Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles has officially opened the largest directed-energy test range in the Southern Hemisphere at AIM Defence’s directed-energy facility in Melbourne.
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Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles and Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor attended the opening event with AIM Defence representatives in the suburb of Derrimut on 18 March.
The new 2,000-square metre indoor direct-energy range facility, sponsored by RAAF Jericho, represents three years of development for the Victorian defence and space manufacturing company.
It’s expected to house high-power laser research and development labs, sensors capable of operating and analysing high-power lasers, advanced fabrication equipment, an additive and subtractive manufacturing centre.
“Had the fantastic opportunity to visit AIM in Derrimut with my colleague Brendan O'Connor MP, and officially opened their new indoor direct energy range facility,” Marles said.
“The test range is the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and has received support from both the Royal Australian Air Force and the Defence Science and Technology Group in its development.
“It was great to see first-hand the complexity of what’s involved, a huge thank you to Jessica, Jae, and their team for their exceptional work.”
AIM Defence co-founder Dr Jae Daniel said the new build space will advance AIM’s ultra-compact counter-uncrewed aerial system.
“The ability to rapidly test and iterate laser technology without the need to conduct expensive outdoor trials, provides Australia with the competitive edge needed to cement its already considerable lead in compact counter-drone technology” Dr Daniel said.
The facility will have the ability to prototype, build, and test high power laser systems in both simulated and real-world environments.
AIM Defence co-founder Jessica Glenn also welcomed the facility opening.
“With our partners from across Defence, AIM has proven that Australia has the ability to build the best compact laser systems in the world,” Glenn said.
“Our range opening, together with the recent acquisition of sovereign UAV company NearSat and our team’s ongoing expansion, reinforces our commitment to delivering a range of deployable tactical directed energy capabilities for the ADF and our allies around the world.”
Earlier this month, AIM Defence acquired Brisbane defence and space manufacturing start-up NearSat, which is developing a high-attitude, solar-powered near-space satellites.