The Australian Government has selected General Atomics Aeronautical Systems’ (GA‑ASI) MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) as the country’s first armed remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) for the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
Following government consideration, GA‑ASI’s medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) RPAS has been selected to meet the Project Air 7003 requirements.
Australian Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said that the MALE RPAS can be easily integrated within the ADF and is expected to be fully interoperable with its allies.
Pyne said: “These new aircraft will provide enhanced firepower and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) support to a range of missions.
“MALE, remotely piloted aircraft have a far greater range than smaller remotely piloted aircraft and can continuously observe an area of interest for much longer than manned reconnaissance aircraft.”
Built as part of the company’s Predator series of RPAS, the MQ-9 Reaper UAV will be deployed by the country to watch and protect the ADF and coalition land forces.
The autonomous aircraft will also provide reconnaissance support for search and rescue, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
Pyne added: “Remotely piloted aircraft allow military commanders to make more informed decisions faster whilst providing the option to conduct strike and reconnaissance operations without risking the safety of aircrew.
“The aircraft will be operated under the same laws of armed conflict, international human rights law, and rules of engagement as manned aircraft.”
Last February, GA‑ASI officially launched its Team Reaper Australia solution for the Project Air 7003 requirements.
Team Reaper Australia comprises Cobham, CAE, Raytheon, Flight Data Systems, TAE Aerospace, Quickstep, AirSpeed, Rockwell Collins Australia, Ultra, and SentientVision.