Australia's Department of Defence has contracted BAE Systems to perform a new capability and technology demonstrator programme into unmanned surveillance technologies, with the work to build on recent flight trials conducted for the nation's air force.
BAE earlier this year deployed a production-standard Herti air vehicle to the Woomera test range in South Australia to support a Royal Australian Air Force investigation into the use of UAVs to acquire and disseminate intelligence information.
© BAE Systems
The RAAF has already used BAE's Herti air vehicle to explore unmanned technologies
The new contract will have several key focus points, says Brad Yelland, BAE Systems Australia's general manager for aerospace and autonomous systems. These include increased autonomy during target detection and recognition, on-board image processing to reduce bandwidth demands, and the use of simultaneous location and mapping techniques to reduce reliance on GPS guidance.
Work will conclude with flight demonstrations using BAE's Kingfisher 2 UAV, with Yelland saying these will use "real-world targets" and "scenarios that are realistic and representative of the operational environments in which the Australian Defence Force is currently employed".
Meanwhile, BAE's first production example of the Herti is in Australia awaiting first flight, with the air vehicle to test a new multifunction sensor turret. Its Mantis tactical UAV concept demonstrator has also been at Woomera since the first quarter of this year being prepared for its debut sortie, although the company says it is "not pinned to a contractual date" to conduct this.
The UK's Taranis unmanned combat air vehicle demonstrator is also in final assembly at Warton, Lancashire, and recently achieved its power-on milestone. The design will enter ground test later this year, and fly for the first time during 2010.