Army cadets face off with ADF

The best cadet and ADF drone racers from across Australia fought it out at the first annual Australian Army Cadets National Drone Racing Championships at Simpson Barracks, Victoria, from June 15-16.

The cadets were accustomed to taking on their military counterparts and wasted no time showing off their skills on the racetrack. This was a full-circle moment for some, having bettered their Army Drone Racing Team (ADRT) mentors’ time.

Cadet Sergeant Zac Melvaine, of 39 Army Cadet Unit, began racing drones at the January Australian Army Cadets (AAC) drone camp. He placed first among the cadets, which solidified his spot at the 2024 Australian Drone Nationals in Townsville later this year.

“I’m really proud of everything I achieved over the weekend, having only flown a drone for the first time earlier this year,” Cadet Sergeant Melvaine said.

“Having the Australian Defence Force drone racing teams mentoring us has been invaluable. They are always so passionate and invested in our development.”

The ADRT are mentoring the cadets in building, flying and repairing drones, upskilling them in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

ADRT pilot Corporal William Maloney, of 1st/19th Battalion, the Royal New South Wales Regiment, has been inspired by the cadets’ achievements and wants to ensure more youth have access to STEM opportunities.

“The cadets have improved immensely since we saw them at the Australian Army Cadet drone camp in January,” he said.

“It’s been great to see them in their element, getting faster times than some of us in the Army Drone Racing Team. When we’re teaching them, that’s the pinnacle of success – when our students get better than us.”

The introduction of this new national AAC activity provides STEM-minded cadets with an opportunity to be nationally recognised in the organisation.

The cadet program is designed to complement all levels of adolescent development, providing pathways for specialist knowledge. To find out more about the AAC, visit

Public release

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