The Belgian Navy recently tested the maritime surveillance capabilities of Schiebel’s Camcopter S-100 unmanned air system (UAS) in the naval port of Zeebrugge and in a land-based setting in Lombardsijde.
The trials lasted from June 21 to July 1 and were aimed at developing a successful concept of operations for the use of UAS in support of search and rescue (SAR) as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.
For the demonstration flights, the helicopter was equipped with two payloads, the L3 Wescam MX-10 and the Overwatch Imaging PT-8 Oceanwatch, as well as an automatic identification system (AIS) receiver and a rescue drop box.
“The trials with the S-100 have been very successful and have taught us a lot about the possibilities of such systems and sensors, the ability to operate in Belgium’s confined airspace, opportunities for the domain of coastal security and prospects for further developments,” said Lt. Commander D. Biermans, who is in charge of the Belgian Navy’s Maritime Tactical UAS (MTUAS) Project Team.
“Given the complexity of introducing a MTUAS within the Navy and its impact on the concepts of operation and tactics, this was a first informative step and will be part of a series of tests and experiments with a variety of vehicles and sensors.”
According to Schiebel, the flights were the first S-100 customer demonstration with the recently integrated PT-8 Oceanwatch payload. This wide-area maritime search capability offers a powerful naval patrol capacity and thus solves the challenge of searching for small objects over vast areas.
“With its small footprint, exceptional capability and state-of-the-art payloads, the Camcopter S-100 is the perfect platform for maritime and land-based SAR missions,” said Hans Georg Schiebel, chairman of the Schiebel Group. “Our tried and tested helicopter continuously proves to be the most capable and successful vertical takeoff and landing UAS.”