RNAS Culdrose Squadron 700X Leading Royal Navy Research Into Drones And Remotely Piloted Air Systems Credit Royal Navy 170120.jpg
UK

RNAS Culdrose Leads Royal Navy Drone Research

It is hoped the research could change the way drones and remotely piloted vehicles are used on naval ships.

RNAS Culdrose Squadron 700X Leading Royal Navy Research Into Drones And Remotely Piloted Air Systems Credit Royal Navy 170120.jpg

A team from RNAS Culdrose is leading research into how the Royal Navy can effectively use drones and remotely-piloted aircraft.

The work is being undertaken by 700X Naval Air Squadron (X for experimental), who are testing new air systems nearby Predannack Airfield on the Lizard peninsula.

The squadron also took to the sea for a week of testing aboard the fishery protection ship HMS Mersey.

Commanding Officer of 700X, Lieutenant Commander Justin Matthews, said it was a hugely exciting time to be at the cutting-edge of UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) technology.

"These remotely-piloted systems can act as an extension to a ship’s suite of sensors and potentially as a weapon delivery platform," he said.

"We’ve set up this test flight to explore that concept as a capability.

"We want to be able to demonstrate how you could take any generic UAV, fly it from a ship, and get its information back in a meaningful way," Lt Cdr Matthews added.

RNAS Culdrose Squadron 700X Leading Royal Navy Research Into Drones And Remotely Piloted Air Systems 2 Credit Royal Navy 170120.jpg
700X testing the Puma air system from a civilian boat in Falmouth Bay (Picture: Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose/Royal Navy).

The team are using an existing air system known as Puma, which can be launched and recovered from ships.

"The Puma is just one air system. It can stay up for two and a half hours and it has a really good camera.

"For the Royal Marines, for example, this is an awesome piece of kit. In other areas, we need to assess its utility across the differing requirements of vessels."

Lt Cdr Matthews said it's "important" that they test new technologies and assess how the Royal Navy could use remotely piloted vehicles on their ships.

"We’ll be exploring how you get the information back in a way which can make a difference. It needs to go to the operations room or the bridge.

"I am especially pleased that we will be back on Mersey because 700X previously went on board the same ship during an operation and used quadcopters.

"This is a natural progression to move into this more sophisticated air system," he added.

RNAS Culdrose Squadron 700X Leading Royal Navy Research Into Drones And Remotely Piloted Air Systems 3 Credit Royal Navy 170120.jpg
Members of 700X NAS aboard a civilian boat in Falmouth Bay (Picture: Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose/Royal Navy).

In a recent joint exercise, the squadron supplied the air power with live video of ‘enemy soldiers’ to HQ ahead of the Royal Marines storming a beach in North Devon.

The marines working with 700X will also be taking systems on exercise to Norway soon.

The other major aspect of the squadron’s work is in delivering training courses across defence from RNAS Culdrose in the use of quadcopters.

Lieutenant Commander Matthews added: "I think we are in a very exciting time and I am really pleased with the progress we’ve made so far.

"As we move forward and take this technology to sea, we are leading the way in developing a new capability for the Royal Navy.

"We are at the start of that adventure."

Cover image: A Puma air system from 700X was used for reconnaissance in an exercise involving Royal Marines in north Devon (Picture: Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose/Royal Navy).