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Australia launches AU$1.3bn maritime UAS initiative

Maritime UAS
Photo: Royal Australian Navy

The Australian government plans to invest up to AU$1.3 billion in a new unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) development program to enhance situational awareness across Australia’s maritime environment.

The maritime UAS continuous development program is being launched to ensure Australia maintains maritime surveillance capabilities, the government said.

Australian defense minister Linda Reynolds said the armed forces requires 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 center of a dynamic strategic environment,” Minister Reynolds said.

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

Through this program, the defense ministry 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.

The defense ministry plans to adopt a five yearly investment cycle to upgrade the maritime UAS capability starting in 2024.

Later this month, the Australian industry will be invited to register to investigate the capability and capacity to deliver all elements of the maritime UAS, including air vehicles, sensor payloads, integration, training and sustainment.