• Army soldiers from 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment (Queensland Mounted Infantry) with a Wasp AE small unmanned aircraft vehicle at Gallipoli Barracks, Brisbane during a demonstration conducted in October 2016. Credit: Defence
    Army soldiers from 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment (Queensland Mounted Infantry) with a Wasp AE small unmanned aircraft vehicle at Gallipoli Barracks, Brisbane during a demonstration conducted in October 2016. Credit: Defence
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Patrick Durrant | Sydney

The announcement last week that Army had selected the Aerovironment Wasp AE for its Small UAS (SUAS) requirement under Project Land 129 Phase 4 has propelled SME XTEK Limited into the major league of local defence contractors, with the Commonwealth’s $101 million investment by far the largest in the company’s 40 year history.

The contract will be signed in coming weeks with XTEK managing director Philippe Odouard confirming more details would be available at that time. He did however provide some clarity on the figures, and said the acquisition component of the investment had totalled $42 million. An additional $10 million had been spent during the last year on the first 14 systems used in trials; this also covered their maintenance, spare parts and tools.

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