Coveted Safety Cup Awarded to ScanEagle Squadron
A new naval air squadron has already made its mark in the world of naval aviation and has been awarded a coveted military award.
The esteemed Bambara Flight Safety Trophy is presented each year to the ship, squadron or unit which does the most to promote and endorse safety. This year the silver cup has been awarded to 700X Naval Air Squadron (formerly the Royal Navy’s 831 Flight) which was reformed at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in late 2014. 700X is leading the Royal Navy’s endeavours into the world of unmanned flight using remotely piloted air systems as ‘eyes in the sky’. The squadron deploys ‘Flights’ to Royal Navy ships and will trial and evaluate any future unmanned aircraft for the Fleet Air Arm.
700X currently fly the ‘Boeing Insitu ScanEagle’. Since its formation, the squadron has operated on ships including HMS Somerset, Northumberland and RFA Cardigan Bay testing the ScanEagle’s capabilities in areas including the Gulf. The citation for the Bambara Trophy recognised the team’s efforts which “…mastered the complexities associated with unmanned aviation…” and stated that “…The formation of 700X NAS, and subsequent deployments of Scan Eagle on Royal Navy ships have set the standard for future Unmanned Naval Aviation.”
Each ScanEagle ‘aircraft’ is launched from a ship by catapult. Able to remain airborne for up to 18 hours, it is capable of beaming live video of what it sees directly into the ship’s operations room. Navy personnel direct the ScanEagle’s operations and a civilian team from the aircraft’s manufacturer Boeing Insitu, fly and maintain the aircraft. The Bambara Trophy recognises the efforts of the whole team involved. Commanding Officer of 700X Naval Air Squadron Lieutenant Commander Alan Rogers said: “700X displayed an extremely high level of safety awareness whilst developing and introducing a very new concept into the Fleet. Safety is paramount to the Royal Navy and especially important when flying aircraft to and from ships at sea. The award of the Bambara Trophy is just reward for the concerted efforts across the whole team, both civilian and military.”
The squadron has already achieved much in a short time as Lieutenant Commander Rogers explains: “Since ScanEagle was introduced, adding to the Royal Navy’s arsenal of airborne surveillance sensors, a great deal has been achieved. In total, the combined efforts of the embarked flights have achieved over 1500 ScanEagle operating hours from a variety of platforms. Lieutenant Commander Rogers added: “Without doubt, ScanEagle has proved to be a most valuable asset and a worthy addition to the ships array of available sensors. The work that we have been carrying out has given us invaluable experience and set the standard for future operations.”