Demonstration flights have prompted the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to allocate funds for full evaluation trials of the locally built Seabird Seeker SB7L purpose-built surveillance aircraft (Flight International, 21-27 April, 1993) as part of the ADF's review of battlefield mobility and surveillance capabilities.

ADF Director General Force Development (Land) Brig Peter Dunn attended the informal trials in October 1995 with 51 Sqn Far North Queensland Regiment on Cape York Peninsular. Seabird now expects to contest the recently announced ADF joint project JP129 (airborne surveillance in support of ground forces), with deliveries scheduled from 2000.

Seabird is evaluating sensor packages, including the Australian Defence Science Technology Organisation's (DSTO) Electronically Stabilised Compact Infra-red Imager (ESCII) which it is due to test shortly. Unmanned-air-vehicle suppliers, notably Canadair, Israel Aircraft Industries and Kentron of South Africa are also expected to enter the contest.

Source: Flight International