The test demonstrated "ViDAR's ability to turn a tactical UAV in to a broad area surveillance asset, capable of covering up to 80 times the previous maritime patrol area in a single sortie," according to a Sentient Vision news release.

The ScanEagle flew a total of 10.5 hours along the Australian coast. "The demonstration showed how the ScanEagle could cover an area greater than 13,000 square nautical miles of ocean over a 12- hour mission," Sentient Vision said. "On its first flight it successfully detected two Navy vessels positioned for the trial, before going on to also autonomously find smaller targets such as small boats and yachts, a submerged whale, and even an airborne helicopter."

Targets detected during the trial included a fast boat at a range of 9.1 nautical miles, a frigate at 12.6, an airborne helicopter at 3.5, and even a submerged whale at 1.5 nautical miles, the company said.