The government announced today it would invest up to $1.3 billion in a new unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) development program to enhance situational awareness across Australia’s vast maritime environment.
FILE PHOTO (March 2020): Petty Officer Rodney Ferreira, stands by a Schiebel S-100 Camcopter before a flight at Jervis Bay airfield. Photo by Chief Petty Officer Cameron Martin.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the Maritime UAS Continuous Development Program would ensure Defence maintained [superior] maritime surveillance capabilities.
“Defence requires leading-edge maritime surveillance capabilities to better understand and adapt to the complex and rapidly changing maritime domain,” Minister Reynolds said.
“As detailed in the 2020 Defence Strategic Update, launched by the Prime Minister and I in July, Australia is at the centre of a dynamic strategic environment.
“Now, more than ever, Defence requires an agile acquisition strategy to take advantage of state-of-the-art technology.
“This acquisition heralds a new intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting capability for Defence to ensure Australia keeps pace in this rapidly developing technology domain.”
She said that, through this program, Defence planed to acquire air vehicles between approximately 25 to 300kg in size that would enhance the situational awareness and response options of Royal Australian Navy ships.
“To keep pace with rapidly developing technology in this domain, Defence will adopt a five-yearly investment cycle to upgrade the maritime UAS capability, commencing in 2024.
“An Invitation to Register will be released for industry to investigate the capability and capacity of Australian industry to deliver all elements of the maritime UAS, including air vehicles, sensor payloads, integration, training and sustainment.”
Minister Reynolds said developing sovereign-industrial capability through projects like this was critical to enhancing Australia’s industrial base and maritime security.
“To ensure we are positioned to respond to future challenges, the government will continue to invest in Australia’s UAS industry through Defence innovation and technology initiatives.
“This program will provide opportunities for Australian industry to innovate, develop and grow.”
Detailed advice on the Invitation to Register will be released on AusTender in this month.