Schiebel reported trials of its Camcopter S-100 on a frigate of the Italian Navy, equipped with a Wescam MX-10 high-definition camera. The small unmanned helicopter “has successfully proved its maritime capability on 14 different classes of vessel in three oceans,” the company claims. A trial with the French navy is ongoing.
The Austrian company has now sold 140 Camcopters, including 80 to the UAE, which was effectively the launch customer. Most are being used for overland surveillance; five different EO/IR camera systems have been integrated. Civilian operators include a Malaysian company that uses the S-100 for pipeline surveillance. But despite believing that the UAS is ideally suited for deployment as a maritime surveillance asset, Schiebel has yet to secure a contract for a shipborne application. “There are plenty of requirements, but budgets are tight,” a spokeswoman told AIN.
Last March, Schiebel announced the first flight of a heavy fuel engine (HFE) version. “This is a flexibility that is not available in other tactical VTOL UAS,” the company claimed. In Europe, the Camcopter’s only rival is the Skeldur designed by Saab, which has yet to announce a sale. Neither AgustaWestland nor Eurocopter has entered this market sector. In the U.S., Northrop Grumman has developed the MQ-8B Fire Scout, and Boeing has developed the A160 Hummingbird, but both are bigger than the Camcopter. Thanks to an alliance with Boeing, Schiebel has sold some S-100s to the U.S. for use in psychological warfare operations, including leaflet dropping and loudspeaker broadcast. The spokeswoman declined to elaborate.
The S-100 has also flown with the Selex PicoSAR surveillance radar. Ellectronica of Italy and Rafael of Israel have proposed electronic warfare payloads, the spokeswoman told AIN.