Australia investing in more UAS

Australia investing in more UAS
RAAF personnel prepare to launch a Shadow 200 Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) drone from an airfield at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

The Australian government is expanding the nation's Unmanned Aerial Systems capabilities, with the release of request for information (RFI) and expressions of interest (EOI) in the field.

The Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG) recently launched a RFI for a Maritime Tactical Unmanned Air System (MTUAS) to be operated from the SEA 1180 Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs).

The RFI notice states that the SEA 129 Phase 5 Stage 1 project will introduce into service the MTUAS, which will provide the OPVs with an embedded, off-board intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platform.

The aim of the platform is to enhance the OPV's ability to perform primary and secondary missions.

An industry briefing is due to be held on 8 June at Alastair Swayn Theatre in Canberra and the RFI is set to close on 20 July.

The OPV program is estimated at more than $3 billion. Three designers have been shortlisted to refine their designs, Damen of the Netherlands and Fassmer and Lurssen of Germany.

Twelve vessels will be built in total to replace the 13 existing Armidale-class patrol boats.

The Department of Defence is also seeking expressions of interest from "suitably qualified contractors" for the AIR7000 Phase 1B Piloted Aerial System (RPAS) sustainment facilities project which includes the delivery of facilities and infrastructure to support the acquisition of up to six Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Tritons.

Defence said the scope of works will be delivered at both RAAF bases Edinburgh (SA) and Tindal (NT), including but not limited to maintenance hangars, aircraft aprons, warehousing, high-power engine run-up area, training support facilities and infrastructure connections to suit.

Construction is estimated to commence February 2019 and completion is estimated June 2022.

Industry briefings will be conducted in Adelaide and Darwin.

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