Twelve members of the 1st Combat Signal Regiment have earned their drone wings by flying the multi-rotor unmanned aerial system (MRUAS) during a three-day drone pilot course. 

The MRUAS – commonly called a drone – has a top speed of 72km with the ability to outfly the unit’s mascot, a black cockatoo named Private Betty Black.

Craftsman Matthew Gibson, a technical electrician at 1st Combat Signal Regiment, flew the DJI Phantom 4 Pro above Robertson Barracks in Darwin. 

“Having access to this modern technology means we can surmount obstacles on a new level with less risk to soldiers on the battlefield,” Craftsman Gibson said.

The capability allows soldiers to capture photos and video that can be used for target acquisition and situational awareness of the battlefield without physically walking the ground.

The course covered basic flying skills as well as complex aerospace considerations for operating in civilian and military airspace, testing dexterity and control through a series of complex manoeuvre activities.

Lance Corporal Dylan Chamberlin said the course was engaging and pertinent to the modern pace of technology. 

“I found the course relevant to the way the world is changing,” Lance Corporal Chamberlin said.

“There are so many uses for unmanned aerial systems, so it’s smart to add these skill-sets to our toolkit.”

The regiment will employ the small drones in support of logistic operations and ground appreciation tasks during Exercise Cockatoo Walk next month.