For the first time 20th Regiment Royal Australian Artillery deployed its Shadow tactical unmanned aerial system (UAS) on a domestic operation to provide maritime surveillance for Joint Task Force 639 on Operation Resolute.
CAPTION: Craftsman Matt Williams, left, and Corporal Jonathon Healy service a Shadow air vehicle at Bamaga, Far North Queensland, during Operation Resolute. Story by Sergeant Sebastian Beurich.
Deployed to Bamaga in far-north Queensland since early June, the 50-strong task unit, raised from 132 Battery, is supporting Maritime Border Command until later in the year.
Detachment commander Major Dan Evangelisti said the task-unit battery was employed in support of a whole-of-government, maritime-led, joint task force.
“This task has provided us with plenty of challenges,” Major Evangelisti said.
“This is the first time we’ve been employed in this role and the team have taken to it quickly.”
The team comprises Army and RAAF personnel including imagery analysts, cooks, signallers, maintenance staff as well as UAS operators.
A mobile air operations team also provides air traffic control for the Shadow’s airspace.
Major Evangelisti said Border Command were happy to have them.
“We’ve achieved some good surveillance outcomes, but we’ve also achieved some good community outcomes,” Major Evangelisti said.
“By showing the people of the Torres Strait that our capability is out here, we’re showing them how we contribute to protecting them from criminal elements and the prospect of COVID-19 vectors from overseas.
“Other government agencies and law enforcement personnel also support of our presence here because it’s something new and interesting, but it’s also the future.
“They’re looking at the Shadow system and our operations, saying ‘we want that in support of us’, which is exciting.”
Battery Sergeant Major Warrant Officer Class 2 Geoffrey Bruhn said task-unit personnel were extremely humbled to be deploying on a domestic operation, many for the first time in their careers.
Along with other Army elements from the Regional Force Surveillance Units, they’re supporting personnel from the Queensland Police, Australian Border Force, Australian Federal Police and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority.