Australia’s ‘Billion Dollar’ Reconnaissance Drones Are Also Used By China & Russia; Canberra Says Will Examine The Deal
The S-100 Camcopter, manufactured by Austrian company Schnabel, is already up ruining with the Royal Australian Navy. The most recent order includes a Maritime Tactical Unmanned Air System to offer “intelligence, reconnaissance, and targeting” on the Navy’s Arafura-class offshore patrol boats and Anzac-class frigates.
The Morrison administration chose the unarmed Austrian helicopter drones for Project SEA129 Phase 5 after forgoing a competitive evaluation procedure that included competing for American and British proposals. The decision was taken just days before the caretaker period for this year’s election.
The S-100 Camcopters were previously licensed by Russia for civilian use, but China’s military recently purchased them for use on the guided missile destroyers of the PLA-Navy.
With Defense Department claiming that the S-100 Camcopter system is in use internationally, US defense giant Raytheon has been chosen as the “system integrator” for Project SEA129 Phase 5.
The Defense Department’s contract with Schiebel and Raytheon is closely guarded, but it is estimated to be worth more than $1 billion.
The Camcopter controversy is unsettling for the Australian defense, but it is not the first time that the new government has had to contend with controversies related to Peter Dutton.
Earlier, in June, Dutton revealed that he had devised a plan before the election to buy two American Virginia-class submarines by 2030, as previously reported by EurAsian Times.
The former Morrison government was also accused by France of blatant lies in the face of the termination of the submarine contract. However, there has now been a reset of ties between the erstwhile estranged partner under the leadership of Anthony Albanese.
The federal government had signaled that the Camcopter program might be canceled as part of a broader defense review, but there were no intentions to quickly revise Mr. Dutton’s initial decision, a spokesperson for Defense Industry Minister Pat Conroy told ABC.
The S-100 Camcopter is an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) with vertical take-off and landing capabilities. It needs no prepared area, supported launch, or recovery equipment. It operates day and night, under adverse weather conditions, with a range out to 200 km, both on land and at sea.
The S-100 can be flown directly using a pilot control unit or automatically using pre-programmed GPS waypoints. It has a straightforward point-and-click graphical user interface to plan and manage missions.
The camcopter allows real-time transmission of high-definition payload imagery to the control station.
The UAV can carry out its mission automatically in even the most complicated electromagnetic settings thanks to “fly-by-wire” technology managed by redundant flight computers. Its titanium and carbon fiber fuselage offers space for a variety of payload/durability combinations.
The S-100 is the only UAS in its class with the capacity to transport numerous sensors at once. With such a wide range of sensors, the CAMCOPTER® may significantly improve situational awareness for naval commanders and decision-makers by broadening their field of surveillance.