Minister denies Australian industry lagging on drones


Assistant Minister for Defence Matt Thistlethwaite has rejected media criticism quoting military sources that defence urgently needs to add killer drones to its arsenal to give Australian forces a fighting chance on the modern battlefield.

Responding on radio Thistlethwaite said: “The Australian Defence Force is investing in new drone technology and I’ve seen that firsthand.

“The Ghost Bat program is a partnership between Boeing Australia and the Royal Australian Air Force.

“We’re manufacturing that capacity in Melbourne – it’s creating jobs for Australians and it has a fantastic export capacity.”

Thistlethwaite said Ghost Bat, which is supported by $58.6 million in grants under the Modern Manufacturing Initiative, had the capacity to carry artillery payloads.

“As well as that the government is investing in Ghost Shark (manufactured by Anduril), which is an underwater uncrewed vehicle capacity.

“As well as companies like SYPAC Systems, again based in Melbourne, that are supplying cardboard drones to the Ukrainian military as we speak.

“So, this drone capacity, in the Australian context, is being developed.”

Aundril is part of a $140 million programme to develop the autonomous Ghost Shark submarine, using the 2.8 tonne ‘Dive-LD’ as a test-bed vehicle.

Thistlethwaite rejected assertions urgenbt steps were needed to get combat drones into service.

“I’ve seen firsthand the technology that’s being developed by the Australian Defence Force in partnership with Australian industry…with an export potential.

“And I’ve got to say I’m pretty impressed with the technology that’s being developed here in Australia and the government’s comfortable with the investments that the Defence Force is making in what would be important technology into the future.”

Further reading:
More grants to Boeing for Ghost Bat jet manufacture
Browse @AuManufacturins’s coverage of Boeing Australia’s Ghost Bat here.
Anduril autonomous sub docks in Sydney

Picture: Matt Thistlethwaite

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