Australia plans to invest up to A$1.3 billion ($934 million) to develop small unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) to improve maritime awareness.

“As detailed in the 2020 Defence Strategic Update, launched by the Prime Minister and I in July, Australia is at the centre of a dynamic strategic environment,” says defence minister Linda Reynolds.

 “Now, more than ever, defence requires an agile acquisition strategy to take advantage of state-of-the-art technology.”

The focus of the initiative will be the acquisition of small UAVs weighing between 25-300kg (55-660lb) for use aboard Royal Australian Navy vessels.

“This acquisition heralds a new intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting capability for defence to ensure Australia keeps pace in this rapidly developing technology domain,” says Reynolds.

In addition, Canberra sees the investment as a way to support Australian industrial capability in the sector.

“Developing sovereign industrial capability through projects like this is critical to enhancing Australia’s industrial base and maritime security,” says Reynolds.