Soaring with Eagles

Launching a complex unmanned aerial system from stable ground is one thing, but Navy’s Lieutenant Simon Jeffery has made it his mission to launch them from a ship – a moving roller coaster at times.

The 26-year-old Navy Pilot is currently deployed to Operation MANITOU onboard HMAS Newcastle.

The ship’s primary mission is to contribute to the international effort to promote maritime security and stability in the Middle East region.

Newcastle is the first Australian ship to deploy on the operation with a ScanEagle as part of her intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.

“I’m the Mission Commander of the unmanned aerial system operations,” Lieutenant Jeffery said.

“My role is to ensure that our missions are conducted safely.

“This is my first deployment with Navy, so being able to try out a new platform which could greatly increase the capabilities of a major Australian surface ship is a great privilege.

“While I’m a pilot by trade, working with the ScanEagle has seen me hand-off the ‘hands-on’ part of my job to another member of my crew.

“Even though I’m involved with mission planning rather than flying, it’s still been an exciting step in my career.”

On return from operations, Lieutenant Jeffery is looking forward to conducting his helicopter conversion on the new EC-135 training helicopter, starting January 2018.

Newcastle returns to her home port at Fleet Base East in Sydney in December this year.