Page 21 - Australian Defence Magazine - July 2018
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The Black Hornet is bedding down with Army.
Small but powerful for tactical applications.
number over the next 12 months or so. “We don’t want to just maintain the base- line of Shadow capability, we want to take advantage of the advances in technology, it’s
a growth area,” he said.
Pushing the boundaries
of the possible
Army has two further innovative strate- gies to both explore the realm of the pos- sible regarding UAS operations and to harness the creativity of the younger gen- erations of Australians.
The first is a $1 million Army Minor Project to acquire a large number of high- end Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) multi-rotor drones, which will be distrib- uted throughout the entire Regular Army, Army Reserve and Army Cadets. The DJI Systems Phantom 4 Pro has been selected, under what LTCOL Joyce describes as an informal modernisation initiative.
robotics, and we’re very excited about it.” The rapid increase of technology has driven an agile acquisition system for Army UAS’ and the Wasp replacement program, under Phase 4B of Land 129, is already un- derway and is currently in the post-Gate
Zero requirements definition stage.
“Wasp will roll out over the next three years, between 2018 and 2020 and we will aim to replace it after just seven years,” LT-
COL Joyce added.
Shadow 200
The largest UAS currently operated by Army is the Brigade-level Textron Systems RQ-7B Shadow 200 system, which under- went an upgrade a few years ago to increase its endurance from seven to nine hours. Initially acquired to provide a tactical over- watch capability for Australian and coali- tion troops in Afghanistan, LTCOL Joyce says that since the 100 km range system was
repatriated home, demand for its services is still increasing.
“It is a highly reliable, highly robust system that just keeps on going and it is a highly versatile tool for the Brigade com- mander,” he said. “Demand for Shadow has never been higher. It’s about Army getting used to these robotic systems and the more familiar our commanders become with the capabilities they offer and gain an apprecia- tion of what these systems can provide to them, they keep asking for more.”
Like Wasp a replacement project for Shad- ow is already underway under Project Land 129 Phase 3, which has an Initial Operational Capability date of 2023 and by which point it will have been in service for around 12 years.
LTCOL Joyce says there are currently around 15 potential candidates on the glob- al market to replace Shadow and further definition and refinement of requirements will narrow the field down to a smaller | July 2018 | 21
“We want to stay at the leading edge of technology and I think that’s evident in our investment in those small Black Hornet and Wasp systems.”

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