For the first time, a small unmanned aerial system has been used to provide targeting support to 1st Armoured Regiment.

No. 3 Security Forces Squadron (3SECFOR) operated the R70 Sky Ranger in the exercise at the Cultana Training Area in South Australia from October 23 to 30.

The squadron’s multi-rotor unmanned aerial system (MRUAS) cell is responsible for providing security with a portable and rapidly deployable intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability in support of air power.

The joint activities at Cultana proved the Sky Ranger is also capable of providing range safety and target acquisition support to Army’s Australian Light Armoured Vehicle (ASLAV) regiments.

The Sky Ranger is just the beginning of security forces’ transition – making us a more integrated and potent force.

MRUAS cell section commander Leading Aircraftman Rhys Mitting was responsible for liaising with 1st Armoured Regiment to identify and execute ways the Sky Ranger could be used.

“We used the Sky Ranger to clear the live-fire trace area in about a quarter of the time it would’ve normally taken a land-based vehicle,” Leading Aircraftman Mitting said.

To boost its endurance, the Sky Ranger can be deployed with a tether kit with a micro-cable providing power, allowing round-the-clock operation.

“Utilising the tether, we were able to provide 1st Armoured Regiment with continuous target identification support for multiple mission sets, identifying ground targets ranging from 1000 to 3000 metres away,” Leading Aircraftman Mitting said.

“The Sky Ranger provided the ASLAV crews with precision targeting support for their static and moving shoots, and this resulted in better scoring across the board.

“By the end, 3SECFOR successfully demonstrated that our system could provide 1st Armoured Regiment with a highly valuable, capability-enhancing edge on the battlefield.”

The R70 Sky Ranger is an example of locally driven innovation fuelling integration and joint modernisation, and is a key element of 3SECFOR’s evolution.

“Air Force’s MRUAS capability has been developed and trialled by 3SECFOR in South Australia for the past three years,” Leading Aircraftman Mitting said.

“The successful integration of 3SECFOR’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance system with 1st Armoured Regiment has opened up new opportunities for our team to work alongside armoured regiments and other land-based elements in the future.

“The Sky Ranger is just the beginning of security forces’ transition – it’s allowed us to share information in the joint space, making us a more integrated and potent force.”

Commander of Combat Support Group Air Commodore Veronica Tyler praised members of 3SECFOR for their efforts.

She said she looked forward to seeing the MRUAS capability evolve into the future.

“Following a year of operational, test and evaluation by 3SECFOR, Combat Support Group is looking forward to embracing and employing the R70 Sky Ranger MRUAS to enhance our national support base and expeditionary intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability,” she said.