Glenbrook pilot soars with Eagles in the Middle East

Launching a complex Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) 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, who hails from Glenbrook originally, 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.

HMAS Newcastle is the first Australian ship to deploy on Operation Manitou with a ‘ScanEagle’ UAS as part of her intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.

“I’m the Mission Commander of the UAS operations which are conducted from HMAS Newcastle,” Lieutenant (LEUT) 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.”

When he returns home later in the year, LEUT Jeffery said he is looking forward to catching up with his partner Emma, his family and friends and getting back on his motorbike.

“One of my passions in life is motorbike riding,” he said.

“I have a BMW S1000R waiting for me at home, which I can’t wait to swing a leg over.”

LEUT Jeffery is also looking forward to conducting his helicopter conversion on the new EC-135 training helicopter, starting January 2018.

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

Operation Manitou is Australia’s contribute to the US-led Combined Maritime Forces, which is a 31-nation partnership focused on defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, encouraging regional cooperation and promoting a safe maritime environment.

HMAS Newcastle’s deployment marks the 65th rotation of a Navy vessel to the Middle East region since 1990.