Australian Navy commissions first unmanned aircraft system squadron

The Royal Australian Navy hosted a commissioning ceremony at HMAS Albatross on Wednesday to mark the formal transition of the Naval Unmanned Aircraft Systems Unit (NUASU) to 822X Squadron.

Royal Australian Navy officers and sailors of 822X Squadron on parade during the commissioning ceremony at HMAS Albatross. Photo: Royal Australian Navy

This is a major milestone in the Royal Australian Navy’s capability to operate unmanned aerial systems in the maritime domain.

822X Squadron is the fourth operational squadron in the RAN Fleet Air Arm.

The squadron will operate the Insitu ScanEagle, a small, long-endurance, low-altitude aircraft and the Schiebel S-100 Camcopter, which can carry payloads such as electro-optics and infrared sensors.

Chief of Navy Australia, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, said this was a significant moment for the Navy and the Fleet Air Arm.

“In the near future unmanned systems will be deployed to every operational theatre,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.

“Autonomous systems are growing in importance and 822X Squadron will realise the full potential that these technologies present.”

Commanding officer 822X Squadron, Commander Michael Rainey said the Squadron has a big job ahead of them.

“We will be working with the Fleet and other ADF units to use this technology to enhance our unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) capability.”

“While there are no people in the airframe, present levels of autonomy in UAS necessitates the well trained professionals on parade today to safely and effectively operate the system”

“By necessity, we already think differently to manned aircraft Squadrons, because at 822X Squadron, each person that fixes the system also operates the system.” Commander Rainey said.

This is the first time the Squadron number 822 will be used by a Navy Squadron. The X indicates the developmental nature of the Squadron. The motto of 822X Squadron is ‘See the Enemy’.