The Australian Department of Defence has for the first time acknowledged a link between its JP129 tactical unmanned air vehicle (TUAV)requirement and its semi-classified tri-service electronic warfare (EW)programme "Project Bunyip".

A newly released JP129 briefing paper confirms that a Bunyip project definition study is under way and will be completed by next June.

The paper, released as part of an Australian Army market survey to assess costs of a TUAV purchase, identifies an airborne EW capability as a fourth order priority for JP129, "in accordance with [Project Bunyip] objectives". It describes passive EWas a likely JP129 future need, but states that "the ability of current UAV systems to support EW missions is not clear".

Bunyip includes exploration of stand-off jamming, and the paper says "active EW missions are of interest". The paper also requests data from industry on payloads. Project Bunyip received initial funding approval in May, with the initial focus on replacing the army's existing land-based EW systems.

The JP129 paper, released to industry last month, says three TUAV acquisition options are being explored. Option one is for three systems - of four air vehicles each - optimised for surveillance, reconnaissance and target acquisition. Option two is for four systems, three for land force use and one for operation from warships, although maritime launch requirements are undefined. Option three is for a "high/low" architecture of three land systems and one medium altitude endurance system of four air vehicles.

Industry views are also sought on the feasibility of a private finance-based TUAV acquisition, including comment on whether other markets "for TUAV services exists outside the Australian Defence Force".

Source: Flight International