Australian Department of Defence is planning to invest AUS$ 101 million (US$75.2 million) in new small unmanned aerial systems (UAS) for the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
The small UASs will be acquired in two tranches to boost ADF’s surveillance and reconnaissance capability, Australian department of defense announced Thursday.
As part of the first tranche, ADF will receive WASP AE micro air vehicles to meet an urgent need.
The AeroVironment-built drone has a flight endurance of 50 minutes and can be operated from a ground control system (GCS) with a communications range of 5km.
The Wasp AE can be operated manually or programmed for autonomous operation, by using the system’s advanced avionics and precise GPS navigation.
The drone’s EO/IR gimbal payload transmits advanced imagery in high wind conditions for mission effectiveness, AeroVironment stated.
"Similar systems, including the Skylark, have been used by our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq with tremendous success.” Australian Minister for Defence Marise Payne said.
"They provide our military with a faster and better understanding of the battlefield than our adversaries."
The WASP AE will be modified with Australian content in collaboration with other companies such as Sentient in Melbourne and Mediaware in Canberra, Australian Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne said.
The second tranche will upgrade the WASP AE or acquire a replacement system within the next ten years.
"Upgrading or replacing the WASP AE will ensure our troops continue to have the latest technology available to keep them safe on the battlefield.” Pyne said.
Defence will work closely with Australian industry through the Centre for Defence Industry Capability to maximise opportunities for local companies to get involved in this important project.