Aerospace and Aviation, Defence, Growing sovereign capability

Australian drones to take part in accelerator challenge to support ADF

Aerial drones developed by Australian companies will be showcased as part of an Australian Government initiative aimed at supporting innovation and delivering capabilities for the Australian Defence Force.

A total of 11 companies have signed contracts to provide a prototype of a drone, known as an uncrewed aerial system. The demonstration will be in April along with a production plan detailing how they would rapidly deliver their drones at scale for potential use by Defence and the Commonwealth.

Companies including AMSL Aero, Autonomous Technology, Bask Aerospace, Boresight, Crystalaid Manufacture, DefendTex Military Products, Edinburgh Drone Company, Geodrones Australia, Ichor Autonomy, SYPAQ Systems and V-TOL Aerospace have all signed on to develop a prototype UAS and production plan.

The contracts, worth $1,210,000 in total, are part of Defence’s Sovereign UAS Challenge, run by the Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator.

Small UASs are versatile and cost-effective platforms that provide near-real-time situational awareness at lower altitudes than larger surveillance alternatives, in an expendable and general‑purpose frame. Defence and other Commonwealth agencies use them for training, photography and survey tasks.

In May 2023, the deputy prime minister and minister for defence, Richard Marles, and the minister for defence industry, Pat Conroy, announced the establishment of the ASCA, delivering on the Government’s election commitment to drive innovation that creates new capability for the Australian Defence Force.

Conroy stated, “ASCA’s first Innovation Incubation Challenge will support some of our brightest minds in developing sovereign drone technology that can advance the future capabilities of the ADF.

“This initiative is another example of how the Albanese Government is getting on with the job of providing the ADF with state-of-the-art technology while supporting the local defence industry, including small and medium sized enterprises.

“Investments in developing small and smart uncrewed aerial systems will not only further a sovereign drone industry, creating highly skilled jobs, but ultimately will increase the operational effectiveness of our military.”

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