Australia’s government is investing up to A$1.3 billion in a new Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) development programme to enhance situational awareness across Australia’s vast maritime environment. The Maritime UAS Continuous Development programme will ensure Defence maintains leading-edge maritime surveillance capabilities.

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said Defence requires leading-edge maritime surveillance capabilities to better understand and adapt to the complex and rapidly changing maritime domain. “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,” Reynolds said. “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.”

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds. (PHOTO: Government File Photo)

Through this programme, Defence plans 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. 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. Detailed advice on the Invitation to Register will be released on AusTender in August 2020.

“Developing sovereign industrial capability through projects like this is critical to enhancing Australia’s industrial base and maritime security,” Reynolds said. “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 programme will provide opportunities for Australian industry to innovate, develop and grow.”

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