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06/06/22: An Inside Look At Autonomous Warrior 2022

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) wrapped up exercise Autonomous Warrior 2022 (AW22) on May 27th after nearly two weeks of experimentation with unmanned systems.

More than 300 personnel from four countries, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, participated in the exercise which brought together over 30 distinct systems.

Throughout the exercise, unmanned surface, subsurface and aerial systems performed a variety of missions around HMAS Creswell and in the East Australian Exercise Area. The range of missions performed and supported by the systems was diverse, including force protection, Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), and strike.

Unmanned Systems at Autonomous Warrior

AeroVironment, flying their RQ-20 Puma All Environment (AE), Long Endurance (LE) and Switchblade platforms, constituted the bulk of the fixed-wing Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) fleet. RQ-20 AEs’, outfitted with night and day cameras, provided real-time imagery back to the exercise control centre. RQ-20 LEs, meanwhile, with their extended endurance and range, operated as communication relays for a variety of unmanned systems, extending their range, and providing redundant communication links. In a display at the end of the exercise, a Puma was used to identify a target, which was then prosecuted with a ship-launched Switchblade 300.

Several MARTAC Unmanned Surface Vessels (USV), including the RAN’s new DEVIL RAY T38, were active during the exercise. Naval News could witness them while underway in Jervis Bay. Two MANTAS T12s, smaller electrically driven USVs outfitted with sensors, were also being used. Commodore Darron Kavanaugh, Director-General Warfare Innovation Navy (WIN) told Naval News that an important capability offered by the MARTAC products was their ability to “nest” wherein the smaller T12 drives onto the larger T38s aft. During the exercise one T12, each from Australia and New Zealand cooperated to perform a range of missions.

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