The man behind the unmanned helicopter

Published on LEUT Ben Willee (author), CPL Jessica de Rouw (photographer)

Location(s): Avalon, Vic

Topic(s): ScanEagle UAV, Camcopter S100 UAV, Australian International Airshow, 822X Squadron

Able Seaman Aviation Technician Avionics, Rik Murtagh, showcases the 822X Squadron S-100 Camcopter Unmanned Aircraft System at the Australian International Airshow 2019 held at Avalon, Victoria. Able Seaman Murtagh is an operator and maintainer for the platform. (photo: CPL Jessica de Rouw)
Able Seaman Aviation Technician Avionics, Rik Murtagh, showcases the 822X Squadron S-100 Camcopter Unmanned Aircraft System at the Australian International Airshow 2019 held at Avalon, Victoria. Able Seaman Murtagh is an operator and maintainer for the platform.

Two Royal Australian Navy Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs) are on display at the 2019 Australian International Airshow at Avalon, Victoria.

822X Squadron, the Navy's Maritime Tactical UAS Squadron, is displaying both the ScanEagle and the S-100 Camcopter at the major aviation event.

Able Seaman Aviation Technician Avionics Rik Murtagh is the operator and the maintainer of the S-100 CamCopter.

“My job is to fly and fix, including conducting unscheduled and scheduled maintenance,” Able Seaman Murtagh said.

“The aircraft is primarily used for reconnaissance and surveillance taskings, meaning we can provide extended sensory range over the horizon from the ship,” he said.

UASs provide critical contributions to military operations. Capable of operating from a ship’s flight deck they provide real-time, full motion video by day or night.  

Able Seaman Aviation Technician Avionics, Tony Clark, showcases the 822X Squadron ScanEagle Unmanned Aircraft System at the Australian International Airshow 2019 held at Avalon, Victoria. Able Seaman Clark is an operator and maintainer for the platform.

Able Seaman Aviation Technician Avionics, Tony Clark, showcases the 822X Squadron ScanEagle Unmanned Aircraft System at the Australian International Airshow 2019 held at Avalon, Victoria. Able Seaman Clark is an operator and maintainer for the platform.

Commenting on his exciting career, Able Seaman Murtagh said it was both unusual and challenging to work with military capability so small in size.

“I enjoy how technologically advanced the equipment is and flying is always a joy. 

“Having been a helicopter maintainer for a while, it's great to see the pilot's point of view for a change,” he said.

822X Squadron is tasked with conducting operational evaluation activities, developing UAS procedures and assessing UAS capabilities in maritime specific roles for Navy. 

Since 2013, extensive operational evaluation has been conducted to confirm the suitability of the technology for Navy operations, with a focus on aircraft performance and payload capability. 

This information will support the acquisition of the future Maritime Tactical UAS capability for the Royal Australian Navy.

The Australian International Airshow is being held at Avalon from 26 February to 3 March 2019.

Additional Australian International Airshow 2019 imagery is available on the Defence Image Gallery: https://images.defence.gov.au/s20190280.