The Australian Department of Defence has invited the country’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to submit proposals for new technologies to protect unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

The new technologies are proposed to be developed to protect Australia’s small, fixed-wing UAS by making them more difficult to be detected.

Australian Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said: “Australian SMEs are great innovators and we want them to put forward innovative concepts to protect our UAS from being readily seen or heard in different environmental conditions.

“Funded proposals will be eligible to receive up to $100,000 and must be completed within nine months.”

“Defence is looking for outcomes to reduce both the visual and acoustic detection of UAS from ground-based observation without disrupting the operation of the aircraft.”

The autonomous aircraft are used for intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance, particularly in situations where operating manned flights might prove to be risky.

Proposals for the development of the advanced technologies are being invited under the Small Business Innovation Research for Defence (SBIRD) initiative, which is part of the Next Generation Technologies Fund.

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Pyne added: “This programme is designed to stimulate innovative research for defence application by SMEs, with this being the first project under the initiative requiring a novel application of material sciences and advanced sensors.”

Funded proposals will be eligible to receive up to $100,000 and must be completed within nine months.

Successful SMEs will be eligible to apply for a maximum of $750,000 funding to support further research and concept maturation within 24 months.