East Coast Sailors Train With New Capability During Unmanned Aerial System Target Operator Course

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Atlantic Region News / September 26, 2018

By Mona Ghiz, MARLANT PA

Canadian Fleet Atlantic is currently implementing a new capability for its ships - defeating Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) at sea. This new piece of equipment is the QinetiQ Target Systems Canada Snyper Mk II Unmanned Aerial System Target (UAS-T).  The UAS-T is intended to be operated from the Halifax-class frigates, but can be operated from any Canadian warship, and is designed to act as a target to test shipboard sensors and weapons as well as develop tactics against a drone threat at sea. It also has the ability to take imagery during its flight for post-mission analysis purposes.

“With adverse organizations weaponizing UAS, it stresses the necessity for the RCN to bring in this new capability,” said Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class Ronald Carr, Sea Training Atlantic Major War Vessel. “During tracking runs the UAS-T can emulate a small multi-rotor UAS threat posed to a frigate at sea and enable ships’ personnel to develop a threat matrix utilizing the ship’s visual, optical and electronic sensors to help detect the threat,” added CPO2 Carr.

Eight sailors from Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Halifax and Toronto took part in the Snyper Mk II UAS-T training course delivered by QinetiQ Target Systems Canada trainers at the Osborne Head Range in Cow Bay, Nova Scotia, from September 17-21, 2018.

“The goal of the course is to have operators develop proficiency piloting the target and operating at sea independently,” said John Leblanc, Program Coordinator, QinetiQ Target Systems Canada. “The course is set-up in two stations, consisting of training on both a ground control station and hand-held controller with practice rounds. The most challenging skill for the operators is to master takeoffs and landings from a moving platform.”

During the hand-held control training, a sailor pilots the UAS-T while the ground control station operator reads information on altitude, position, flight time in the air, battery life and warnings which includes pre-flight checkouts to ensure service availability and safety.

HMCS Winnipeg successfully trialed the Snyper Mk II UAS-T with a vertical takeoff and landing demonstration in November 2017 and trained eight operators in March 2018. HMCS Charlottetown embarked the UAS-T in July 2018 and had two trained operators during a deployment to the Arctic on Op NANOOK.

“The RCN is a big organization and the speed at which it has adopted the new technology from approving the concept, testing the equipment and training operators to be proficient and independent when operating at sea has been impressive,” said LeBlanc.

HMC Ships Halifax and Toronto will both employ the UAS-T in their upcoming overseas deployments. The RCN’s ability to evaluate a threat, adapt and counter UAS threats at sea will be enhanced with eight new operators ready to operate the UAS-T onboard.