Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR July-Aug 2016 Contents 32 Asia Pacific Defence Reporter JULY-AUG 2016
(SUAS) based on a proven design to provide Army
Battlegroups, Combat Teams and below with an
organic Surveillance and Reconnaissance Capability.
According to the Defence Science and Technology
Group who have been researching this project ‘The
small unmanned aerial vehicles (typically less than
3kg take-off weight), capable of fully and semi-
autonomous operation, and the associated ground
control and support systems, will provide land-based
tactical units (down to at least platoon level) with their
own dedicated SUAS, carried and operated by them.
‘It will provide them with enhanced ‘local’ situational
awareness and increased force protection, and will
be able to be operated in most field environments,
including from or within confined areas such as in
A Military-Off-The-Shelf (MOTS) solution at
System Readiness Level 8 or 9 is required. The
successful Contractor will be required to deliver both
the physical SUAS, associated items and support
After a Request for Tender process, and now
currently in a negotiation phase with the Preferred
Tenderer, L AND 129 Phase 4 is on Defence’s list of
projects likely to seek Second Pass Approval during
2016-17. Initial Delivery is planned for April-July 2017
and final delivery by end 2018.
NAVY TESTING AND MINOR PROJECT
When APDR asked about Navy’s progress with UAS
and UAVs, their spokesperson told us “Unmanned
Systems, in the air, surface and subsurface domains,
are evolving rapidly. To ensure that Navy can field the
most effective capabilities as part of an integrated
Australian Defence Force under Defence White Paper
2016, it is important to grow and maintain awareness
of these systems. Specific to Unmanned Aerial
Systems, Navy is involved in a number of research
activities with the
Defence Science and
Technology Group and
directly with industry,
particularly in the fields
of sensor development
and Force Protection.
Navy looks for ward to
in progressing this
completed fixed wing
Scan Eagle UAV first-
of-class flight trials off
HMAS Choules in late March 2016, which included
telemetry and video during flights which covered
up to 200km and lasted up to 12 hours, APDR was
interested to know more of Navy’s plans.
This led APDR to question whether or not the
Navy sees a need for small tactical UAVs, either
fixed wing or small helicopter style. That drew this
response from the spokesperson “Navy has identified
a capability need for a variety of UAVs. As part of the
requirements definition process, Navy is undergoing
a number of de-risking activities with UAVs over the
next few years. The acquisition of Scan Eagle UAVs
is just part of this process.
“ In addition Navy is running another Navy Minor
Project (NMP1942), to acquire a Maritime Tactical
UAS capable of vertical take-off and landing for
continued experimentation, requirements refinement
and tactical development.
“The aim of the Scan Eagle and NMP1942
programs is to inform two major future acquisition
projects, Projects SEA129-5/6.”
APDR knew that Navy had sent representatives to
the United States to observe mid-2015 trials of the
Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout helicopter.
This is an unmanned light utility helicopter because
‘ Unmanned is absolutely here to stay for dull, dirty and
dangerous missions’ according to a USN Captain
involved in the trials.
Navy is interested in this technology because the
Fire Scout is claimed to be eight times cheaper to run
than Navy’s MH-60R Seahawk Romeo helicopters
coming into ser vice. This led APDR to ask Navy
about their current level of interest in Fire Scout. Their
spokesperson advised ‘Navy is aware of the Northrop
Grumman MQ-8B/C Fire Scout unmanned aircraft,
and has been briefed on and obser ved operation of
the Fire Scout systems by the United States Navy.’
All three Services are conducting programs to
evaluate the contribution that RPAs/UAVs and UAS
can make to their capability for protective ISR and
operations, whether in actual combat or during
humanitarian aid and disaster response situations.
As might be expected, the Air Force will be
operating the big Triton and probably Reaper
unmanned aircraft for strategic ISR and offensive
actions, while the Army and Navy will be more
focused on tactical unmanned systems with limited
horizons and payloads.
The next major announcement in this field will
probably be declaring the successful tenderer for
LAND 129 Phase 4 followed not long after by the
Navy’s Project NMR1942 for tactical UAVs, with the
big announcements on Triton and Reaper probably
12 months or more away.
“ Dull, dirty and dangerous missions” – just the
thing for unmanned aircraft.
Northrop Grumman-built Triton unmanned aircraft system.
Credit: U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman by Bob Brown/Releasd
MQ-9 Reaper. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt.
Dennis J. Henry Jr.
21/07/2016 6:59 PM
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