Australia, Joint services experiment with UAS communication during Project Convergence 22

By Pfc. Dominique Mendoza, 14th Public Affairs DetachmentOctober 18, 2022

The Integrator, an unmanned aerial system, awaits take off for its mission during PC22.
The Integrator, an unmanned aerial system, awaits take off Oct. 5, 2022, for its mission during Project Convergence 2022 at Camp Pendleton, California. Through Project Convergence, the all-service force is aggressively transforming the way future warfighters will operate in fast-paced high-tech and multidomain environments. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Spc. Brenda Salgado) VIEW ORIGINAL

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – As part of Project Convergence 22, an All-Service and Multinational force experiment designed to rapidly converge effects across all warfighting domains, the Australian Army experimented with the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Army to communicate targeting data among militaries.

During one Project Convergence 22 experiment, an Australian unmanned aerial system called “The Integrator” was used with the goal of successfully relaying data between militaries.

The Integrator UAS can be operated while stationary or from a moving vehicle because it is controlled from just two computers. Though it is typically operated by a four-person crew, it can be operated by just a single person.

Chris Fler, Senior Program Manager with Insitu Pacific, said The Integrator UAS is very mobile and can be set up in small geographic footprints. Insitu, a Boeing Company, is contracted by the U.S., Australian, and other militaries to build the UAS, as well as other similar technologies.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for everybody, including both Insitu and the Australian Military,” Fler said. “It’s great to share technology and speak in a shared language, which is now data.”

The Integrator UAS returms from its mission to the MK3 retriever during PC22.
The Integrator, an unmanned aerial system, returns from its mission to the MK3 retriever on Oct. 5, 2022, during Project Convergence 22 at Camp Pendleton, California. During PC22, many systems will be tested to determine how future command and control capabilities can be integrated with all service and multinational partners. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Spc. Brenda Salgado) VIEW ORIGINAL

This aircraft was developed in the United States, with its landing method adopted from techniques used for tuna fishing. The aircraft takes off and flies to a given set of coordinates until it is directed to fly back. As the aircraft returns to its home destination, a hook on its wing catches onto a rope and it is suspended in the air until lowered back to the ground. This is similar to a fish being suspended from a fishing line, and then reeled back towards the boat.

“The Integrator is being shown today, and I’m here to make sure that the Australian Army wants to operate with this equipment,” said Maj. Brendon Gledhill, the evaluation’s officer in charge from the Australian Army Headquarters. “I’m seeing the capabilities provided and which areas can be potentially improved.”

The Integrator was first fielded in 2009, and since then has been adjusted and improved to provide additional capabilities for ever-adapting requirements. Gledhill stated that the distances the aircraft’s cameras can see has grown tremendously, as has the durability of the engines. The UAS can now fly through light rain and has more endurance and life span.

“Project Convergence 2022 is great. The more we can integrate and provide a solution for anything to improve the warfighter is amazing,” Gledhill said. “I fully support that and whatever we can do to keep people safe.”

“The goal for us is to do whatever we’re needed for during Project Convergence 2022,” Fler said. “We are aiming just to have this aircraft in the air and provide all the guys on the ground with the information that they need. If they need more video, we’ll provide more video; or if they need us to fly longer, that’s what we’ll do.”

The Integrator experimentation is just one example of how Project Convergence 22 is bringing together all the U.S. military services, as well as our multinational partners, to rigorously test the effectiveness and interoperability of cutting-edge weapons and battle systems.