Australia is home to considerable innovation when it comes to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Sypaq’s “cardboard” Corvo Precision Payload Delivery System (PPDS) and Boeing Defence Australia’s MQ-28A Ghost Bat might be at extreme ends of the capability spectrum, but each in its own way represents the creative vision resident in Australia.
Speaking to Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter earlier this year, Amanda Holt, Sypaq’s CEO, shared that 100 of these low-tech but highly effective PPDS units were being supplied monthly to Ukraine. Delivered in flat packs as part of Australian aid to Ukraine, they are quickly assembled and the foam board material can be easily repaired if damaged. Holt noted that Ukraine is using them for a plethora of missions, often for ones never originally conceived by the aircraft’s engineers.
With their minimal radar cross-section, they can be used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) purposes. For example, operators add mobile phone cameras set on FaceTime to provide real-time imagery of enemyheld terrain. By adding reflective tape, they can become decoys, or with explosives aboard they form loitering munitions. Some PPDSs have achieved as many as 60 missions in Ukraine, while others are sent on “one-way” tasks.
The MQ-28A Ghost Bat is at the other end of the spectrum. A statement supplied by the Department of Defence offered this terse update: “Defence continues to analyse the capability maturity of the MQ-28A Ghost Bat through systematic testing in both live and digital environments.” It added, “Defence continues to assess future capability in line with government direction following the Defence Strategic Review.”