A new world-class surveillance and reconnaissance capability acquired by Defence will give our soldiers an edge on the front line.
Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, and Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, today announced the $101 million investment into Small Unmanned Aerial Systems will directly create up to 10 new jobs in Canberra plus supporting dozens of jobs in the supply chain.
Minister Payne said the systems were small enough to be carried, assembled and used by one person, and allowed the soldier to 'see over the hill, around the corner and down the road'.
"Similar systems, including the Skylark, have been used by our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq with tremendous success," Minister Payne said.
"They provide our military with a faster and better understanding of the battlefield than our adversaries."
Minister Payne said the capability would be acquired in two tranches; with the WASP AE chosen as the preferred option for the first tranche to meet an immediate need.
This funding is for the first tranche of the capability.
Minister Pyne said the WASP AE will be modified with Australian content utilising other companies such as Sentient in Melbourne and Mediaware in Canberra and acquired through Canberra based company, XTEK.
“It’s a proven capability used by militaries around the world, including with the US Marine Corps,” Minister Pyne said.
“Importantly, a significant proportion of this investment will remain in Australia, with local industry content valued at approximately $11 million for acquisition, plus up to $4 million each year for sustainment.”
"The majority of maintenance and support will be carried out in Australia by XTEK.”
The second tranche will upgrade the WASP AE or acquire a replacement system within the next decade.
"This will also provide opportunities for Australian industry," Minister Pyne said.
"Upgrading or replacing the WASP AE will ensure our troops continue to have the latest technology available to keep them safe on the battlefield.”
"Defence will work closely with Australian industry through the Centre for Defence Industry Capability to maximise opportunities for local companies to get involved in this important project,” he said.