The Australian Army has trialed its latest maritime surveillance drone in the remote islands north of Western Australia.

Developed by Ocius Technologies, the Bluebottle surface drone provides 24/7 operation and response availability for emerging surveillance missions.

It was demonstrated for the first time as part of the Australian military patrol training Operation Resolute led by the army’s Regional Force Surveillance Group.

During the test, the Bluebottle was utilized to track fishing vessels and collect evidence of illegal activities in the area.

“In addition to persistent surveillance, we were able to use the Bluebottles to conduct more specific reconnaissance tasks, such as beach landing site reconnaissance and avenues of approach to specific islands in advance of the ground force,” Australian Maritime Border Command Maj. Alexander Brent said.

“By controlling the Bluebottles remotely, the ground force was free to be able to move independently of the USVs (uncrewed surveillance vessels) and focus on other tasks, such as onshore reconnaissance and patrolling, while still benefiting from what the Bluebottles collected.”

Expanding Maritime Capability

A combination of 10th Force Support Battalion and Northwest Mobile Force personnel operated the drone on and around the islands.

Troops from the Royal Australian Regiment, 3rd Battalion, and 1st Combat Signal Regiment also participated in the exercise.

“The soldiers conducted surveillance from observation posts, dismounted patrols across the islands and patrols in the littoral environment by watercraft,” Northwest Mobile Force Patrol Master Capt. Stephen Sewell explained.

“Working alongside the Bluebottle uncrewed surveillance vessels, as well as Australian Border Force Dash-8 aircraft, the information our contingent gathered will enable potential responses from other government agencies.”

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Achieving Better Interoperability

The surveillance and reconnaissance demonstration was a success, with the team able to cover about 5,500 square kilometers (2122 square miles) of the territory.

“There is a very close relationship between the Australian Defence Force and Australian Border Force, facilitated through Maritime Border Command, which enables shared effort and the sharing of information to achieve better operational outcomes and security for Australia,” Brent said.

“At the local level, the Regional Force Surveillance Units have an intimate relationship with the Indigenous communities and leaders in their respective areas of operation, which is vital to the enhanced understanding of country, patterns of life and access across the north of Australia, all of which directly contributes to the land component outcomes for Operation Resolute.”