Australia to invest $1.3bn in new Unmanned Aircraft Systems development program

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The Federal Government has announced an investment of up to $1.3 billion in a new Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) development program aimed at enhancing situational awareness across Australia’s maritime environment.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said the Maritime UAS Continuous Development program will ensure Defence maintains leading-edge maritime surveillance capabilities to better understand and adapt to the complex and rapidly changing maritime domain.

“Now, more than ever, Defence requires an agile acquisition strategy to take advantage of state-of-the-art technology,” the Minister said, adding that the program will pave the way for Defence to acquire air vehicles between approximately 25 to 300kg in size that will enhance the situational awareness and response options of Royal Australian Navy ships.

“This acquisition heralds a new intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting capability for Defence to ensure Australia keeps pace in this rapidly developing technology domain.”

According to Minister Reynolds, Defence is looking to adopt a five yearly investment cycle to upgrade the Maritime UAS capability commencing in 2024. She said 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.

“Developing sovereign industrial capability through projects like this is critical to enhancing Australia’s industrial base and maritime security,” Minister Reynolds continued.

“To ensure we are positioned to respond to future challenges, the Morrison 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,” she concluded.

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