The UAS is set to form part of a new program to support the UK’s maritime search and rescue capability.
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The UK Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) has awarded a 10-year contract to Bristow to support the Second-Generation Search and Rescue (UKSAR2G) program.
The deal is expected to expand build on the existing work delivered by Bristow for the MVA since 2015, including the search and rescue (SAR) helicopter service for HM Coastguard.
The contract involves the operational deployment of Schiebel’s CAMCOPTER S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS).
Bristow received the delivery of its first Schiebel CAMCOPTER S-100 system in 2019, consisting of two aircraft, a ground control station and engineering and logistic support as a proof-of-concept capability.
In securing the CAMCOPTER, Bristow sought to explore the potential of unmanned and manned teaming in the SAR space.
Bristow has since accepted a second UAS into service, supporting the MCA and HM Coastguard operations in the English Channel.
“We are immensely proud that the S-100 is the UAS of choice to support SAR activities in the UK,” Hans Georg Schiebel, chairman of the Schiebel Group, said.
“The unrivalled maritime experience of the S-100 and the countless operations all over the world make the Schiebel UAS ideally suited for the UKSAR2G program.”
The CAMCOPTER S-100 is billed as a small-medium sized vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft made of titanium and carbon fibre materials.
The platform is designed to carry multiple payloads simultaneously for up to six hours at a time.
The CAMCOPTER S-100 can reportedly operate day and night, under adverse weather conditions, with a range out to 200 kilometres, both on land and at sea.
The unmanned aircraft can navigate automatically via pre-programmed GPS waypoints or can be operated directly with a pilot control unit.
The platform is operated via a point-and-click graphical user interface, transmitting high-definition payload imagery to the control station in real time.
By leveraging “fly-by-wire” technology controlled by redundant flight computers, the UAS can complete its mission automatically.
In May, the Commonwealth government greenlit the purchase of Schiebel S-100 CAMCOPTER drones for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) as part of the SEA 129 Phase 5 Block One project.
Raytheon Australia will serve as the prime systems integrator, with the company previously committing to set up an Asia-Pacific manufacturing and sustainment hub for S-100 UAS in the Shoalhaven region of NSW.
The company is working with Defence via a request for tender (RFT) procurement process before presenting to government for a second pass decision later this year.