Australia sees need for new small UAV fleet

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Peter La Franchi / London

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© Elbit Systems

Australia is using Elbit’s Skylark

The Australian Department of Defence has forecast its combined services’ small unmanned air vehicle requirement at an expected fleet size of 88 systems worth about A$30.8 million ($24 million).

Although the Australian army and special forces have already introduced the Aerovironment Raven and Elbit Skylark systems, defence officials say this does not mean its future procurement will be an extension to the earlier deals, which were concluded to meet urgent operational requirements in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Each system is likely to comprise four air vehicles and ground control equipment, with the fleet expected to demonstrate an average air vehicle life of about four years. The requirement currently excludes a possible additional Royal Australian Navy requirement.

The primary acquisition mechanism will be the Joint Project 2097 “Project Redfin” special forces modernisation programme, which received government funding approvals last year.