Cobham Aviation Services has welcomed the Australian government’s RPAS decision to select General Atomics and its Reaper system to support the AIR 7003 project.
Cobham is the lead partner with GA-ASI in Team Reaper Australia, the Australian industry consortium that will deliver and support Project Air 7003 throughout its service life.
Both Cobham and GA-ASI have collaborated on the introduction of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) into Australia for more than 10 years in the lead up to this program.
Ryan Both, Cobham Australia chief executive, welcomed the government's announcement, saying, "Cobham welcomes Defence Minister Pyne’s announcement and the government’s investment in world-leading remotely piloted aircraft systems."
The TRA team currently consists of 10 Australian companies providing a range of innovative sensor, communication, manufacturing and life cycle support capabilities that includes Cobham, CAE, Raytheon, Flight Data Systems, TAE Aerospace, Quickstep, AirSpeed, Rockwell Collins Australia, Ultra and SentientVision.
"These systems represent the next evolution of ISR capabilities and we are proud to be a significant player with GA-ASI in the delivery of Project Air 7003," Both said.
The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper is a series of armed, unmanned aerial systems that has a number of variants, each modified for specific tasks and operational requirements, with a firm decision on Australia's variant still to be confirmed.
Each of the Reaper variants are operated from a common ground control station and are air-transportable by RAAF C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster airlifters, or independently deployable, providing deployed Australian forces with a highly capable, reliable and persistent close-air-support, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) asset, no matter the variant chosen.
The aircraft will be used to watch and protect ADF and coalition land forces, and provide reconnaissance support for search and rescue, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
The government is now conducting a review of General Atomics' offering to cover pricing and availability data from the US on Reaper variants to support future decision-making on the acquisition.
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The AIR 7003 announcement follows the recent government decision to purchase MQ-4C Triton high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) surveillance and reconnaissance systems, which will provide long-range, high-endurance ISR capabilities for the ADF.