BAE Systems Australia has used the Avalon air show to reveal plans to develop an Australian designed and manufactured armed VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) drone (pictured) as well as a new sovereign guided missile.
The company said today it had teamed with local industry to present Australia’s first domestically designed, manufactured and armed drone, the STRIX which is being developed by BAE Systems and Perth-based Innovaero.
The collaboration brings together BAE Systems’ global expertise in autonomous platforms and its vehicle management system (VMS) technology with Innovaero’s knowledge of aeronautical product design and manufacture in the Australian market, according to the company.
A hybrid, tandem wing, multi-domain and multi-role UAS capability, STRIX could be used for a variety of missions including air to ground strike against hostile targets and persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR). It could also act as a ‘loyal wingman’ for military helicopters.
Designed to carry up to a 160kg payload over 800km, STRIX will be capable of operating in high-risk environments. With a collapsed footprint of 2.6m x 4.5m, it could be easily transported in a standard shipping container.
Its VTOL capability means STRIX could be used without relying on an airfield. It could also be operated from a helicopter to expand the mission set and protect aircrew in high-threat environments.
At the same time BAE Systems revealed plans for a new sovereign munition concept – to be known as RAZER, positioning the company as a future supplier of low-cost precision guided munitions to Australian and potential export customers.
RAZER is a low cost air-launched precision guided munition that is designed to transform a 40-50kg standard non guided munition into a precision air launched weapon at low cost.
The RAZER system consists of a wing/body kit and tail unit equipped with a powered GPS/INS guidance control and navigation system, aimed at operations from Uncrewed Combat Air Vehicles (UCAV) and Rotary Wing aircraft.
The STRIX’s autonomous vehicle management system (VMS) is already is use in M113 armoured personnel carriers which have been converted for autonomous use by the Australian Army, and the Boeing MQ-28 Ghost Bat drone developed for the Royal Australian Air Force.
The company said STRIX will look to increase Australian sovereign capability by leveraging domestic expertise, such as Innovaero’s aircraft concept design and rapid prototyping. There will also be opportunities for wider Australian SMEs and academia to get involved in the development, delivery and flight test of the prototype.
BAE Systems Australia CEO Ben Hudson said: “STRIX leverages existing, proven technologies to provide an affordable and cost effective capability that is mission configurable and upgradable in response to emerging technologies or threats.
“STRIX could be ready for operational service as soon as 2026 and work is already underway on a STRIX prototype. We’re excited that this is the first UAS of its kind to be developed in Australia and look forward to working with partners across the country to deliver this capability to customers.”
Hudson said RAZER could meet urgent local and overseas demand for low cost sovereign munition solutions that could be deployed from the air.
The ability to deploy RAZER from an airborne platform and glide to target would dramatically increase the weapon’s range and provide significant stand-off range for the launch platform.
Currently, there is significant gap between inexpensive, short-range, land-based weapons of this calibre and the expensive, long-range, air-launched weapon systems.
“RAZER addresses a clear gap in the market for sovereign guided weapons. It will enable our Australian Defence Force ease of access to world-class munitions right here in Australia,” Hudson said.
Picture: BAE Systems Australia/STRIX VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) Uncrewed Air System (UAS)