainability of the S-100 and has sufficient capacity to meet anticipated future market growth needs.

“Given the single fuel policy adopted by the world’s Navies, we have responded to the requirement and have now developed, tested and produced our own Schiebel-designed heavy fuel engine for the Camcopter S-100 system. We are thrilled to have successfully completed the acceptance activities of the new capability for the Royal Australian Navy,” said Hans Georg Schiebel, Chairman of the Schiebel Group.

Project SEA 129 Phase 5 will select the future UAS capability for the RAN´s new Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) as well as other ships. The Navy has previously said that it would be selecting a Prime System Integrator (PSI) for SEA 129 Phase 5, who will then be in charge of managing the overall project.

It has emphasised that the program would be less about the platform, and will instead focus on technology and adaptability, with the PSI to required to manage future transitions based on technological advancements in shipborne UAS technology through constant equipment refresh and spiral upgrades.

Gate 1 for SEA 129 Phase 5 is expected in the middle of 2020 followed by and EFP later this year. A restricted RFT will be followed by Gate 2 in early to mid-2022, with Initial Operating Capability in the mid-2020s and Final Operating Capability in the late 2020s.

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