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Defence selects five maritime UAV contenders under SEA129 Ph.5

Insitu’s Scan Eagle is one of the five UAS systems selected by Defence under Project SEA129 Ph.5. Photo: Insitu

The Australian Department of Defence has selected five UAV manufacturers to progress to the next phase of the Royal Australian Navy’s Project SEA129.Ph.5.

The Acting Minister for Defence, Senator Marise Payne, announced 23 March that BAE Systems Australia, Insitu Pacific, Northrop Grumman Australia, Raytheon Australia, and Textron Systems Australia had been shortlisted for Block One of the project.

“This Program will acquire maritime unmanned intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting aircraft systems which will complement current sensors and systems on Navy’s ships, while boosting a ship’s area of surveillance,” Minister Payne said.

Block One of the program is the first phase of a 30-year continuous development program, with five-year rolling block upgrades, which will incorporate new technology upgrades.

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the project was delivering on the Morrison Government’s commitment to maximise Australia’s defence industry involvement in the acquisition, operation and sustainment of defence capability.

“By incorporating new technology through block upgrades every five years, the program supports the development of Australia’s Unmanned Aircraft System industry, and provides the Navy with a leading edge maritime surveillance capability,” Minister Price said.

“This process will allow Australian businesses to be directly involved in providing greater situational awareness for the Fleet, in particular the new Arafura-class Offshore Patrol Vessels, while strengthening long-term job growth and security.”

Future opportunities will be available in forthcoming Blocks of SEA129 Phase 5 from 2024.

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