The Shoalhaven is set to play a major role in the future of unmanned aircraft, especially in the defence sphere.
Shoalhaven company Air Affairs Australia and Schiebel Pacific Pty Ltd, which provides the Royal Australian Navy with the Camcopter S-100 Remotely Piloted Aerial System, have joined forces at the Albatross Aviation Technical Park at Yerriyong.
Schiebel Pacific Pty Ltd (SPL), formed just over a year ago and a division of the Vienna-based Schiebel Group, has announced a partnership with Air Affairs and opened new offices and workshop operations at the facility adjacent to HMAS Albatross.
The Camcopter S-100 is one of two unmanned systems now being used by the RAN's 822X Squadron, formerly the Naval Unmanned Aircraft Systems Unit (NUASU), based out of HMAS Albatross.
While the aircraft predominantly has a defence focus, it can also provide a host of civil applications.
Schiebel Group chairman Hans Georg Schiebel said the new facility establishes Schiebel in Australia and allows for further expansion as the company grows over the next years.
"It puts SPL in close proximity to its customer, the Royal Australian Navy at HMAS Albatross and provides direct access to the airfield," he said.
"We wanted a prominent presence in Australia to support our customers the best way we can.
"We see a lot of opportunity in Australia. Australia is one of the leading defence forces when it comes to robotics and high-end systems.
"We think our cooperation with Air Affairs is very good and provides a strong partner in Australia.
"They [Air Affairs] are an established provider of equipment and services to the Australian Defence Force, major government departments and multinational companies.
"It will allow us to build on where we are to make the next step and get our customers what they require."
The two companies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate on the Request For Tender (RFT) responses for Remotely Piloted Aerial System (RPAS) opportunities in Australia and the Pacific region, as well as contract delivery, support and services.
"Building on our current contracts, we see enormous potential in Australia for Schiebel and the Camcopter S-100 RPAS due to several significant upcoming programs and working with established Australian companies will be key to success," Mr Schiebel said.
Air Affairs Australia CEO Chris Sievers said he was looking forward to a long-term relationship.
"Both companies are very similar with navy being our main customers, ours since the early '80s," he said.
"We've been here, located on the base originally and now off the base with significant infrastructure.
"I'm looking forward to working with Hans and the team to bring more opportunities with this exciting helicopter platform and look forward to a close relationship here and in the region."
Schiebel's Camcopter S-100 is currently under contract for the Navy Minor Project (NMP) 1942.
The evaluation program aims to develop the RAN's understanding of the capabilities of an advanced Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) Tactical Unmanned Air System (TUAS).
Schiebel Pacific is working closely with the RAN on achieving all the goals of the project, while simultaneously preparing for the upcoming tenders for LAND and SEA 129.
The company is also working to develop future requirements, capabilities and payload capabilities and is working with the Australian Army on a variety of projects.
While the aircraft predominantly has a defence focus, it can also provide a host of civil applications including in the electricity supply line surveillance, border security, aerial cinematography, anti-smuggling, agriculture/forestry and search and rescue fields.