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Brisbane-based Skyborne’s UAV performs first aerial firing demonstration

written by Hannah Dowling | November 11, 2021

Brisbane-based aerial robotics company Skyborne Technologies’ Cerberus UAV platform has performed its inaugural aerial firing demonstration in Queensland.

The Cerberus GLH completed its inaugural “first of type” aerial firing demonstration in line with Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority approvals.

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The recent testing and development procedure trialled the UAV’s five-shot 40mm grenade system, having undergone initial testing near Georgia’s Fort Benning as part of a US Army demonstration program dubbed Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment in December 2019.

According to a release from the company, the US experiment was the “first to fly and fire the unique tri-tilt rotor man-packable weaponised UAV with an aerial firing activity for a US Army audience”.

Skyborne Technologies explained that the recent pandemic had stopped the company from returning to the US for further testing, and instead the company embarked on their testing and evaluation procedures in Australia. In total, the process from application to aerial firing demonstration took 17 months, which included receiving approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

The company hopes that the recent demonstration will allow Skyborne Technologies to enhance the Cerberus’ accuracy and reliability, and further the platform’s technical readiness level (TRL).

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The company explains the Cerberus GLH is a tactical-level aerial fire support UAS and designed to be the first man-packable multiple-shot UAV. The VTOL system has a 30-minute flight time, with five 40mm rounds and enhanced day and night optics and AI edge processing.

“This aerial firing approval is the ‘first of type’ in Australia on civilian land and it was a significant roadblock for Skyborne’s Cerberus UAV development. Australia is filled [with] regulation red tape hurdles which directly impacts innovation and commercialising efforts in this country,” Adrian Dudok, Skyborne chief business officer, said.

“The Australian governments and ADF mandates sovereign capability, however when industry delivers capability, there is limited support to test and further develop the capability in addition to allow the ADF to test, evaluate and train with such new and emerging technologies.

“Skyborne has invested significant internal resources over the past 17 months to get this aerial firing approval off the ground, despite the many naysayers encountered along the way. This demonstrates the company’s ability to deliver cutting-edge technology to enhance Defence Force’s capability, while navigating around red tape and absorbing the costs associated with the ongoing long journey.”

Dr Michael Creagh, chief executive of Skyborne Technologies, concurred: “This is the first time that the 40mm HAVOC launcher has been fired from the air.

“Skyborne staff present at the demonstration were absolutely ecstatic with the result. The recoil response from the Cerberus GLH was an order of magnitude improvement over the old single-shot variant demonstrated in the US in 2019.

“The trial took on a crawl, walk, run approach. We tested critical subsystems one at a time, including geofencing, emergency return to home and auto-landing, before firing a single shot.

“The next step was firing all five rounds consecutively from the chamber and everything performed perfectly.

“The next steps for us will be to dial in the targeting system with practical experimentation, using a baseline from our sophisticated simulation software.

“We’re eager to get the complete Cerberus system into the hands of our ADF and other friendly forces for trials and feedback. Skyborne has developed fantastic relationships with CASA and the various other regulatory bodies involved in this process, and we take our hats off to these bodies, who have ultimately allowed innovation to progress in Australia.”

Article courtesy of Defence Connect.

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