Australia to invest in drone development programme

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has announced the government will invest $1.3 billion in a new drone development program, reported Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The Maritime UAS (unmanned aircraft system) Continuous Development program aims to give Australia leading-edge maritime surveillance capabilities.

According to Minister Reynolds, that objective ties in directly to departmental requirements of such capabilities to better understand and adapt to the 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,” Minister 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.”

Australia aims to acquire a range of UAVs, weighing in anywhere between 25 and 300 kilograms. A five-yearly investment cycle will ensure the Maritime UAS capability commencing in 2024 stays abreast of current trends and updated in line with international standards.

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On its part, the government said that detailed advice on the invitation to register would be released on AusTender this month, including a call for tenders across all elements of the Maritime UAS program.

The news comes on the back of a marked uptick in investment into sovereign industrial capability, which looks to position the country to meet future challenges.

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